Saturday, March 29, 2008


Bands should sequence their album titles alphabetically; that is, the second album should come later in the alphabet than the first, and the third album (if there is one) should follow the second. Example: Audioslave.

2002: Audioslave.
2005: Out Of Exile.
2006: Revelations.

See how nice and neat? If they all did this, every band's discography would pop up chronologically in my iPod. Sadly, far too many bands fail to take computers' filing systems into account when naming their albums. What's wrong with them?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


In this week's New Yorker, while discussing Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (which I have not heard), Sasha Frere-Jones, whose work is highly regarded in some quarters, writes the following sentence with what I will go ahead and assume is a straight face:

"Like 'Voodoo' - and like Miles Davis's 'On The Corner,' as several critics have noted - 'New Amerykah' is a relatively short record that feels infinitely relaxed, and favors sound and mood over choruses and verses." [Emphases mine.]

Last time I checked (which was this morning, as I listened to my iPod on the train into NYC), On The Corner had a running time of 54:46 - "relatively short" compared to Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2, or Agharta, but not to, say, Rocket To Russia. And certainly not short given the storage capacity of a single vinyl disc - its original format. So let's call that use of "relatively" questionable at best.

The part where SF-J really loses me, though, is his next adverb-adjective combo. Many, many words have been expended describing and analyzing On The Corner. I've written a few myself, here and there. But "infinitely relaxed" is a description I gotta say pretty much anyone with functioning ears can agree does not apply. (The weaselly deployment of "several [unnamed, mind] critics have noted" seems like rockcrit kin to the political campaign tactic of appending "some say" to a hallucinatory critique of one's opponent. If there are really multiple sentient humans who find On The Corner relaxing, I'd like to gather them all in a room sometime - preferably one with an MRI machine.) But hey, when you're making New Yorker money and gadding about the city hosting events and what-all, I guess it's easy to stay relaxed, even with Miles et al. jabbering and squealing in your ear.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Marooned contributor Anthony Miccio (he wrote about Dio) speaks the truth in an Idolator post about dead pop/rock "genres":

There are so many bands trying to write "Dreams," but no one is bothering to write "Panama." This is why I sometimes think Kurt Cobain was the worst thing to happen to rock, as his PC "hey, check out the Vaselines" attitude came and went, leaving hard rockers only with the wisdom that there's no need to sound like you're having any fun at all.

I have this thought just about every goddamn day, especially when I turn on VH1 (I don't even bother with MTV anymore, really) and see a goddamn Daughtry or Nickelback or OneRepublic video. Wake up and rock, you mopey-ass motherfuckers!


The new Cryptopsy album is called The Unspoken King. I am listening to it right now, and it is making me cry a little.

That is all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


One of my favorite new death metal bands, Brain Drill, has self-destructed for about the stupidest possible reason.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Cuban American rapper Pitbull made his first appearance on the celebrity-news website recently. And it was for the worst possible reason: He was hit in the head with a bottle while performing at a San Antonio club. He left the stage almost immediately, but returned with a blood-soaked towel held to his noggin, challenging his assailant to come up for round two. When nobody materialized, Pitbull did one more song and left to get his head stapled together.

"I guess somebody had a little too much to drink, slung a bottle onstage, and it happened to hit me in the head," recalls the genial rapper. "It was mostly women [at the show], so I think it was somebody's boyfriend just acting out. It's always gonna happen when you got a lot of people drinking. There's always one dummy."

That incident now seems like it might just be the beginning of a turbulent period in Pitbull's career. He is currently out on the road with fellow hip-hopper Baby Bash, supporting last year's The Boatlift. But he's not getting any help from his label — for the simple reason that he doesn't really have much of one anymore. TVT Records — former home to Pitbull, the Ying Yang Twins, and Lil Jon, among others — fired nearly its entire staff a month ago and has now filed for bankruptcy. [Read the rest here.]


With Every Time I Die [pictured], From First to Last, the Bled, August Burns Red, and the Human Abstract.
Tuesday, March 18, at House of Blues.
The Take Action Tour features a weird blend of loud mall-punk and grassroots charity. The bands on this year's bill range from the tattooed and metallic (Every Time I Die) to the recently major-label-signed and suddenly much-less-artsy-than-on-their-two-indie-albums (From First to Last). Also on tap are post-hardcore band the Bled, Christian metalcore kids August Burns Red (which part of the Bible does that unwieldy phrase come from?), and prog-metalcore band the Human Abstract. So, Warped Junior, right? Except the Warped Tour doesn't award grants to under-25s across the country engaged in projects like setting up free health clinics for poor folks in East Harlem. Nine kids were each given $500 to help launch their good deeds. So get down in the pit with your buddies, and rock out — and maybe between stage dives, you can think about the positive social changes you're supporting. Righteous.


Got a single-disc Burzum best-of in today's mail, from Candlelight Records. It's called Anthology. Booooo-ring!

(Track listing, for those interested: "Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown," "Stemmen fra Taarmet," "Lost Wisdom," "Svart Troner," "Det Som en Gang Var," "Jesus Tod," "Gebrechichkeit," "Balferd Baldrs," and a Quicktime video for "Dunkelheit")

Here are some alternate titles, just off the top of my head:

Best O' Burzum
Now That's What I Call Burzum
Bad Music For Bad People
The Young Person's Guide To Burzum
Does Not Include That Song From
Am I Black Enough For You?
Burzum Sings For Only The Lonely
I Killed Euronymous With My Big Fucking Dick
Fear Of A Black Planet
Mama Tried


...Into The Exam Room
Kyuss, for all their greasy, sand-in-the-gears riffage, were one of the smartest bands in rock history - if the projects their various ex-members have initiated ex post facto are any indication. Former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork's deceptively simple albums under his own name, as well as the new wave-tinged Brant Bjork & The Operators, are brilliantly confident. And pretty much everybody on Earth worships Josh Homme and Queens Of The Stone Age, right? Well, vocalist John Garcia's Hermano have been doing very solid work to less acclaim than they deserve. ...Into The Exam Room, their third disc, has plenty of thick, bluesy grooves and coruscating noise guitar, but it also features funny little taped bits (children laughing, a guy shouting "You've got it in neutral!") and curlicue melodies. If you're not at all interested in stoner bands who just want to crush you under their mud-encrusted wheels, Hermano will please you.

Everywhere At Once
Lyrics Born, like most non-hyphy rappers from the Bay Area, is almost too smart for his own good. Subsequently, he fits in well at Anti-, a label dealing equally in bands with hipster (Neko Case, Xavier Rudd) and hippie (Billy Bragg, Antibalas) appeal. This is LB's first studio recording to feature his band instead of the usual samples and laptop programming. It's a fun album, full of off-kilter, electro-tinged grooves. Trouble is, backpacker/conscious/positive hip-hop is every bit as clichéd as the most unthinking gangsta rap. Most of the songs are about girls or how hard Lyrics Born has worked to get where he is - which beats talk of bubbling beakers, gunfire or diamonds, but gets just as tiresome over the long (18 tracks, including skits) haul.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Spirits In The Material World: A Reggae Tribute To The Police
Okay, sure; that album title tells the whole story, and it's either gonna send you running in the opposite direction, or you've already called up Amazon on your browser. And to be honest, the former choice seems like the wise one; if the ultra-cheesy keyboards on Ali Campbell's version of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" don't drive you away, then Joan Osborne's sleepy delivery on "Every Breath You Take" probably will. And lest ye think only the white performers are being singled out, Lee Perry's "Invisible Dub" of Horace Andy's "Invisible Sun" is no better. Here's the thing: the Police had a good idea, which was to incorporate reggae as one element of its sound, while keeping the whole thing stripped down and edgy. These over-arranged, cruise-ship grooves and hippie-singalong vocals just wind up turning what were once fairly propulsive post-punk pop songs into lowest-common-denominator cheese.

Promised Heights
Renegades Of Funk

These two discs compile pretty much the entire recorded output of an overlooked British Afro-funk outfit from the 1970s. With members hailing from Jamaica, Guyana and the island of St. Vincent, it won't surprise anyone to know that their music has a tropical lilt, with bongos and other percussion dancing delicately around the edges of the pulsing basslines, smooth horn solos and almost reggae-like lead vocals. The band also incorporated jazz and a little bit of rock into their funky sound, which made at least one of their songs - "Bra" - an immortal hit, sampled and cut up by one hip-hop DJ after another from the late '70s until today. What repeated listening to these compilations reveals, though, is that much like a bunch of second-tier '70s hard-rock bands, Cymande's collected works are of interest primarily to total diehards. They're enjoyable, but bands from War to Mandril (never mind titans like Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire) provide significantly more raw listener pleasure - not to mention surprises - per disc.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Harp will be joining No Depression on the slag-heap of history. Who will be next? Paste? Magnet? Why, soon there'll be no place at all to read self-impressed articles about boring music by and for overeducated upper-middle-class white people!

(Yes, yes, conflict of interest in that my day job publishes Relix, a semi-direct competitor with these mags. But even if I didn't work there, I wouldn't stay up nights weeping over the loss of these other titles, and wouldn't mind at all if 90 percent of the music they covered disappeared from the Earth forever.)


There's a dumb-ish review of Marooned in the Austin-American Statesman this weekend. For some reason, the writer seems way more wound up by what's not in the book, e.g. classic rock and big mainstream modern-day acts (guess he didn't see Nirvana's discography entry) than what is, and excessively concerned with behind-the-scenes stuff ("Why weren't writers I like included? I bet he couldn't pay them enough"). A friend informs me that the print version carries a disclaimer missing on the online version, that is, Mr. Salamon is a "former rock critic who has been a colleague or friend of many of the people mentioned in the review." Whatever; I'm mostly glad they spelled the photographer's name right.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


"Sure. Why not."

That's what I told myself about midway through Doomsday, after our hero(ine) and the survivors of her commando squad had escaped a post-apocalyptic Glasgow only to encounter dudes dressed in homemade armor, riding horses through the woods and menacing people with spears and bows and whatnot. And if you should find yourself in the theater as this thing unrolls, just repeat that like a mantra, every 15 minutes or so, and you'll find the movie stays on the right side of the "stupid"/"stoopid" line.

It's a dumb movie, make no mistake. It gathers up all the high points or at any rate the most memorable aspects of Escape From New York, the first two Resident Evil movies, 28 Weeks Later, and probably a bunch of other movies, too. But it's vigorous enough, gory enough (by more than half) and enthusiastic enough about its pilfering and collaging, that I was never bored. There were a few moments when I considered walking out, but I never quite tipped all the way over the edge. If you've got two hours to kill, you could do better with this than, say, No Country For Old Men.

I watched that arid marathon of crap the other night, and rarely have I more strongly regretted allowing myself to be swept along on the tide of critical opinion. It was ludicrous in its pseudo-profundity, at least a half hour too long, and offered not one good performance to focus on (okay, Woody Harrelson was tolerable). I like one or two Coen brothers movies, but I dislike many more (I consider the time I spent watching The Man Who Wasn't There, The Big Lebowski, The Ladykillers, The Hudsucker Proxy, and O Brother Where Art Thou? to have been time wasted). I think I'll be skipping There Will Be Blood until it shows up on cable; movies that get raves and awards have been striking me as pieces of crap more and more frequently in recent years. On the other hand, critically reviled hunks of genre sludge have been providing me pleasure and entertainment - and that's all I go to the movies for.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So...last night I watched a movie where an actor who's fairly well-regarded in some quarters played an implacable killing machine, whose ridiculous tonsorial choice should have made him stand out in the movie's rather prosaic locations like the proverbial sore thumb. Somehow, though, he was able to go about his mayhem (occasionally directed at his putative bosses) relatively undisturbed, except for the lone lawman who chases him with a feeling of depressive fatalism that only increases as the sheer magnitude of the guy's bad-assness begins to become clear, and weigh down on him.


"Dumb Smoke"
from Unhistories (Drag City)
The ultra-generic name masks Singer’s semi-supergroup status: among the featured players are members of Lichens, US Maple, Bird Show and Town And Country. But together, they form a unique animal that should be judged on its own merits. The multiple vocalists refuse (this being indie rock, let’s assume choice rather than inability) to sing in key or harmonize cleanly, and the guitars combine tautly plucked barbed-wire explosions of notes—think Andy Gill, D. Boon, maybe Pussy Galore-era Jon Spencer—with just-slightly-off, kinda melancholy-unto-detuned strumming. The bass is pleasingly loud in the mix, but not a constant presence. It would all be kinda reminiscent of the Minutemen attempting circa-1969 Grateful Dead (or simply of the Minutemen’s own “Take 5, D.”), if the drumming was a little more interesting. An ultimately opaque little nugget of music, “Dumb Smoke” says nothing more than “This moment is happening/There’s music playing right now.” So OK, then. [Click through to listen to the MP3 and read a short, barely-relevant interview with Singer's Ben Vida.]

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I'm working on a decent-sized Opeth story for the day job, so between bouts of interview transcription and multiple listens to Watershed (which hasn't gotten even slightly boring yet - this is one seriously great album), I Googled up the piece I wrote on them for the Cleveland Scene back in 2003, when Deliverance was new and Damnation wasn't out yet, to see if my ideas about the band had changed in five years. They haven't, really. Here's a link to the old piece.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Excellent Carl Wilson interview.


Yes, I do have some songs on my iPod that are less than 20 years old...

Grant Green, "Luny Tune" (Talkin' About)
Gorguts, "Dormant Misery" (The Erosion Of Sanity)
Grave, "Extremely Rotten Flesh" (Into The Grave)
Underworld, "Blueski" (Second Toughest In The Infants)
John Zorn, "Abraxas" (Moonchild: Songs Without Words)
Cake, "Comfort Eagle" (Comfort Eagle)
Venom, "Don't Burn The Witch" (Black Metal)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, "A Time And A Place" (Tarkus)
Gorguts, "Rapturous Grief" (Obscura)
Sanchez, "End Of The World" (King Jammy's Selectors Choice)
The O'Jays, "Love Train" (The Sound Of Philadelphia)
Julian Priester, "Prologue/Love, Love" (Love, Love)
Ted Nugent, "Where Have You Been All My Life" (The Ultimate Ted Nugent)
Humble Pie, "Big Black Dog" (The Definitive Collection)
Deep Purple, "Black Night (Single Mix)" (In Rock)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


The National Enquirer is reporting that Patrick Swayze has five weeks to live.

First Jeff Healey, now Swayze? Clearly Road House was a cursed set. Somebody check in on Marshall "I used to fuck guys like you in prison" Teague.


Sorry, Nuge. Sorry, Frampton. Double-live albums are for pussies. The '70s were the era of the triple-live album. Santana's Lotus. Yes's Yessongs. Wings' Wings Over America. Shit, you can throw Chicago's four-disc Chicago at Carnegie Hall on the list—just don't throw it on the stereo. And, of course, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, the album that proves the trio considered the 20-minute studio version of "Tarkus" restrained: Live, it balloons to a mind-crushing 27:24. And let's not even discuss the 35-minute version of the "Karn Evil 9" suite that ends the show. Emerson, Lake & Palmer were some bloat-tastic motherfuckers. [Read the rest here.]


Soundtrack to a rainy commute:

Jandek, "Feathered Drums" (Six And Six)
Sly & The Family Stone, "Time For Livin' (Alt. Take)" (Small Talk)
Znowhite, "Bringin' The Hammer Down" (All Hail To Thee)
The Ocean, "Calymmian" (Precambrian)
David Bowie, "Kingdom Come" (Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps))
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Y Control" (Fever To Tell)
Napalm Death, "M.A.D." (Scum)
Sonny Rollins, "I Know" (With The Modern Jazz Quartet)
Orthrelm, "Gharaail Ist (Milrilm)" (2nd 18/04)
Sir Patrick Idahosa And His African Sound Makers, "Eni" (Lagos All Routes)
Whitesnake, "The Deeper The Love" (The Definitive Collection)
Lamb Of God, "Break You" (Ashes Of The Wake)
Ayumi Hamasaki, "Not Yet" (Secret)
Melvins/Lustmord, "Toadi Acceleratio" (Pigs Of The Roman Empire)
Ted Nugent, "Free For All" (The Ultimate Ted Nugent)

Monday, March 03, 2008

3.3.08: 28

Soundtrack to a morning of waiting room, post office and train station tedium:

Fantomas, "04/28/05 Thursday" (Suspended Animation)
Daft Punk, "Superheroes" (Discovery)
Mutamassik & Morgan Craft, "Permanent And Humane/End" (Rough Americana)
King Crimson, "The Great Deceiver" (The Great Deceiver)
Mark Putney, "Don't Come Around Here Anymore" (What It Is!)
Hermano, "Letters From Madrid" (...Into The Exam Room)
Oscar Brown Jr., "Chicken Heads" (What It Is!)
Sam Rivers, "Luminous Monolith" (Fuschia Swing Song)
Hank Williams, "Let's Turn Back The Years" (Turn Back The Years)
Thelonious Monk, "Bye-Ya" (Monk's Dream)
Napalm Death, "Cold Forgiveness" (Diatribes)
Larry Young, "Alive" (Lawrence Of Newark)
Orthrelm, "Untitled 76" (Asristir Vieldriox)
Isis, "Maritime [Mike Patton Remix]" (Oceanic: Remixes/Reinterpretations)
Dream Theater, "Misunderstood (Edited Version)" (Greatest Hit [...and 21 other cool songs])
Ol' Dirty Bastard, "Don't U Know" (Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version)
Mala Rodríguez, "Por La Noche" (Malamarismo)
Main, "Haloform Part II" (Hz)
Nynningen, "Efterdyning" (Pregnant Rainbows For Colourblind Dreamers)
Sonic Youth, "Candle" (Daydream Nation)
David S. Ware, "Stargazers" (Live In The World)
Arsis, "Seven Whispers Fell Silent" (A Celebration Of Guilt)
Radiohead, "Airbag" (Airbag/How Am I Driving?)
Blut Aus Nord, "The Fall" (The Work Which Transforms God)
Bobby Few, "Bells" (Lights And Shadows)
Motörhead, "The Game" (Hammered)
Ojos de Brujo, "Piedras vs. Tanques" (Techarí)
Massive Attack, "Black Milk" (Mezzanine)