Saturday, September 4, 2010


Blurt Magazine ( the online version of what was once Harp magazine) has a piece by Fred Mills (who I remember from our shared Tucson days, though I imagine he remembers me not at all) on one of my all-time favorite records- The Dream Syndicate's Medicine Show. Follow the link, go and read. A few things to add, though- First Steve Wynn is not just a huge musical hero to me, he's also one of the most subtle, literate songwriters in any Pop idiom. I taught high School English, very briefly, and when I did, Steve's were the only lyrics I used in the classroom. Not Dylan, not Springsteen- Wynn, because his were better for showing characterization, metaphor and allusion. He writes songs like other people write short stories. Sure, Dylan writes poetry, and Springsteen has some great images, but take this verse from The Medicine Show's "Merrittville"
Matthew with the pug nose/
Caught me with his sister in the wheatfield/
Got a couple buddies/
Tied me up and threw me in his Oldsmobile/
I said "Matthew are you crazy?"/
As he started closing in for the kill/
Matthew slowed the Olds to 10/
Left me here to die in Merrittville/

The whole story is right there- it's like a James Ellroy book in a few lines.
Second, that music- it's panoramic rock with country, psychedelic, blues and Jazz touches. There are bits that get echoed in bands as diverse as Wilco and Isis. The music is still completely current. I would listen to it again, in a heartbeat, over against the Arcade Fire or whatever hype of the moment is going down. It's some of the finest music you can hear- deep and dark, and rootsy and cutting edge. Many of the songs sound like a bar band made up of slumming jazz and blues artists, trying to kick heroin while they play garage rock. Tell me that's a sound you'll hear often!
Third, and finally- in terms of Biography- in 1984, I was still completely, fully about hardcore Punk rock, and "death Rock". I only saw the Dream Syndicate by mistake, one night, when they were playing after the first, very- Velvet Underground inspred record was out. So, I thought they were a slightly goth noise band- like Non playing Chris D songs. So, I was blind-sided completely by the record. It's amazing that a kid like me would like it- it's got very little to compare with either the Circle Jerks or Christian Death, which is where my head was at. Imagine, for a modern comparison, some kid who's a huge Slipknot fan putting on a Sparklehorse CD. It opened me up, such that I could get into huge new amounts of music- I would never have given at least half of my favorite music a chance if it weren't for The Medicine Show. So, maybe it'll do something similar for you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Self- Reference

So, I never look at stats. It never even crosses my mind that some folks might read this stuff and take it all that seriously. However, today I did look at the stats- it appears that, far and away, I've got more dEUS fans than anybody else reading this.
Excellent! While I'm still not the biggest fan of the pre-millenial work by the band, that stuff is not bad at all. That having said, the last two Cd's, especially Vantage Point are just phenomenal. I can respect what a band like Radiohead or Mogwai are doing, but it's nowhere near the pleasure of a band that can combine such high-minded conceptual ideas with the commercial pop appeal of a band like Coldplay, or U2, or what-have-you.
While my writing might not be all that polished (I rarely edit this whatsoever, so spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos abound) I really hope that you who've come here from places like the iSuffer community will look at a few of the other posts, because you might (just maybe) find some other thing that amuses you, or entertains you. I really think that virtually every band, TV show, Book or movie I've mentioned has some value, and if I can serve any function, I'd like for it to be that I introduced someone to some new pleasure.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Couple of newer bands

So, Paste magazine just went under. I guess that's too bad, but really, everything is temporary. The whole culture will not last, and that's a good thing, because everything is evolving, and we just find our evolutionary dead end, then, die there. Then, our corpses provide the fertilizer for the next stage. Still, I'd prefer it if some ancient baby-boomer worshipping rag like Rolling Stone or Relix or something bit it, first. Paste might have been more pretentious than Pitchfork (and that's mighty pretentious, indeed) but it was at least trying to do something new.
Blogs are all but dead, and Wired even says the Internet is Dead (so does Prince) so I know my cul de sac is right here, but I'm good with it. I am not trying to bring the next level about, I'm just talking about what I like.
That same sense permeates two new-ish bands I've been listening to, the past day or so- M.I.L.D. and Zed. Both would have been revolutionary 20 years ago, but now, are a bit traditional, and seem to enjoy the thought of settling into middle age.
M.I.L.D. play a kind of New wave styled punk/Rock hybrid. Which is, they play a bit too fast for traditional blues rock, but it's still a boogie. The edge is smoothed off, making it more "New Wave" than punk. So, what's the attraction? The singer. He's got a really odd voice- very nasal and very teutonic. He sounds like a german Peter Murphy trying to do a mark Burgess overemotion. Very odd, and compelling. But then check out the pictures- Dude has FABIO hair, and is wearing mandatory Euro-capris. I am intrigued.
Meanwhile, Zed play fairly standard Kyuss-inspired Stoner rock, with some Clutch-inspired Blooz. But, you know what? They're just snotty and reckless enough that I'd say they have the rock. Sure, Stoner Rock is a certain dead end. It's basically the commercial end of sludge metal, filtered through the prism of early 1970's signifiers, but infused with a bit of a snotty teen rebel stance, it can be more fun than the latter day Grunge metal. What I'm saying is that musically, they may not be offering anything more worthy than Soundgarden, but they sound like they're having more fun than Alice in Chains could ever understand. I think they know, just like I know, that they're making no evolutionary leaps, here- but they're really enjoying their cul de sac.
I'd suggest you give both a listen, and decide for yourself. That's got to be better than looking at this virtual page!