Friday, March 30, 2007


I don't know jack about salsa. It's one of the big gaps in my musical self-education; I think I've probably heard more polka songs than salsa songs. But that's about to change, in a big way. I just got a serious hookup today, courtesy of the PR firm that handles Emusica's reissues of the Fania Records catalog: a box containing 27 of said reissues, and three 2CD compilations by names even I recognize as huge in the genre. Here's what landed in my lap (almost literally) today:

Ray Barretto, Aqui Se Puede
Ray Barretto, Irresistible
Ray Barretto, Que Viva La Musica (2CD compilation)
Joe Battan, Riot
Justo Betancourt, Pa Bravo Yo
Willie Colón, El Malo
Willie Colón, Lo Mato
Willie Colón, The Player (2CD compilation)
Willie Colón & Ruben Blades, Siembra
Celia Cruz & Tito Puente, Homenaje A Beny Moré
Celia, Johnny, Justo & Papo, Recordando El Ayer
Fania All-Stars, Live At The Cheetah Vol. 1
Cheo Feliciano, Cheo
Cheo Feliciano, Estampas
Hector Lavoe, Comedia
La Lupe, Es La Reina
La Lupe, Reina De La Cancion Latina
Johnny Pacheco, Pacheco Y Su Charanga
Johnny Pacheco, El Maestro (2CD compilation)
Charlie Palmieri, El Gigante Del Teclado
Eddie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri/Cal Tjader, Bamboleate
Tito Puente & His Orchestra, Ce' Magnifique
Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz, Aguzate
Ismael Rivera, De Todas Maneras Rosas
Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, El Rey
Roberto Roena, Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound 6
Adalberto Santiago, Adalberto
Sonora Ponceña, Future

So far, all I've listened to is the Willie Colón disc (another copy of which arrived, all by itself, a few days ago), but it's pretty great. I remember being vaguely annoyed by salsa's piano sound some years ago, which led me to shrug off the genre. But now it doesn't bother me, for some reason. And the horns have a gleam that blows me away, no pun intended. So I'm actually really looking forward to checking all this stuff out, even if it takes me the rest of spring and summer. (And the Fania folks say they're going to keep sending more reissues, as they release them! It's a never-ending stream of salsa for me, it seems, at least for the near future.)


Currently playing: The Field, From Here We Go Sublime. A full-length album by a guy whose work I know from the Kompakt label's last two Total compilations. Kompakt is my current one-stop for techno - I like pretty much everything I've heard on the label over the past couple of years. The Total compilations are pretty much an annual event, and #s 6 and 7 have expanded from one disc each to two. As I said in the Voice awhile back, at its most aggressive it's music that makes you feel like you're in your own Michael Mann movie, driving a black Ferrari through rain-slick streets with another dude, both of you wearing sunglasses and not talking or smiling; and at its least aggressive, it's music to listen to while sitting in an all-white room as microscopic robots eat the dust off the furniture. It doesn't make me want to dance, but it makes me feel much cooler than I am, and that's really what I look for in electronic music - I want it to make me feel like an impeccably styled robot-man with liquid nitrogen in my veins. There are some surprisingly human moments in the Field's tracks - titles like "A Paw In My Face" and "The Little Heart Beats So Fast" imply happy interactions with other living creatures, and that's fine. And is it me, or is "Action," from Total 6, built around samples from the Four Tops' "(Reach Out) I'll Be There"? Still, there's enough ultra-smooth man-machine beauty that this might wind up being one of my favorite albums of the year.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Gran Poder
Southern Lord

Folks who find doom metal a little samey, maybe even hostile to innovation, will probably get a bitter laugh out of thse Spaniards' choice of band name. (Yes, unlike Japan's Corrupted, Orthodox come by their Spanish-language song and album titles honestly.) Southern Lord is offering their debut CD to American audiences, adding a cover of Venom's "Genocide" to the four tracks (three, really - one's a 90-second bit o' nothin') European fans, and the super-tuned-in, have already heard. This is a record that demands patience, or maybe just passivity, from the listener. Opening cut "Geryon's Throne" takes nearly 28 minutes to get where it's going, practically half the disc's running time. It's a rewarding journey, though, punctuated with plenty of slow-motion cymbal crashes and bass-amp feedback rumbles that accrue like lava flows, eventually forming into massive, towering riffs. There's a strong Melvins influence present, both in the vocals and the music. Whatever the drummer's name is (no band members are identified in the booklet), he does a good job of copying Dale Crover's powerful whomp. As is often the case with doom, much of the really interesting stuff's being played by the bassist. But the band gels quite well as a unit, creating an early-Sabbath mood that, even at its near-half-hour running time, never becomes merely static. Oh, and that Venom cover that's the secondary selling point for this edition of the CD? It's serviceable, demonstrating that these guys can play fast if they want to, as long as things stay primitive.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I spent almost all of yesterday and most of today in the kind of mood where "killing spree/suicide-by-cop" was starting to look like a really good way to spend my Wednesday. Then I read this, and now my co-workers' lives are no longer in danger. Thank you, Leonard Pierce. (I especially liked it because I am a diabetic, and if I ate or drank most of the things he describes I would almost certainly be dead by sunset.)

Monday, March 26, 2007


Adrian Begrand, a writer I wish I'd thought to invite to contribute to Marooned, has written a superb Popmatters column on Manowar. He's done a terrific job of articulating all their flaws and strengths, which is a much more difficult task than it might initially seem. Manowar are Manowar that it's actually really hard to write about them, because you get overwhelmed by the absurdity and your critical faculties (along with the rest of your brain) begin to shut down. You begin to doubt your own sanity, especially when you start to like what they're doing. So kudos to Adrian for managing to get all the way through their new, ultra-overblown multi-disc DVD (I couldn't manage it myself) and explain it all for, and on behalf of, the rest of us. Hail to you, Begrand! (His blog's decent, too.)

Friday, March 23, 2007


Here are some questions a friend of mine typed up today. Please answer in comments so I know whether anybody is even reading all this crap. Thanks in advance for your forbearance.

1) What song or album did you have to listen to multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another song within a song
4) Favorite Stax/Volt song
5) Your favorite music video
6) Nas or Jay-Z?
7) Song or album that, despite being from a genre you don't typically follow, led you to appreciate that genre's possibilities
8) Favorite Rolling Stones song
9) The Clash or the Ramones?
10) What song can make a shitty day seem less shitty?
11) Conversely, what song can make you wish you were deaf, at least temporarily, whenever it comes on the radio/TV/grocery store PA?
12) Favorite James Brown song
13) Beck or Bjork?
14) What is the most inventive usage of a sample you've ever heard?
15) Robert Christgau once wrote that "All good rock and roll risks fascism simply by generating mass energy, and much of it flirts with sexism simply by exploring the music's traditional subject matter. Sometimes the risks are worth it, sometimes they aren't." What are your favorite examples of the former and the latter?
16) Favorite Miles Davis song
17) Favorite song about comic book characters
18) Betty Davis or Millie Jackson?
19) Your favorite, or most despised, lyrical cliché
20) Guns 'n' Roses' 'Appetite for Destruction' -- yes or no?
21) Favorite Wu-Tang verse
22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
23) Your favorite rock song to not use guitar (or favorite jazz song to not use piano, or favorite rap song to not use samples/scratching)
24) MF DOOM or Madlib?
25) Your favorite live album
26) What alternate take/demo version/remix do you like more than the original version?
27) Favorite song on which Duane Allman plays guitar
28) Portishead or Massive Attack?
29) Your favorite Captain Beefheart song title
30) As a music fan, what do you want from a music critic, or from music criticism? And where do you see music criticism in general headed?


I was gonna post some frankly mean-spirited shit about Ivy Queen, who has been freaking me out more than a little bit lately. Every time her videos come on mun2, I laugh out loud, even as I die inside slightly, because...well, she dresses super-provocatively and writhes around, but she's just, to be blunt, not a very attractive woman. She looks like she's wearing a horse's skull as a mask and her nails are long enough she could use them to punch cans open. But you know what? After reading this post about her fucked-up life and the lyrical themes of her songs, fuck it. I got nothin' more to say. Respect, Ivy Queen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Back in 2003, I gave Metallica a pretty thorough kicking over St. Anger. I never listened to the record again after that awful experience in the publicist’s office, sitting there with my ass falling asleep while the record clattered and roared out of the speakers for 75 straight minutes. I meant to pick up the retail version, which came with a DVD of the band (including then-brand-new bassist Rob Trujillo) playing the songs live in a garage or something, but never did, and it wasn’t like the label was gonna send me a copy for free after what I wrote. So I just went on with my life. But almost four years have passed, and Metallica are recording another “return to form” album, this time with Rick Rubin in the booth. So I figured it was time to take another gander at the last disc. Thank you, Rapidshare…

Except, the thing is, the album’s just as bad as I remember. In fact, it’s even harder to listen to at 128kbps; the cymbals, which were already hissy and fucked-sounding, are almost completely dissolved into a staticky wash. The various segments of the songs, which never fit together organically the way tracks on …And Justice For All seemed to shift gears as necessary (instead, they felt stapled together, almost clacking into place), seem a little less haphazard and clunky, at least as far as the editing is concerned, but they still don’t have anything to do with each other. There’s no rhyme or reason to the songs’ structures; verses and choruses don’t belong together, seeming to come from entirely different writers and writing processes. Now, in recent weeks the bar for badness has been set pretty high (or low, depending how you think about these things) by the Stooges’ horrific “comeback” album, but believe me, St. Anger is every bit the embarrassing, pitiable musical miscarriage it was upon its initial release. (All of which, ironically—or maybe pathetically—only serves to make me hope even harder that the new album will be good.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Hydra Head
Justin Broadrick was a founding member of Napalm Death, but it wasn't until Godflesh that his real vision emerged - mechanistic rhythms (which gradually became more and more groovelike until eventually he hired human drummers), grinding guitars and anguished vocals combined Killing Joke, Swans and Throbbing Gristle into something entirely new and occasionally psychedelic, most notably on Selfless and its companion EP Merciless.
Jesu, Broadrick's post-Godflesh project, maintains the dominant paradigm of his earlier work - big guitars, thumping rhythm (sometimes live, sometimes programmed), aching slowness. But the vocals are cleaner, with less electronic filtering/damage and less metallic riffs (owing more to Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine). Conqueror, their second album and fourth major release overall, is almost lush at times, especially on "Weightless & Horizontal" and "Medicine." He's still the guy walking around with a rain cloud permanently over his head, of course, but a lot of the lyrics here are about love and/or human interaction of a non-spiteful sort.
Ultimately, though, Conqueror is best understood as a series of riffs that you should let wash over your brain without spending too much time deciphering what Broadrick is on about. The guitars (and to a lesser degree the drums and synth drones) are the point of his music, as they always have been. Just lie back and let that oscillating wasp hum at the beginning of "Brighteyes" almost drive you crazy, before the huge riff comes crashing in like a bulldozer falling through your skylight.

Monday, March 19, 2007


The other night, I went to see “post-metal” or “shoegaze metal” acts Isis (or ISIS, as iTunes prefers) and Jesu at Irving Plaza. I was bored to tears, and called it a night pretty early. I’ve been pretty disappointed with everything I’ve heard from Isis/ISIS since Oceanic and its attendant 2CD set of remixes (which is my pick from their catalog), but way back when I liked them a whole lot. I saw them live at Brownie’s in 2000, opening for Botch, and their set included what I remember now as a 10-minute theremin/didgeridoo duet, though it was probably 1/4 that long, if that. They were something totally unique and cool at that point. Now, of course, the very existence of the term “NeurIsis” as a subgenre descriptor (slow ’n’ low, no solos to speak of, enigmatic cover art) tells you how thoroughly their early innovations have been absorbed into the 21st Century metal mainstream. Jesu are Godflesh/God/Techno Animal/Ice/Final/Sidewinder guitarist/vocalist Justin Broadrick’s new thing, which marries his drum machine thud (except these days there’s a real live human slammin’ the skins) and mechanistical guitarrorism to My Bloody Valentine-esque clouds of beautiful noise. I don’t much like the results, though I will give the guy credit for really knowing how to sculpt sound—I had my earplugs in and it was dull dull dull, but when I pulled ’em out, the music came to life like one of those time-lapse sequences of a huge, bright flower blooming in like two seconds.

Anyway, I’d budgeted for a T-shirt, but before the show, I wandered into the Virgin Megastore where there was a pretty good sale in progress. Lots of CDs for $10, and some for less. It was the even cheaper ones that I gravitated to—I bought three Accept albums—Restless And Wild, Balls To The Wall, and Metal Heart—for $8 each.

I liked Accept a lot in Junior High. One of the first metal concerts I ever attended was Dio at Madison Square Garden in, I think, 1986. I was 13, and went with a friend whose dad drove us into the city, where we met up with my dad, who had bought the tickets and who would actually be accompanying us to the show. My friend wanted to see Dio; I couldn’t give a shit about him, really. I thought the Holy Diver album cover was cool, but hadn’t really bothered to investigate the music. I wanted to see Accept, who were opening up.

I discovered them pretty much by accident; my uncle, Bruce Malamut, a freelance rock critic for Rolling Stone and other mags starting in the late ’60s, gave me a pile of promo metal vinyl for Christmas one year. I don’t remember most of the records; they were proto-hair outfits for the most part, I think, plus a copy of the Deep Purple compilation When We Rock, We Rock And When We Roll, We Roll which some people have taken luxurious dumps on for making no differentiation between their early and later material (OMG, “Smoke On The Water” on the same compilation as “Woman From Tokyo” and “Kentucky Woman”!!!) but that’s exactly what makes it the perfect introductory toe-dip for an impressionable 12- or 13-year-old who just wants to hear loud guitarrrz.

Anyway, the only other record in the whole pile that I liked was a six-song live-in-Japan EP by Accept, called Kaizoku-Ban. It featured four songs from Metal Heart (the title track, “Screaming For A Love-Bite,” “Up To The Limit” and “Living For Tonite”) and two from Balls To The Wall (“Head Over Heels” and “Love Child”). I didn’t know that, of course, because I’d never heard the band before. I was immediately impressed, though. They sounded pretty much exactly like I thought a metal band should—big-ass guitars riffing with fist-pumping precision, thunderous drums, and no keyboards. Oh, and I thought the interpolation of Beethoven in the middle of the song “Metal Heart” was really fucking cool. But what really sold me on Accept was Udo Dirkschneider, the vocalist, who looked like Klaus Kinski as a portly, pissed-off dwarf in head-to-toe camouflage (T-shirt and fatigue pants) but had a voice that sounded like, with sufficient amplification, it could shatter bricks.

Of course, I wound up taping a friend’s vinyl copy of Metal Heart soon enough, and bought their next studio album, Russian Roulette, on cassette. Udo left the band after that one, and I moved on to Metallica, Slayer et al. (RR was the first record I ever bought that had a “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” stamp on it, by the way, and I swear I never heard anything dirty.)

Accept were, let’s face it, confusing sometimes. Their first three albums didn’t really suggest much in the way of psychosexual weirdness—the covers to the debut and Breaker looked not dissimilar to contemporaneous Scorpions releases (even if they never delivered anything half as sick as the Scorps’ infamous Virgin Killer sleeve). But starting with 1983’s Restless & Wild, unsettling undercurrents began to swirl. The title of this post is a lyric from “Fast As A Shark,” which is a fucking awesome song that basically laid the groundwork for thrash (or, anyway, was thrash where no one would have thought to look for it, assuming these guys were just a Judas Priest ripoff act). And on Balls To The Wall, they went all-out. See, the lyrics were all written by “Deaffy,” who turned out to be their (female) manager under a pseudonym. So a lot of their sex songs (and there were a bunch) seemed possibly written from the point of view of the penetrated, rather than the penetrator as was, and is, usual in metal. For example, “Head Over Heels” and “Turn Me On” are both about sex, but they’re gender-neutral, a tactic usually employed by gay singers who didn’t want to admit as much—Melissa Etheridge and the Pet Shop Boys (before Neil Tennant came out) both employed this tactic in the past. And when combined with the freakish, Helmut Newton-esque cover photo of Balls To The Wall, it was all a little much for young metal boys, who tend to be a roiling mass of sexual urges. (Me, I didn’t get any of this until much later—I just thought it was cool to hear someone screech the word “balls” in a song. I was fairly Beavis-esque at that point.)

Anyway, this post has already gone on way too long. Short version: Accept = awesome. These three albums still hold up, and should be in your collection just like they are in mine.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Ornette Coleman turned 77 on March 9.

Ornette Coleman's Lifetime Achievement Grammy Acceptance Speech

It is really very, very real to be here tonight, in relationship to life and death and I’m sure they both love each other.

I really don’t have any present thoughts about why I’m standing here other than trying to figure out something to say that could be useful to someone that believes.

One of the things I am experiencing is very important and that is: You don’t have to die to kill and you don’t have to kill to die. And above all, nothing exists that is not in the form of life because life is eternal with or without people so we are grateful for life to be here at this very moment.

For myself, I’d rather be human than to be dead. And I would also die to be human. So you can’t die, you can’t die to be neither one, regardless of what you say or think so that’s why I believe that music itself is eternal in relationship to sound, meaning, intelligence…all the things that have to have something to do with being alive because you were born and because someone else made it possible for you to be here, which we call our parents, etc., etc.

For me, the most eternal thing is that I would like to live until I learn what it is and what it isn’t…that is, how do we kill death since it kills everything?

And it’s hard to realize that being in the human form is not as easy as wondering what is going to happen to you even if you do know what it is and it doesn’t depend on if you know what is going to happen to you.

No one can know anything that life creates since no one is life itself. And it’s obvious, at least I believe, it’s obvious the one reason why we as human beings get there and do things that seem to be valuable to us in relationship to intelligence… uh, what is it called…creativity and love and all the things that have to do with waking up every morning believing it’s going to be a better day today or tomorrow and yet at the same time death, life, sadness, anger, fear, all of those things are present at the same time as we are living and breathing.

It is really, really eternal, this that we are constantly being created as human beings to know that exists and it’s really, really unbelievable to know that nothing that’s alive can die unless it’s been killed. So what we should try to realize is to remove that part of what it is so that whatever we are, life is all there is and I thank you very much.

My own thoughts:

An interview with Ornette Coleman is the greatest test your average portable tape recorder (not to mention the cassette in it) will ever undergo, because you, the journalist, will spend hours running the tape back saying, "Did he just say what now?" and double-and triple-checking your transcriptions, and once you're done with all that, the real ordeal begins, which is attempting to yank a concise quote out of a five- or ten-minute answer. Plus, of course, re-reading what he said over and over again and only finally understanding it on every level on which he meant it (and probably a few unconscious resonances that just slipped in there unbidden) after the seventh or eighth time through. I am decidedly not one of those people who believes black musicians are innately in touch with some kind of great spirit of universal love and music-making or whatever, but talking to Ornette Coleman made me question my skepticism. I can't imagine how musicians can even steel themselves internally to get up and play with the guy. As open and generous as he is, it still must be terrifying to take that challenge as a player.

Monday, March 12, 2007


The Fountain: Music From The Motion Picture
Clint Mansell's music frequently emphasizes repetition, making him an excellent sonic partner for director Darren Aronofsky, whose movies utilize looping structures and repetitive sequences to emotionally devastating effect. On this disc, Mansell's use of British indie-art band Mogwai alongside classical hipsters the Kronos Quartet allows him to be simultaneously ominous and romantic. None of the pieces seem cued to cinematic action; none fail without visuals. The tracks blend into each other, giving the CD a symphonic grandeur. The eight-minutes-plus "Death Is The Road To Awe" is the highlight, bringing the quartet, the band, and a choir to a roaring crescendo reminiscent of Spiritualized at its best. Following this overwhelming emotional and sonic achievement, the solo piano piece "Together We Will Live Forever" permits all that has come before to drift slowly away, like the steadily weakening shockwaves from an underwater explosion.

A Whole New Thing
Dance To The Music
There's A Riot Goin' On
Small Talk

Comprehensive reissues of the Sly Stone catalog were long overdue. The domestic CD version of There's A Riot Goin' On, in particular, sucked. And while the two-CD Essential Sly & The Family Stone covers the major bases, even his anthems ("Everyday People," "Family Affair," "I Want To Take You Higher") benefit from the context the original albums provide.
Stone's music developed quite noticeably over the course of the first four albums. A Whole New Thing wasn't, really; Stone was combining funky soul with a tinge of melodic San Francisco psychedelia (and throughout his career, hippie-ism damaged his art worse than any drug), but it's a collection of songs rather than an album. "Let Me Hear It From You," the highlight, is a straight Stax-style ballad. Life, an experimental and relatively commercially unsuccessful album, finds Stone playing with a bunch of sounds others would be exploring a few years later—"Into My Own Thing," to name just one, sounds like the first Funkadelic album, only three years earlier. Dance To The Music and Stand!, the group's second and fourth records, find their style blossoming into its mature, hitmaking form. Most of the band's best-known songs are on these two discs, and the remastering Legacy's done makes them leap from the speakers. Then comes Riot, a murky, depressed repudiation of the previous four discs. Overrated for its darkness, it's powerful, but solipsistic to a fault. The follow-up, Fresh, is more exciting, combining the raw soul of the earlier discs with a crisp, new funk sound suited to the plastic gloss of the early '70s. After Fresh, though, it was mostly all over. Small Talk has a few decent songs, but it's a decidedly minor album, and about Stone's farewell disc, the now-ironically titled (and not part of this set) Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back, the less said the better. Also missing from this slate of reissues: a remastered Greatest Hits, which since it contains three of the band's greatest non-album singles ("Hot Fun In The Summertime," "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)" and "Everybody Is A Star") is essential.

Friday, March 09, 2007


from Amoeba (Listenable)
It's like France came together as a nation and decided to once and for all salvage their rock rep. Between the avant-garde black metallers (Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Antaeus), the prog freaks (Fairyland), and the new post-Meshuggah art-thrashers (Gojira), France is kicking out a disturbing amount of high-quality jams. [Read the rest here.]

With Midnight, Schnauzer, and Xrin Arms. Sunday, March 11, at the Grog Shop.
Some bands are best experienced live; others are best experienced on record. The ideal Anal Cunt experience is standing in a record store with a friend, flipping through the band's CDs and laughing out loud at the track titles. That's because hearing the music that corresponds to such songs as "Ha Ha, Your Wife Left You," "I Like Drugs and Child Abuse," "I Ate Your Horse," "I Got an Office Job for the Sole Purpose of Sexually Harassing Women," and the probably inevitable "Being Ignorant Is Awesome" is one of life's more disappointing experiences. [Read the rest here.]

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Cool records I have gotten in the mail in recent days:

Sly and Robbie, Strictly Drum and Bass: The Roots of Sly and Robbie (Trojan): a compilation of early recordings featuring these two titans in the back. Mostly stuff I don't already have, and my iPod has an assload of old school reggae in't. So very cool.

G.B.H, Race Against Time - The Complete Clay Recordings (Sanctuary): a 3CD box containing City Baby Attacked By Rats, City Baby's Revenge, various singles and EPs, and the contemporaneous live album No Survivors. I saw these guys open for the Ramones in 1989 or so and was totally unimpressed, but these albums kinda smoke. Surprised how much the vocalist sounds like Cronos from Venom; also surprised how much better these records sound than Venom's stuff from the same time period (1981-84). I thought punk was supposed to be the low-budget stuff, and metal the glossy arena-ready stuff. These guys could have taken it over the top given the right marketing.

Cruachan, The Morrigan's Call (Candlelight): fourth CD by a band mixing Irish folk with thrash metal. I might like this even more than Korpiklaani (a band who mix Finnish folk with thrash metal), and that's saying something.

Other things that have shown up recently: the new Fall album; the debut CD by Mark E. Smith's new side project, Von Südenfend; the solo debut by Reyli, former vocalist of Mexican alt-rock band Elefante; and Monarch!'s Dead Men Tell No Tales (Crucial Blast).

Monarch! (punctuation in original) are a French doom band reminiscent of Khanate and Corrupted who tend toward the epic—their debut 2CD set had three songs on it, and they followed that by glomming a full hour of a split CD (the band they shared it with, Eluvium, was forced to pack four songs into six minutes, which I gather was okay with them). This set compiles two vinyl-only releases, Speak Of The Sea and Die Tonight, and reportedly represents the band's farewell. I hope not. Their mastery of the underwater monster chord, not to mention vocalist Emilie's way of sounding like she's being skinned alive starting at the ankles, is a compelling thing indeed, and doom could use their goofy sense of humor (their symbol is a cartoon heart with two cute li'l upside-down crosses flanking it).

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


One of these men is dead; the others are just zombies

The Weirdness
Every once in a while, mostly when David Bowie takes charge, Iggy Pop’s willing to work hard and even stretch himself artistically, whether in the direction of electronic weirdness (The Idiot) or brazen but still brainy pop (Blah-Blah-Blah). The rest of the time, he coasts on name value, content with the most generic three-chord rock as a backdrop. And that’s what he’s doing on The Weirdness, only he’s dragged the Asheton brothers down with him. This album sounds nothing like earlier Stooges efforts, despite the presence of 75 percent of the Funhouse lineup (bassist Dave Alexander died in 1975). It’s one more tossed-off Iggy solo outing, sonically somewhere between Instinct and Beat ’Em Up, with dumb—and probably not dumb-on-purpose—lyrics about women, cars, sex and money (“She Took My Money,” “Greedy Awful People”). Steve Albini was a poor choice of engineer; his trademarked thundering drums worked great for High On Fire, but Scott Asheton’s minimalist thwack gets its power from its crispness. His guitarist brother Ron syncs up well with bassist Mike Watt, but the riffs they’re playing are generic punkarama, using speed to disguise a lack of real ideas. Even the frontman, clearly the one in charge here, seems to have lost it. Iggy’s leonine yawp has grown fragile; he misses more notes than he hits, and the vocals all sound first-take, and not in a good way. Nobody really expects much from an Iggy Pop solo disc. His laziness and inconsistency are givens, at least in the studio (live, he’s still rock’s own Tasmanian devil, all whirling limbs and veins nearly bursting through his skin). But the Stooges (like the New York Dolls, who coughed up a similar and equally lame “comeback” last year) had a solid two-album legacy, and this album sullies that. It’s a shame.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Friday morning 10:

T.Rex, "Born To Boogie"
Booker T. & the MGs, "Time Is Tight"
Los Tigres del Norte, "El Hijo de Tijuana"
Albert Ayler, "Witches & Devils"
James Brown, "Turn On The Heat And Build Some Fire"
Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Tuesday's Gone"
The Cramps, "The Natives Are Restless"
Xasthur, "Prison Of Mirrors"
Deathspell Omega, "Kénôse I"
DJ Krush, "Outro"

Thursday, March 01, 2007


From the press release accompanying the new Low CD, Drums And Guns:

One imagines a world seen through night goggles; abandonment at the ravaged frontiers of a puppet state; the brainwashed hysteria of teenage guerrillas planting IEDs.

Perhaps one does. Or perhaps, instead, one imagines $4 from the used CD store.

(I had to sit through a set by Low when I saw Radiohead in 2003, and they were the single dullest fucking thing I've ever paid to experience.)


The Viking metal of Amon Amarth

American metal has lost its heart. Turn on Headbangers Ball and half the videos are from floppy-haired post-hardcore bands screaming about girls who done them wrong. Then there are the death-metalers, faces hidden behind pinwheeling hair, urping about Satan and serial murder between attacks of whammy-bar masturbation. Perhaps worst of all, there’s Jack Black and Tenacious D lampooning the very heroic tradition they claim to love. Where are our epic poets? Who (okay, besides Manowar) is keeping the tradition of warrior metal alive? [Read the rest here.]