Monday, July 31, 2006


I got Total 7, the latest volume in Kompakt's compilation series, in today's mail. It comes out on Aug. 22, competing for your retail dollar with the new Deicide, Lamb of God, Kelis and Paris Hilton albums, and like its immediate predecessor, it's a 2CD set. As has been established, I like this stuff for its uniformity and anonymity, and this latest dispatch is the best one yet - or at least, just as good as all the others, which as far as I'm concerned is the same thing.


“I don’t know if [Condoleeza Rice] visits those kids at the hospitals, but I do. I hang out with the boys who are half my age with their faces gone, triple amputees with their balls gone and their guts gone. They have those little porta-toilets, and you stand next to a soldier and you both pretend you’re not smelling his shit in that bucket as you talk to him.” - Henry Rollins, from an interview I conducted last week for the Cleveland Scene. He's on tour with the Rollins Band (not the Mother Superior version, the real one with Chris Haskett and Melvin Gibbs and Sim Cain). They're opening for X, who have had Billy Zoom back on guitar for a number of years now. What I'm saying is, you have no excuse for being anywhere else if/when they hit Yourtown.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


My review of Keiji Haino's newish 2CD set, Animamima, on which he's backed by 20 sitar players, is in the Baltimore City Paper this week. So all you Balto-based Haino freaks, hit your local record store and demand this beauty.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I have done a lot of interviews in the past week or so - Francisco Lopez, Henry Rollins, two guys from Trivium, and today Ornette Coleman. And with the single exception of the vocalist/guitarist from Trivium, who was nice enough but kinda bored 'n' dull, they have all been really positive experiences. Lopez is urbane, smart as a motherfucker, and extremely nice; Rollins, who I've interviewed twice before in person, is also extremely nice, and a talker, and a giant music geek (the first time I talked to him, we spent 45 minutes doing standard interview talk, and then, when I turned off the tape recorder, we spent an additional hour talking about jazz - this time, he wound up our conversation by asking me Miles Davis sessionography trivia for his radio show); the drummer from Trivium, Travis Smith, is an enthusiastic kid with brains and a good sense of humor about his music, his job, and everything else (that shouldn't be taken to imply that I dislike Trivium - their first album is good, if a little too metalcore-y in parts with the clean choruses and all, and the new one absolutely smokes); and Ornette Coleman is, well, Ornette motherfucking Coleman. I've seen him play live twice, as mentioned below, have played the Beauty Is A Rare Thing box about 1000 times since buying it the week it was released, and his new album is just as brilliant and beautiful as you're hoping it will be. It's live from last year, with the two-bass band he's been traveling with since '03,'s hard to describe just how fucking awesome it is. It's called Sound Grammar, it comes out on 9/12, and if you don't buy it, there's no excuse you can offer - I just don't want to be your friend anymore.

Anyway, the interview went better than I even hoped it would - he's soft-spoken, thoughtful, laughs out loud at his own insights and his interviewer's responses, and rambles from topic to topic exactly the way his saxophone picks up a melody and goes tearassing across the universe, eventually coming back to where he started as though nothing out of the ordinary happened in between. So yeah, I'm pretty much floating about a foot off the ground as I type this. I don't even care that my iPod died yesterday, and ordinarily a thing like that would have pretty much crippled me for the rest of the week.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I recently listened to a whole fuckin' lot of Venom. Resulting outburst here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This piece leaves me kinda relieved, and kinda disappointed, that I only got to interview Arielle Dombasle by e-mail. I don't know if I have the temperament for such a stereotyped meet-the-starlet-for-breakfast encounter, and frankly I suspect I don't. We would have bonded over our opinions of Broadway tourists, though, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Sub Pop
"Dogwood Rust" opens this album in mid-groove, a jazzy but amped-up strut reminiscent of John McLaughlin's Devotion, or Blue Cheer covering "Third Stone From The Sun." Comets on Fire make no secret of their stoner leanings; there are riffs on this disc Nebula or even Kyuss would kill to claim. The album's indisputable peak, "Sour Teeth," starts with a thunderous, Zeppelin-like groove, driven by bass and electric piano but utterly dependent on Utrillo Kushner's throbbing, tribal drums. Stinging guitar riffs fill out the soundscape, bolstering meditative choral vocals. Just after the six-minute mark, the band drifts into a piano-driven interlude, before amping up and taking the song out, heavy again. But there are plenty of quiet moments, too; "Lucifer's Memory" and the album closer, "Hatched Upon The Age," are keyboard-based and reminiscent of Mountain's softer moments. More early '70s than late '60s, this album is a proudly retro-rock monsterpiece.

Friday, July 14, 2006


You know how, when punk first emerged, a lot of people heard it and said, "Shit, I could do that"? That's exactly what I think when I listen to Thom Yorke's The Eraser. That being said, I like it a lot better than Hail To The Thief, or, in the category of "Things I Definitely Couldn't Do Myself," the Phish Live In Brooklyn triple-CD I tried to get through yesterday. (For the record, I made it all the way through Disc 1 and about 10 minutes into Disc 2 before bailing for good - they're not bad exactly, just totally unmemorable. By Track Five of Disc 1, I couldn't remember one thing I'd heard in Tracks 1-4.)


The greatest movie never made is in line to be remade. Now, I have never been a Jerry Lewis fan. Not even The Nutty Professor (the flick everybody busts out when they wanna say "No, really, he's a genius") does jack for me. But I am a fiercely loyal Paul Schrader fan. I even like Light Sleeper and his Exorcist movie. (Even the presence of nekkid Gretchen Mol won't get me to stick up for Forever Mine, though.) So I will wind up seeing this thing, certainly on DVD and maybe even in a theater.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Newly arrived in today's mail: Vicente Fernandez, The Living Legend. A 3CD boxed set by the biggest male mariachi singer possibly ever. He's got a discography nearly 80 albums deep, and all their covers are reproduced inside the lavish booklet, as are the posters to the majority of his movies (one of them's probably playing on Telemundo as I type this). I also got a CD/DVD combo live package by his son, Alejandro, the other day, but frankly, Dad stomps all over his kid, who seems content to slick his hair back and play to the ladies in the front row rather than bellowing for the rafters like the old man. There's something about mariachi music that really gets me just right, whether sung by men or women - I think it's a damn shame that some shitty indie-rock band hijacked the name Lucero. (She played triplets in Lazos De Amor!)


My review of the 4CD Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly box, in this week's Village Voice.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Remember how US pundits kept harping on how humiliating it was for Bill Clinton to have answered the "boxers or briefs" question on MTV? At least he wasn't asked to weigh in on Cthulhu.


Morning shuffle:

Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box"
Death, "Flattening Of Emotions"

[It was at this point that my iPod crashed and had to be rebooted.]
Following reboot:

Death, "Vacant Planet"
Che, "Adelante"
Fred Wesley & the JBs, "Dirty Harry"
Gang Of Four, "Outside The Trains Don't Run On Time (EP Version)"
Unsane, "Sick"
Jimi Hendrix, "Mannish Boy"
Yes, "The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun)"
The Stooges, "I Wanna Be Your Dog"
DJ Krush, "Still Island"
Anthrax, "In My World"

Ya gotta love that Yes/Stooges transition. I know I sure did.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I bought the reissues of Eyehategod's In The Name Of Suffering, Take As Needed For Pain and Dopesick this week. The first comes with four demo tracks appended, all of which were previously available on the (still in print) 10 Years Of Abuse And Still Broke disc, which is otherwise made up of live stuff. The second and third divide up (six tracks on Take..., three on Dopesick) all the stuff that used to be on the Southern Discomfort compilation. So, absolutely nothing new here for the serious EHG fan. The remastering job done on the albums themselves is nice, though.

(Funny thing: even though all three discs have liner notes by EHG singer Mike Williams, I get the feeling the rest of the band bears their former label some ill will: the six Southern Discomfort tracks on Take... all come from 7"s EHG put out between albums on various tiny indie labels, and the versions here are quite audibly mastered from vinyl. They never gave the original tapes to Century Media for use on Southern Discomfort or on these reissues.)

What Eyehategod accomplished was pretty unique and important, to my ear anyway. They were to Black Sabbath what Pussy Galore were to the Stones, in a way. These first three discs, Take... in particular (though Dopesick is my personal favorite), sound like a combination of the first Black Sabbath album, Black Flag's My War (both sides - they do play fast from time to time) and Swans' Filth. Feedback all through every song, vocals that are totally indecipherable (and can't be matched up to the enclosed lyrics, ever), pounding semi-tribal drums, and riffs like a chainsaw spinning in mud. I saw them live twice. The second time, in 1999 or maybe 2000, at CBGBs with Buzz*Oven and some other bands I don't remember, they had a roadie singing, because Mike Williams was in jail or detox or something, but the rest of them needed the money, so down the road they went. The first time, with Neurosis and Unsane at Irving Plaza, in 1997 (they must have been touring behind Dopesick), Williams looked like he was gonna fall right on his face if he ever let go of the mic stand, and the rest of the band looked like they wouldn't bother picking him up if he did. I don't use phrases like "bad vibes" very often, but the negativity coming off that stage was like a physical force in the room. Truly disturbing, and a surprising amount of that comes through in the studio recordings. I recommend all three of these albums (and the rest of their catalog, for that matter, even the newish Preaching The End-Time Message comp, which is sort of Southern Discomfort Vol. 2 and which I haven't heard yet) unreservedly.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Direct quote from a Viagra spam e-mail I just received about a dozen copies of:

"And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in your hall without a word of explanation?"


I saw GWAR in 1989 at City Gardens in Trenton, a few days before Halloween. There was a pre-show costume contest, and the winner was dressed as Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman. GWAR's opening bands were Mudhoney, the Fluid and Steelpole Bathtub. It's still one of my fondest live musical memories. 20 years later, they're still at it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


or, Monday Morning Shuffle...

Kataklysm, "The Road To Devastation"
Julieta Venegas, "Limon y Sal"
Earth, Wind & Fire, "Fantasy"
The Sword, "March Of The Lor"
Motorhead, "Broken"
Yakuza, "Chicago Typewriter"
Tad, "Hibernation"
Lamb Of God, "The Faded Line"
Sao Paulo Underground, "Numa Grana"
T.Raumshmiere, "Ost-Strom"
The Obsessed, "Brother Blue Steel"
The Sword, "Iron Swan"
Led Zeppelin, "Stairway To Heaven"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


CDs I will be bringing to the office tomorrow, to help me face returning to duty after five days off:

Albert Ayler, Holy Ghost, Discs 1 and 2
Miles Davis, The Cellar Door Sessions, Disc 4
Hawkwind, In Search Of Space
Randy Holden, Population II
King Crimson, The Great Deceiver (Live 1973-1974), Discs 1 and 2
Pentagram, Day Of Reckoning
Marc Ribot, Spiritual Unity
DJ Shadow, Endtroducing.....
Slayer, Christ Illusion
UA, Sun

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I've never been a big one for musical nationalism. True Norwegian Black Metal seems as nonsensical to me as Lee Greenwood, conceptually speaking (from a purely aesthetic perspective, I like the former a hell of a lot more). So the choice of what to play on the 4th of July is a somewhat tricky one. I love early-70s American hard rock (Aerosmith, Grand Funk Railroad, Cactus, Mountain, ZZ Top, Montrose, Lynyrd Skynyrd, et al.), but that's not gonna fly in my reggaeton-slathered neighborhood. Plus, a lot of that music has been "co-opted" by knuckle-draggers whose politics I don't exactly share. (I particularly don't wanna talk about Ted Nugent - I love all the records he made between 1975 and 1980, but damn, he needs to shut up 'n' play his guitar.)

I've also been disappointed by recent "political" rock records. Neil Young's new one is, like every other Neil Young record, half-baked shit. Sometimes he stumbles onto a diamond, but the guy's more erratic than any major recording artist save maybe Lou Reed (and whether critics my dad's age [if he was still alive] wanna admit it or not, Neil Young is way more major than Lou Reed will ever be). Bruce Springsteen's album sounded fun heard with half an ear on the office sound system, but I haven't exactly been driven to go out and buy one for repeated home listening.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce the return of one of America's truly great bands, just in time (in my house anyway) for the 4th of July weekend. I got a watermarked advance of Slayer's Christ Illusion in yesterday's mail, and it fucking smokes.

As all devoted Slayer fans know, drummer Dave Lombardo has returned, invigorated by his tenure with Fantomas, guest appearances with Testament and John Zorn, and his sometime band Grip Inc., and he is slamming the kit with better technique, more control and yes, greater power than he did even on the band's classic 1986-1990 trilogy (Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss, for those not fully up on their Slayerology). Christ Illusion is a fast, enraged album. The disc I have is 43 minutes long, but includes two takes on opening cut "Flesh Storm," with imperceptible differences in the lead vocal performance (and Tom Araya is in fine voice indeed, sounding like he's on the brink of an aneurysm). Some of the noisy/artsy guitar sounds the band explored on the albums they did with Paul Bostaph are still there, but the way they lock in around Lombardo makes this a full return to form. And the lyrics are pure venom, with a more political edge than I recall in some time. Yeah, there's a lot of Jesus-bashing, but it's better thought-out (more aimed at the Church, and the followers) than, say, Deicide's equally musically excellent but lyrically boneheaded new one, The Stench Of Redemption.

Street date for Christ Illusion is August 8, but I'm gonna be blaring it (and the Slayer back catalog) on the 4th, because if you've ever seen them live, you'll understand why Slayer makes me proud to be an American.