Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gwar News

I know it might seem a bit out-of-character, but yes, I was a scumdog. So, it's pretty sad to hear that Cory's dead. I wouldn't say we were close friends, but I know many in the Smoot family, and some are good friends. Very sad to hear, really. No, there's no joke, no punchline, no point. That's how life is- things happen, then, arbitrary as it seems, you die. Bummer, huh?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Janes Addiction/Wilco Deathmatch!!!!

Ok, ok, not really. But, because I bought both in the same week, I can't help comparing and contrasting.
The comparison is that both bands have settled into a comfortable middle age. Both have mellowed out. I don't think that Dave Navarro is in any danger of overdosing in a club bathroom, and I don't think Jeff Tweedy is going to blow his brains out- so, when I say "mellowed out", I guess I mean "have rejoined humanity". Both Albums sound relaxed and confident as compared to earlier, and you'd think that would be a good thing.
I think the contrast comes in based upon how suitable "mellowing out" is for each band. For Wilco, with their Electronic/Americana blend, it's a great fit. Dialing down the angst means that you get a chance to enjoy the melodies, and understand that they're enjoying them too. The themes still have spiked bits about loss, death, alienation, and existential dread, but from a more abstract view. There's still room for Nels to wig out, but it reads more like jokes between friends, than stubborn refusals to roll over.
Meanwhile, Jane's Addiction were dark Rock gods- the debauched sons of Led Zep, with Bauhaus theatrics. They don't sound like monsters of their Id, anymore, and that means they are now? what? Former monsters. Caged Rock beasts. Retired and toothless sleaze alligators. It's just not the right fit. We all like it when our depressed friend cheers up a bit, but do we really like it when the stripper's DJ decides to play weddings and Bar Mitzvahs? The comfort they radiate is less that of friendship and communal effort, and more about financial stability. There are parts that sound like the worst of U2- when they're coasting on formula. There are moments that call forth the primal ooze of their libidos, but precious little bodily fluids get spilled, least of all, blood, and, quite frankly, they suffer from becoming well adjusted middle aged businessmen.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what's not there- Wilco had Jay Bennett, and Jane's Addiction had Eric Avery. Wilco seems to have benefited from removing the conflict that Bennett brought, since towards the end, all he brought was conflict and Janes Addiction just isn't they same band without Eric Avery fighting against Perry and Dave. His contributions gave the songs thrust, and subversion by countering the more conventional stylings of Dave's Van Halenisms and the melodrama of Perry's histrionics.
So, yes, in this Deathmatch, Wilco wins. Even down to the titles- The Whole Love can be read two ways- as the entire love, or as the healthy love. The Great Escape Artist can be read two ways, as well- as Harry Houdini, or as a vacation planner ( an Artist at "great escapes"). Which would you rather listen to?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Now this is news

Remember back in the 1980's, before MTV News took the bassline, Megadeth's Peace Sells? Remember the part in the video when the kids says "This is the news!"? Yeah, good times... Well, I'm not a fan of Atari Teenage Riot, and the songs is a second-rate Rage against The Machine pastiche, but I like the video for Black Flags, because it is the news...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Yes, I've got a twitter account. But I'm JAFO on there. (Look it up. JAFO, that is. My handle on Twitter is @MattMaxVan )
Yes, on one level, totally sold out. But I still don't plan on "tweeting" and I still think Twitter is a degrading concept that will further erode us as human beings- and no, I'm not saying that facetiously, as some kind of hyperbolic humour. I really think it's bad for you, as a person, the same way I think that wine coolers are bad for you as a person, or the same way that I think USA Today is bad for journalists, as journalists. It's crap that lowers the standards. But, I can't watch the decay from afar, so I got an account, and followed some folks. There. let's watch the empire fall, shall we?

In place of a post

Here's a life lesson for you: next time somebody asks you to work a second job, say no, if you can.
Yeesh, I've been ultra busy. However, I thought I'd drop a line or two.
I've bought some new releases. I hate none of it, but I'm surprised by what I like more and less. I bought both the new Jane's Addiction, and the new Wilco. Strangely enough, I'm in love with the new Wilco, and just like the new Jane's Addiction. Also, I got Lydia Loveless' Indestructible Machine, and it's pretty satisfying, as is the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack. I didn't really expect that out of either one. I expected Loveless to have a couple of decent sub-Lucinda Williams type alt-country grinders, and the Boardwalk soundtrack to be pale imitations of the gutsy music of the roaring 20's. Instead, Lydia Loveless does a fairly fresh take on Country punk, and the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack has pretty authentic takes on some vintage songs.
Speaking of Boardwalk Empire, I'm more and more impressed by Michael Shannon, and I really dig that they've spent a few episodes dealing with honest appraisals of race and politics in America. It's absolutely must-see stuff, so if you don't have HBO, or you live somewhere without the show, I really would suggest you at least rent or otherwise obtain the DVD when it comes out. This is what television should be.
I'm also watching the Walking Dead. I've liked it a lot, but with the new episodes deviating from the comic book, it's getting into much more morally interesting ground. Seriously, I'm intrigued by some of the philosophical quandaries presented and could see how it could be a good teaching tool for a sophomore philosophy class, somewhere.
So, I will post, soon, don't forget about me, I just have to find some time.