Monday, December 31, 2012

Couple more things

Where I'm at, it's not yet 2013, so just to close out a few things-
I bought two more DVD's using a gift card so, we'll call them Christmas presents, as well. I got Portlandia's Season Two. The show is great, the bonus features are nice, the packaging is well, ecologically friendly.
I also got Dead Man, the Jim Jarmusch film starring Johnny Depp. If you haven't seen it, it's a great film, up there with The Proposition and High Plains Drifter.
Also, while I'm looking forward to a few things, I'm not expecting 2013 to contain as many goodies as 2012, so I might change the blog again in the coming months. I'm not certain about that. However, media is changing, and so am I.  We'll see.
What will not change, is that I still want to see a shift in Culture, away from Mass, and into Individual, and Folk, and Subcultural.
Finally, if 2012 sucked for you, I'm sorry the Mayan Apocalypse didn't pan out. If it didn't suck that badly, then I still hope that we can make our not-post-apocalyptic lives worth that would-be glorious end. (I mean, we've all got to die- but if you have to die, wouldn't it be more glorious to go out in an Apocalypse? So, if we've been denied that, then, let's hope our lives are even more glorious than dying in the end of all things.)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Xmas to me.

Sometimes, you have to know your limits. I really wish I was much more cool, hip and stylish than I am. I'd like to be Michael Caine in 1968, Sean Connery in 1963, Steve Mcqueen in 1973, Robert Redford, virtually any time,  Brad Pitt any time after 1996, and so on. Hell, there's some I cannot even dream of being- I'll never be Sam Jackson, Lou Reed, or Johnny Lydon. So, I knew getting a pair of super cool aviator shades was beyond me. I wanted Bradley Cooper in the Hangover or  Jeffrey Donovan in Burn Notice but, unfortunately the best I could get was  Anthony Edwards in Top Gun .
So, after polling the women in my life, who always have a better idea of what's my best look, I went with Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs and went with Lookmatic's take on the Ray Ban Clubmaster, The Austin.
Of course, I also got stuff that others bought for me. Book-wise, it was a catch up- I got the Portable Henry Rollins, and The Portlandia guide to Portland . Both are topics that you probably are done and over with, so I won't bore you, even if they don't bore me.
DVD's? I got two TV series. I got Boardwalk Empire's first season, as well as The Walking Dead's first season.If you're not already watching both, you probably don't want a TV, so again, nothing much to say.
I didn't get any music- I think everyone knows I'm pretty set for that...
Finally, I did get a video game- Metro 2033 I haven't played it yet, so no review- but I'm into post apocalyptic shooting video games so I bet I like it. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of? We don't need no Steenking " Best Of"

Ok, so you know that I'm not really good at "best of" or "end of year" lists. But I know they are expected of sites like mine, so, here's some stuff that happened this year that I think you're missing out if you missed it, grouped by month:
January: Nothing. Not A Damn Thing.
February: Die Antwoord at the 930 club. Mark Lanegan Blues Funeral
Normally, I'm with Henry on "Rave music" But, Die Antwoord is more punk rock than most punk rock.
Also, Mark Lanegan's "Blues Funeral". Ye gads, the guy is good. He could sing the phone book and it'd sound like a three day bender complete with divorce and hangover.Also, have you heard Dark Mark ? If you haven't, secure it somehow. You'll most likely have to break the law to do so, but ye gads, the guy is good.
March: Meh. It was a month....
April- Wow! ok, Black God II, Killing Joke MMXII, Coachella, Torche Harmonicraft, and Aeges- The Bridge.
 Black God play hardcore thrash the way it should be done, Killing Joke I shouldn't have to sell you on, Coachella laid down the gauntlet for Live streams, Torche brought the best hard party all year ( Hence I saw 'em twice), and Aeges did the best late 1990's post-hardcore record this side of the Refused.
May- Tragedy- Darker Days Ahead, The Cribs- In the Belly of The Brazen Bull, Dead Ending.
May must be punk rock, or something- first with Tragedy, they upped their game from sludge punk to some undefinable metal punk hybrid that is one part Neurosis, one part Kylesa, and one part Discharge. The Cribs answered the much-needed question- why must someone mix the Pixies and Oasis?, and Dead Ending brought Vic Bondi back to Chicago, with awesome intelligent thrash as the result.
June- dEUS- Following Sea, Silence is Sexy- Modern Antiques, The Hives at the 930 club
dEUS let down the veneer to do a quickie LP that rocks, Silence is Sexy sloughed off this mortal coil with a double LP that mixes Depeche Mode, the Editors and The Beach Boys, and the Hives gave part one of the proof that the Swedes put on the best rocknroll shows.
July- Baroness Yellow and Green, The Refused at the Fillmore, Workers- Both Hands
Baroness evolved into one of our finest psychedelic bands, the Refused gave the definitive proof that the Swedes put on the best Rocknroll shows ever, and the Workers finally put out a second record of awe-inspiring indie rock
August- Bob Mould- Silver Age
Yes, it officially came out in September, but I got it in August. Best record of the year. No question.
September- Bob Mould at the 930 Club
St Bob got off the cross, got happy, rocked hard, melted faces. Amazing.
October- Argo
No I didn't review it here. However that didn't stop it from being the best movie I saw all year.
November- Deftones Koi No Yokan
In which the Deftones prove that post metal doesn't need to be either instrumental, nor too difficult to enjoy
December- Not over yet, but I ain't hopeful.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

MetaData

Sorry if I'm being self-indulgent here, but I have to talk about some behind-the-scenes stuff.
See, it happened again. I got offered a job.  Not a paying job, of course, because those come around every 6 months or so, but a job, nonetheless. I get these about once a month. What was somewhat unusual is that mostly, the job offers I get are technical. This was a writing assignment. I get a request like that about every year or so.
Now, I know my strengths. I'm a very, very good sound engineer. I have exquisite tastes in regards to music and movies. I'm a decent cook, and I can speak really well, having both training and natural gifts for voice work. In other words, I'm better than the best DJ you ever heard. That's my strength. If I sound arrogant, wait for the next paragraph.
See, I also know my weaknesses, and they are legion. I'm really not a good writer. I can convey my thoughts, a bit. But I cannot thrill or engage my reader very well. I have difficulty with sentence structure, and  I am even worse with formally structuring a piece for publication. Further, I'm an ugly git, and more than a little curmudgeonly.
Still my strengths being what they are, I get offers- hey could you write a column, could you do an interview, could you contribute to my magazine, blog, book, or article? I never get a second offer, because the way I write is not what they're looking for. I've lived a very interesting, and somewhat unbelievable life. So friends, from time to time tell me I should write a book. I always act bashful, and "aw shucks" them away, but I know the truth- while my life story is interesting, my way of conveying it would better be a stand up comedy routine- I can't write that down.
So, if you're reading this blog, I do thank you for showing an interest in my thoughts, despite my awkward way of conveying them. However, I've now found that this blog is useful, as well. I simply asked my latest proffer-er of a job to read my blog. That did the trick, quick. They didn't so much as respond with a 'Uh, hey, yeah, the position got filled, thanks" ; they simply vanished. Which is why I bring the whole thing up, and why I'm classifying it as 'Metadata"- I know that the way I write didn't work for him, as opposed to my tastes, or my ability to discern Art and culture. I've been told way too often by far too many musicians, film-makers, TV producers, and other Artists that I "get it" to simply think I've got a bad read on Art, culture and taste. But, that is not what 99% of culture writers are trying to do. Most people writing about music, writing about film, or TV, or whatever else, culturally, ultimately aren't really concerned with conveying the Art- they want to convey something about themselves. Maybe they want to convey how "cool" they are, either in the sense of being hip, or in the sense of being distant. Maybe they want to be funny, or witty. Usually, they want you to think about how clever they are. Me? I don't care one little bit what you think about me. I know that I'm a lousy writer, and even if I was trying to make you think good things about me, I'd mis-communicate enough that you'd end up thinking entirely different things from my intent. That's why I'm loathe to call what I do here 'reviews'- I'm not writerly enough for that term. I'm just using this blog to throw support, in the best way I can, for people who create.
I once had a friend, an artist, explain things brilliantly to me- an Artist's job is to take various things and put them together to build something- notes to make a song, paint to make a picture, and so forth. A Critic's job is the opposite- to take whatever's built apart- to discern the structure and show what's been built and how. Both are valuable, but neither is what I do. What I do is point and say "Ain't this cool?" That's the "meta" behind the "Data" here....

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saw Brian Setzer Last Night

Yes, I was front row center for Brian Setzer's orchestra last night. Yes, they were tickets my wife purchased, however, let me point out that I clearly have a soft spot for Americana ( from The Blasters to X to even QOTSA, one cannot be from Los Angeles without an appreciation for Rockabilly, Blues, and Country) and who doesn't love a Gretsch guitar, stand up bass, and Stand up Drummer? No, it's not innovative. It's musical "comfort food"- but would you say people eat more Burgers or more Pate? Just like a burger, if it was done right, it's satisfying, and actually good for you- and Mr Setzer, despite starting to look like Buck Owens on Hee Haw, serves up some "good for you" jazz chords, and alternate blues scales in each and every traditional song he plays. There were 4 year olds in the audience, and I think it's far, far more righteous for them to see Brian Setzer than The Wiggles, right? If it were your kid, what would you start them out on to set them right? Would you send them straight to Jacques Brel and Lou Reed?  How about John Zorn and Mike Patton? If you would, I don't pity your kids, I pity you, because your kids are going to give you such problems.... I think that all things considered The Brian Setzer Orchestra is an excellent choice for Family Fare. If the Beatles were to re-unite, sure, that'd about cover it, as well, but then you'd have to explain both death and the coming zombie apocalypse to your kids, and that's hardly a good Christmas, now is it?
Still, my kids are grown, why am I going, right? Because I'm still a human being with needs, ok? Jeez, lay off with your vigorous steep learning curve, will ya? ( Don't get me wrong, I know that nobody cares, and are skipping this post to read the Scott Walker review, or are Russian porn bots, but this is fun for me to pretend it's a debate) I went eagerly to see Brian Setzer because I'm not opposed to comforts, especially when they are guilt free, and the guy does make it pretty darn guilt free. Hot musicians playing challenging music? Yup. Using music to communicate complex emotions? Yup. Dance based rock and roll/ Ah, Yup. So, why wouldn't you see the Brian Setzer Orchestra?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kylesa- From the Vaults Vol 1

Wow, more like volume 11... I forgot how aggressive and loud Kylesa used to be....
OK, so this is a stop gap release by the band. Normally, that's a very bad sign, and while it's not a good sign, here,  it is more necessary than it might otherwise be. See, normally, a band releases a collection of B sides and rarities when they're stymied and running out of steam, and generally about to break up. It's one step away from a "greatest hits" LP which is a sure sign of a band that's either entirely gone corporate, or is completely out of ideas.
Then, there's a the Re-Mix Album which is either a cash-in, or an admission that they've got no idea what to do next. That's in opposition to a Dub, which is fueled more by external voices hearing something in the music that the band didn't and so is less about band dynamics than it is about perception.
So, this is a collection of rarities and B sides by Kylesa, and earlier I said it's more necessary than most- that's because there's two distinct sides to Kylesa- on the one side, they're an incredibly loud, dense psychotronic sludge band- like Tragedy or Buzzoven meets Sleep or something, but on the other side, they're a mainstream metal band that can play a gig like Bonnaroo with Phish heads in the audience. So, showing people who might have stepped in with Spiral Shadow, and are expecting a psychedelic Foo Fighters out of them that they come from a darker, grittier and louder place is probably more necessary than hearing some band's noodlings from when they were stoned in the studio.
So, for them that don't know- this is the Kylesa of yore- sludge metal from a decidedly psychotronic, as opposed to psychedelic place- the difference is that this isn't a mellow thing about chemically altered good times- more like a medicinally impaired dysfunctional mental state. This is like Mike Tyson on Zoloft and mixed drinks, having a 10 second psychic moment of lucidity, not like Jeff Bridges chilling on beer and weed having a ten minute blissful trance. What makes it still beautiful is that they're able to find moments of transcendence in crushed out sludge. I dig them because they find the sweet spot between the joyful stoners like Torche and the tribal rage of Neurosis. ( Actually, that'd be a hell of a gig- Torche opening, Kylesa warming up, and then Neurosis headlining)- that's a sweet spot previously occupied by QOTSA, so yes, I dig them a lot. This album is more necessary than it otherwise could be because it brings up the Neurosis end of the spectrum, but it still is filler. They're biding time trying to come up with a worthy follow up to Spiral Shadow ( which is a titanic monolith to try to meet). It will be worth a lot less if the next one isn't a great just-left-of-mainstream LP, because then it'll be the closing of a loop back to the beginning on Kylesa. ( Which, BTW is why I'm not holding my breath on the new QOTSA LP- bringing Dave Grohl and Nick back in so publicly smacks of retread more than return. I hope I'm wrong, and I'm blown away, but there's something that's warning me this may end up being a grunge cabaret nostalgia act) So, if you get this, it's because you really dig Kylesa. Otherwise, let's hope the new LP comes soon....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I live near enough to DC that I gotta comment.

Bad Brains and The Evens both have new ones, and well, I have copies of both. I don't want to be negative, so I'll just say that I was a big fan of Bad Brains, especially the "I against I" LP, but I'm not a fan of everything they do. While the Punky reggae they do is appreciated, this LP "Into the Future" lacks the crazed urgency that made them special. Perhaps it's time to put Bad Brains to bed.
The Evens on the other hand are decent, and actually pretty good when they concentrate on Amy Farina. I actually probably should like them a lot more than I do But, there it is. I don't entirely like them. Part of it is personality- Mr Mackaye and I have had dealings, very far in the past, and I don't like him all that much. Don't get me wrong- we all have off days, and we all change over the years, but I still don't care for the guy, as a person. There's some class issues, and other high minded stuff involved in that, but mainly, it's just a personality clash. But, musically, I also feel like I've heard the Evens before, and done better. When they rock out, they're in Sleater Kinney 's shadow, they're in a debt to K records ( in general) and when they try to be gentle, they're behind Unrest and Velocity Girl. My problem is that I'm already disqualifying myself for analysis because of the aforementioned personality issues. However, I hope I've generated enough goodwill through my candor that you'll understand that I think there's more worthy material out there by other bands in  this area, even, than The Evens. For example, J Robbins can do no wrong- whether it's Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels or the Office of Future Plans, he's got you're post punk with a DC twist covered. Likewise, for carrying on the K records spirit but in a modern way,  Wild Flag, Screaming Females, and a bit of a stretch, but The Dismemberment Plan... Again, I'm not saying that The Evens suck, and I'm not saying I hate the record, just that it doesn't get as much play from me because there are so many other things I prefer. That's about as much as I can say for the two big recent "local" releases.
Now, I'd like to get in a quick whine- Quicksand have reformed and will play this area, but dammit, they're playing at the fracking Black Cat. I really don't like that venue. I mean really don't like. The neighbourhood is beyond the usual uncertainty that rock clubs occupy- it's flat out bad. Parking sucks, and it's hard to get there from here, as well. While it's not as awkward and bad-sounding as the Ottobar, it is still awkward and bad sounding- so, my whine is this- why Walter why? Couldn't you book with the 930 club, or The Fillmore, or hell, Jaxx, or even the aforementioned Ottobar? I'm seriously having doubts about going to see Quicksand because I hate the venue so much. On a Tuesday night, no less? Arrrgh. Well, at least it's sold out, so my ticket might go to a good home....

Sunday, November 25, 2012

See what I saw- Torche edition.

Well, this time, I'm pretty obviously there. Here's a clip I found on Youtube, I'm on the left foot of the stage, thick specs and all. I was distracted by trying to preserve my beer and 10" record, but yeah, it was good.

War, Inc

So, nearly everyone hated this 2008 film, and I can see why. It's political and cultural satire for our ritalin obsessed  undereducated overstimulated  Cartoon Network-based Viacom simulated "lives". It's also partially written by Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser. Leyner is an author who specializes in overkill, and Pikser wrote Bulworth, the very definition of ham-fisted satire, even if it was correct.  See, it's easy to make it sound like I hate it, but I think that's by design. There's something very subtle underneath the bright neon satire. I actually liked Bulworth in that it showed a basic truth, despite itself- that we are ruled by deeply vain people- Warren Beatty or Bill Clinton, you're talking about a guy who's convinced he's friggin Awesome. Likewise, in the little asides, and in the wink-wink nudge nudge acting, there's an awareness that everyone in this film is part of the same machine they're satirizing. I think that comes from Mark Leyner, who targets his overkill, 9 times out of 10, at himself, but John Cusack also is a pretty self-aware movie star, so there's that angle. There's also a streak of nihilism you can read into it, and I think many critics did- it seems to offer no solution,only retreat. However, there's another premise that might account for how little praise the film got- this isn't a "democratic left" film. It's not "republican right", either. It offers up a far darker, but far more insightful view- so long as money is involved, we can't trust ANY of them. The baseline here is that we cannot trust storytellers, including supposedly "honest" ones- Anderson Cooper , amoungst others, is lambasted as being a part of the problem, as is Dick Cheney, as is just about everyone. There's a scene that's nearly a stock scene in a war movie, but the part that reveals what the satire is, I find truly telling: our protagonist is looking for a secret hideout, so he tries to bribe the information out of a little kid, who milks him for more money. Stock scene, and deeply cynical, right? Well, as our hero leaves with the girl he's trying to save, he finds the kid has torched his ride and the kid says "next time you should bring candy". The satire isn't about the convention in a movie of bribing the local- the audience is being satirized for expecting that some third world nation child would want American dollars. The film is saying that we have a pretty screwed up view of the world, and doesn't give us the "out" that we're only as smart as our cultural overlords allow us to be- We're smart enough to know that we're watching a movie , and smart enough to know a cliche, it's not about our intelligence, but rather about our lack of compassion, and our racism- so going back to why the Nihilism- it's because these characters, as people, not as characters in a movie- where would they go? What would they do? Under the best of circumstances, they're screwed up, badly. The only happiness they can know is to hide. It's therefore not espousing that we all retreat- it's espousing that we treat people as people, not characters, brands, or logos. I bet Naomi Klein didn't like the movie, but I can see how the makers of the movie felt they were being true to her message in "Shock Doctrine". Just like that book, the only real answer is to re-set our world view, not to follow this program or that, and I don't think many people are ready for that. I've got proof that I'm right in my reading of the film, and proof that I'm right that people didn't "get" it. That's a bit besides the point, however, in that I bring up the whole mess because it dovetails with my theme of the moment that rather than trusting reviews or trusting artists, we should trust our own experience of Art. Again, the solution I'm proposing against "mass culture" is individual, idiosyncratic culture. Even if no one else will understand. Re-watching this film reminds me that it can be a political solution, as well....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Scott Walker Bish Bosch

I find it's best to never fully believe an Artist. They'll tell you the truth, but it'll be "their truth"- it will be heavily subjective, and from a perspective that isn't yours. Such is definitely the case with Scott Walker, and if you follow me, it'll strip away most of the enigma from him, so, only read this if you want the mystery gone.
See, he started out as a crooner- more aligned with Perry Como, Neil Sedaka, Burt Bacharach and so on than the Teen pop he was identified as being. Then, he took the crooner style to an anti-confessional style just as confessional singer-songwriters got popular. Along the way, he got a knack for delivering lyrics that were astute "slice of life" kitchen dramas of the the minute moments of pathos in every day British life. Then, goes the myth that created the mystery, he retreated and became surreal. I don't think that's it at all- instead, I think he wanted to get even more concrete- he abandoned narrative, he abandoned pop song structure, and pursued a more and more accurate depiction of what "real life" as he saw it, occurred. Our thoughts don't follow a narrative, so why should his lyrics? Likewise, our lives don't have a pop soundtrack, so his songs are not melodic, but evocative. You cannot simultaneously be an observer and the observed, so he became reclusive and removed. I don't see any mystery in his method.
So, why listen to Scott Walker? Because just like real life, amidst the cacophony and chaos, we create order   in our minds, we come up with harmonies in our head. So, I'd like to think that what my brain does with his perspective is to add my pleasant delusions, and thus, I hear far more pretty things in my life than he does in his.
It's certainly not "easy" listening, so I don't blame anyone for hating this, but this points out the other side of "truth"-don't fully trust critics, either. They're only able to give you their perspective, as well. Ultimately, you have to trust your ears, eyes and mind. That's the value in mentioning any of this-to get you to trust me a little less in my aesthetics, and a little more in my philosophy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saw Anthony Bourdain

So, my wife likes reality TV a lot more than I do. She likes the house hunting, Travel and "ghost" type of shows as opposed to the Kardsahian, bored housewife or beauty pageant type of shows. She also reads a lot of Food network books. She also loves the bluesy type of garage rock that Jon Spencer plays, or the Black Keys pursue so, Anthony Bourdain is a natural fit for her. I have become a bit of a fan by osmosis. I have a bit of the oppositional nature of my teen aged years, still, so I still divide the world up a bit as "with us" and "against us". In that very false dichotomy ( there is no cultural "them" in order for there to be an "us"- people just have tastes) Bourdain would, by image, consistently come up on the "us" side of the equation.
However, I've worked in Entertainment, as a broad category, so I'm choosing my words very carefully, here.     I no more know what Tony Bourdain really likes to listen to at home, or what clothes he wears when going to the market, nor how he keeps his home than I know how he was as a chef. But, in that  "Reality" of TV, he has featured Josh Homme, The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells and his theme music is by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. His books have a slightly Hunter S Thompson gonzoid edge, and he dresses like a relatively rich guy who has been at the back of clubs I've gone to, as well, so, again, the image is of a rapidly aging hipster, much like most of my friends, so, yeah, that would seem to be sympathetic to my cause, at least. Therefore, the guy got me to listen to him. Now a fair percentage of the TV shows he's done trade in the same kind of cheap exoticism that was Bourgie and imperial back when Oscar Wilde was a hot topic, but some of the message- about trying to appreciate everywhere for simply being what it is, about travel being its own reward, and about just being friendly- I can get behind that, no problem. No, I'm not a total hypocrite nor am I unaware of how much of a jackass I can be, so, yes, I can be bourgie and imperial and worse as well. I don't have to support things that are against us though, right? So, it wasn't until Anthony Bourdain went against Paula Deen that I could get behind the guy. Simply put, I more than share the belief that a large portion of American culture is designed to kill people, and sell them crap to make that slow death more palatable, so I'll gladly support someone willing to use their celebrity, however false it may be, against that process.
So, I was glad to go when my wife bought tickets. It was basically the same show as this guy saw. It's very well-rehearsed, but pretty funny, and fairly insightful. We got VIP passes, so it was nice to see Benn and Rachel from Atomic were partially sponsoring the event.  The mirage of "Us" is always better maintained when you see friends are involved.
I even got a book signed ( To "Max Van" 'cause that's how I roll)  and I can report that, up close and personal? While I still have no clue as to who Tony Bourdain is, "Anthony Bourdain" is definitely "one of us"- he might be a bit self-involved and aging badly, but he is trying to raise the flag for beauty, truth, art and culture. That's an "us" that doesn't need a 'them" for justification, right?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Events

So, I've been to another Torche show this week. Torche stomped a new one out, literally- they played both sides of their unreleased next 7 inch, and if you thought the bomb string was dead, you're in for a shock- they crushed the low end with a pummeling glee like demented dwarves forging axes made of bass. It was a strange show as an event, though. Three local bands and Torche on a wednesday night? yup. And furthermore , it was an odd mix of a power metal and retro-thrash metal type of band playing, and did I mention no one was the traditional "Metal God" long hair Thor lookin' type of dude. Very odd...
So, then, tomorrow, I've got the Finnish Bazaar.   That's always a different experience. A Fully Scandinavian bake sale. Then, I see Anthony Bourdain . So, yes, I really am the mutant that I say I am- because name me one other person who will have done all three events by the end of the week. You can't. There were less than 100 of us at Torche, and of the 10,000 folks who will go to Finnspark, I bet none were amoung those 100. Even if there was one, besides me, they wouldn't also be going to see a TV travel guy.  So, there you go. As has been often declared- we are what we do, not what we say.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Too Popular

So, I've got a few things to write about, at long last. Hope you weren't waiting around.
So, I've been listening to the Deftones' Koi No Yokan ( which I'm led to believe translates as "Love at First Sight") and I think it's the best thing they've done since "White Pony" . I don't fully understand why Deftones don't get their due- they pretty much have invented their own sound, which is this mix of Goth, metal, hip hop, and shoegazer elements that seems like a much more harrowing version of what The Walker Brothers were doing. You've got the same billowing clouds of sound, with strangely dispassionate vocals, crooned in a way to emphasize the strain in the voice, and oblique lyrics about minute events. So, why aren't they critics' darlings?
So, this one is less rythmic, more reflective- like the self titled LP a few years ago, but with an emphasis on melody that was absent on that record. The lush atmospherics are there, like on a Neurosis or Mogwai LP, but more dynamic than that might suggest. Overall, it's the most brutal post metal you'll hear, the most "indie rock" that metal gets, and the least "pop" melody gets. So, again, I question why folks aren't all over this... The only explanation I can give is the taint of "nu metal" that they carry- and the reason why that is a taint is that it got too popular with the wrong people- as bad as that sounds, it's a very real complaint- who wants to brave an audience filled with meat heads, even if the songs are great?
That's the reason why you won't catch me going to Crafty Bastards, again, after this past weekend. Last years was not an anomoly . The hordes of MTV influenced hipsters  have taken over and crushed the life out of it, to the point that I feel bad for suggesting that people go to it. It was horrible. Parking was inadequate, to the point that I got into a "fender bender" accident- and I've not been in an accident in over 20 years! I was around so many humans that it aggravated my cold into a bad case of the flu- again, something that hasn't happened in years. Food and drink was impossible- hour long lines , limited selection, shortages. Add that it was taking place in a parking lot in an industrial wasteland part of town, and it felt like going to a third world market, that had been invaded by impossibly hip yuppies from San Francisco.
It took away my one solid reason for going- to see and talk with some of my favorite crafty people. There was no talking in a crowd 50,000+ , only yelling and people shoving. So, my wife and I bought some stuff from Jon Wye, Tina Seamonster, Berkley Illustration  and Alternate Histories and got the hell out, to go kill time at a less crowded shopping Mall ( yes, the freakin' Mall was preferable)  until we met up with an out-of-town friend for a late dinner.
So, yes, there is more to hating when things get too popular with the wrong crowd than simple hipster elitism.
As I've been typing, MTV 2 has been playing indie rock- of the  Two Door Cinema Club Grizzly Bear, Circa Survive and Silversun Pickups variety. That might be because it's not yet 0700 AM, but it still means that the mainstream is coming for them, so forget the kind of venues that suit their kind of intimate rock. Likewise, I have to forget about seeing my friends at Crafty Bastards, and the critics will never give Deftones their due.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I was going to write a post...

But Bruce LaBruce, of all people, said it first, and better. Boing Boing, for all their "White Hat" reputation, are clearly floundering on this topic, while Vice are, for all that they have contributed to the problem, at least striving to do better. Here's the one thing I can still add- I'm not smart  nor am I savvy enough to fully understand, but it seems to me that with the internet, as with real life, it isn't as simple as white hat/black hat. Sometimes, the sarcastic trolls at Vice are right and good, and sometimes the people's advocates at Slate are wrong, and cynical. Sometimes, Anonymous are destructive, and sometimes constructive, and sometimes the harder you try to be constructive, the more destructive you become. The internet is just a network of people. Technology is just another way of saying tools. People are a force, people are good and bad, and people progress and regress- don't get it twisted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How much longer?

Ya wanna know why I'm not real excited by a lot of the upcoming releases? Watch this. Break down what Trent is saying, and it becomes this: he wants to be a big rock STAR again. Whether you're talking about Trent Reznor, or Amanda Palmer, I'm seeing that thing emerge again. I hate it. It's a disease, and I know this as much as I know that cars need fuel, cats hate bananas, and my wife loves me. I hate it so much that I hated the whole "kill rock stars" thing because it made my hatred  "cutesy". No, I'm rabid on this topic, so all caps like an internet crazy troll: THE DESIRE FOR FAME IS A DISEASE LIKE AN ADDICTION. You can play with fire a bit- just like you can have a few drinks or tokes, and you'll probably be ok, but only stupid bastards go all in. Part of how I came to this is Trent Reznor, himself. A quick story- it's 1991. The first big American "Alternative" Festival. It really won't take much for you to guess. Of the several bands playing that day, I like the music of most, but hate the band members of most as well. I'd done sound for most of them for club dates, and I hadn't fully formed my philosophy, yet. But I knew that there was a difference between them and the other, equally well-selling bands. None more different than Nine Inch Nails.  They brought their own sound crew, and, well, have you seen Spinal Tap? Where the lead singer brings in his girlfriend to manage the band? Same thing, only Trent brought in his own sound crew. These jackasses had no background, and no business doing professional sound. Fletch and I both tried to warn them that they were wiring everything wrong, but Trent, himself, shooed us away. We were trying to literally save his life, and Fletch did, a little while later. Because during the set opener, with the dry ice pumping, and the moist stage literally crackling with shorting wires, Trent goes in for his big dramatic rock star move on the keyboard, which could just as well have been a prop because everything was loops and sequences, and you could see the arc of electricity at least 30 metres away. If we didn't cut the power right then and there, that would've been the end of Trent right there. Should he have been grateful? I'll let you decide, but He, his sound crew, and some other jackass are immediately pissed off that we cut the power, even though trent had just been sent into the drum riser, so powerful was the jolt. Eventually, we relented, and they played about another song and a half before the mains started popping out. The promoter went on stage, ended their set with an angry tirade about how NIN were not going to be paid, or were kicked off the Tour, or whatever.
But, in that story, you have the perfect metaphor for the kind of fame addiction that Trent, and others have- even when it's clearly demonstrated that what they want will kill them, they still want it, and they want it in precisely the way they envisioned it, and will fight to get it. The only other thing I've seen like that is hardcore drug addiction. Add to that things like the Butthole Surfers and their 15 grand guarantee , or Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro literally trying to kill each other for the spotlight mid-gig and, in retrospect, I don't see how i could have missed it, but that really was a turning point- that desire to see your section at the record store, the desire to recruit fans like you're building brand loyalty to a kind of tissue paper, to have your gig advertised to the exclusion of other bands? Yeah, that is precisely the symptoms of a disease that I want to see gone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Classics from an Alternative Universe

The break up of USOT kinda bums me out. Sure, there are new projects, and if the band is untenable, it's better for them to pursue their best course, but I really did want to see them live, just once. So, I listened to my favorite record of theirs, this week: When the Revolution Comes, Everything will be Beautiful . I still think they didn't get their due for that record.
So, that, in combination with some posts on facebook by some friends got me thinking about some other great records that I liked, but few others, or at least too few others, noticed. So, I've been listening to them, too.
First, Arcwelder's Entropy. Amazing band that sounded like Shellac meets Archers of Loaf with Bob Mould singing They Might Be Giants songs. Yes, post-hardcore, indie rock, but something a bit more than the sum of the parts. They distilled a certain post punk awareness of certain midwestern hardcore types: the whole Reflex/Ruthless/Touch And Go/Homestead B-list type thing- as in the kind of band that would have been written about in Your Flesh magazine, but forgotten soon thereafter. While I might be an all-day sucker for that whole thing, certain of these deserved A list status, and Steve Albini including Arcwelder in his ATP line up says that I have this one right. (BTW, If I had a spare 3 large, I'd go. Jeebus, lookit that line up!)
So, Arcwelder playing ATP got me thinking about my big regret this year- not seeing the Quicksand reunion. Sure, I like Gorilla Biscuits and Rival Schools and so on, but Slip by Quicksand, that's a stone classic, and I genuinely pity you if you don't think so, as well. It's the punky reggae party of the Clash and the Ruts brought headlong into the post-hardcore 1990's, with Killing Joke and Helmet styled metal-isms thrown in to shine it up. Furthermore, I dare you to be excited by the second half of Fugazi's discography after hearing Slip. Quicksand dominated that sound so thoroughly that I really don't know why anyone took up that sound until The Refused came along. 
That leads me to The Rise. I've mentioned them before but I talked more about their second LP. The first one,  Signal to Noise is amazing as well. Yes, it clearly owes a debt to The Refused, but it carries that torch a bit further into electronic music territory than the Refused did. And, well, The Refused did break up, and the members did other, very worthwhile projects, but they weren't exploring that post hardcore meets Techno meets Jazz meets folk sound. The Rise kept most of that, though they lowered the folk elements, and really brought up the Techno, making it a different thing from The Refused. That the Metalcore folks bought in was surprising, and I think if people were a bit more candid, they'd probably admit that Signal to Noise was the gateway that brought them to The Refused- meaning that the influence The Refused had on The Rise paid back dividends in the proper way, much like Metallica championing the Misfits properly brought focus onto Glenn Danzig and company. On top of that, much like The Refused, The Rise were made up of very creative individuals, involved in everything from great rock bands- Aeges, Juliette and The licks,  and ...And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead, to magazines and design- Law of Inertia magazine, multiple albums and of course, production and engineering. So, much like USOT, the fact that there will be no more records by The Rise is a bummer, but not a catastrophe, and there's some classic documentation left behind.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Specs, the ongoing optical odd-I-see

So, yes, I've been spending money on Specs. Apart from my generic specs that I bought on my insurance policy, I've purchased 3 pairs of specs this year, so far, and I got one pair for free. Remember this post? Well, yes, I got the Parkers at Lookmatic, , and I bought a pair of the Tippis for my wife.  I also won a pair of the Uncleonards ( they have many contests, just scour the net) and now, I've got a pair of the Hoppers  from Mezzmer.
Here's what I've learned- Lookmatic is definitely going for the Women's Sunglasses market. They getting designers involved, they are getting celebrities to wear them, and  they're advertising them heavily.Still, they put out a lot of very high quality specs and while they are not the cheapest, I'd say they have some great deals because the quality level is very high. Mezzmer produces some very high quality specs as well, and they have excellent customer service. If there were no Lookmatic, I'd probably shop at Mezzmer an awful lot. Truthfully though, Lookmatic has insanely high levels of customer service- they'll even answer random questions I email them at 1130 at night- within a half hour! In comparison, Mezzmer takes between 12 and 24 hours. However, they will ship up to 5 pairs of glasses for you to try on for a dollar, and they pay shipping. Like I said- excellent, excellent customer service. Lookmatic practically become family members, and I actually know at least two of them on a first name basis- but Mezzmer still kicks most brick and mortars to the curb. I won't name the names of other places I've tried, but I'll just say that some of the more "hip" options have fairly lousy customer service, so I'd still give Mezzmer a very strong recommendation- and I don't want to give the impression that I think you should choose Lookmatic over Mezzmer, because they're just as good, I just like Lookmatic more.
There are other considerations, of course- I'd say the quality is top notch for both. The Lookmatics have a slightly higher quality frame, while I have to admit the Mezzmer lenses are higher quality than even the Lookmatics . Still both are very high quality- easily better than most brick-and-mortar options. If either one gets into the business of making progressive bifocals, I'll take the insurance hit, and never buy from a brick and mortar, again.
Then, there's style. I, personally, think they both put out some very stylish frames, but I'm a big fan of "retro" designs ( I think Men's fashion peaked in 1963) but with modern twists- and that's exactly what both of them specialize in doing. Very "Mad Men" styles- and if that's not your thing, you may not find them as stylish as I do. Still- I think that kind of style seems to be fairly universal, so I expect I'm not alone.
Finally, there are some ethics involved- while none of these keep up with certain companies' charitable giving, or ecologically sound business practices, both are more green than 90% of  the other options out there- and Mezzmer has a 6% charitable giving policy- which is still nicer than going to Walmart, right?
Overall, I'd call my online spec purchases a success- and, if I have my way, I will continue to purchase a few more- and if you think me a gluttonous consumer, I'd like to point out- I cannot wear contact lenses, and if I'd just gone with the brick and mortar my insurance favors, I would have bought two pair- glasses and sunglasses, and would have spent roughly 1/5th more than what I've spent, in total. So, if I buy two more pair, at the prices I'm paying, I'd be at the same place as if I'd bought two higher end pairs at a brick and mortar- in other words, had I been able to buy all my glasses at these two places, I could buy at a rate of 3 to 1. So, I don't feel too bad about it at all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

a Programme note

Hey, I'm not certain how many posts I'll be doing for next few months. Several things: I'm not excited by a lot of what I see on the horizon. There are few things, but not a lot. Also, I'm saving my pennies for a few things- I'm not done buying glasses, I've got birthdays and holidays to buy for, and I'm hoping to purchase a few larger items ( new car, a couple of appliances, possibly a new computer or tablet computer). Also, I'm a bit involved in a few non-pop culture things that are eating my time. If that's not enough rationale for you, I'm not saying there will be no posts- just that they might be fewer, and more... creative. But, hey, who knows? I'm might get enamored with a buncha crap....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Buying Good(s)

Ideologically, I'm not exactly a big supporter of the "buy green", "buy handmade" or "buy local" thing. The way I see it, there are two words in there: and the one that's the same in both cases is "buy". I really don't think we can buy our way into anything good. I spent way too long in too many economics courses, and worked for too long as a banker and accountant to think that we can buy our way into peace, a better environment, love, or justice. However, you can buy happiness, and prosperity- but it's not the most efficient route to either one.
However, buying crap is the secret underbelly of a lot of what I do support, so I'm willing to overlook some truths in order to get to better ones. For example, I believe in supporting creators of culture- and the way we do that, in this time and place, is buying stuff.  We buy Mp3 downloads, CDs, T shirts, Bumper Stickers, Wall Art, Sculpture, Jewelry,  Books, eBooks, Movie Tickets, Concert Tickets, Restaurant Food, DVD's Licensed Streams, Blu Rays, and Hotel Rooms, and we're essentially "voting" which way culture goes. So, buying a lot of things goes part and parcel with adding my voice to those stating they want the world to be a different place. So, since I want the world to be greener, and since I like doing things myself, and since I like my friends, I do buy a lot more green options, a lot more handmade things, and I  do shop locally, as appropriate. However, I also think that I do more to create a greener world, and a more just world when I vote with a ballot, and when I work towards different laws, and when I don't buy, you know?
What all that means is that, ultimately, if you buy something, you should buy it because it is the best of whatever it is.  How did William Morris put it? If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful . So, I buy local craft beers when they are tastier, not when they are more ideologically sound. I buy  handcrafts when they are handsome, and well-made by people I know to be talented. I buy CDs when the band sounds good, and I like them and know them to be talented.. I patronise places that serve me well- in the quality of the goods, the aesthetics, and the relationship. I see bands and movies that I like, not that fit some self-created profile. I think we, as modern people, have a glut of stuff, and I think that glut does not serve us, but instead serves people we may not like. I see no need to add to that glut in service of some misguided notion that by doing so we are somehow making ourselves better- that smacks of a smug  self-satisfied rationalisation . I might rationalise, but I'm never smug, nor self-satisfied!
So, with that overly intricate preamble, I'm starting to assist in the promotion for the Crafty Bastards craft fair, in Washington DC.  Yes, I said "assist" in "promotion" for what is, essentially a marketplace. Furthermore, this year, it even carries an admission price., and will be held inside a literal market. If I said that none of that made me uncomfortable, I'd be a liar, and I truly believe that most people can tell when you're lying. So I think an explanation is in order, and part of that explanation was in my preamble. Some of the event organizers are my friends, and yes, I've bought stuff at previous Crafty Bastards. I don't want to sound like I'm being too precious with my "brand" here- but if I'm to stand for anything, more than socialism, more than aesthetics, more than I would stand for anything else, I stand for simple human relationships.  No, that's not the same as love- what I mean is that I am convinced that the "I-You" relationship is the building block of anything good in humanity. Now, of course, my friends are not the same as Crafty Bastards. It's still drenched in capitalism, and therefore still is in the "I-it" relationship, so, I'm not necessarily endorsing Crafty Bastards as a concept. But, the opportunity is there for me to experience the "I-You" relationship. Because that opportunity exists within that space, I can endorse Crafty Bastards in practice. Get it, or have I gone too high concept for you? 
What I'm saying is that buying at a craft fair is still buying things. That's a dead relationship. A simple transaction, dressed up in "Alternative" rhetoric, but ultimately just that- buying stuff, and the person at the till could just as well be an application. However, because of the scale of the venue, because it's possible to actually accept the humanity and the validity of that humanity at this venue, I can endorse that opportunity to shake off the transaction, and interact. Put this way- if I buy a T shirt at Amazon, that's all there is. I bought a T shirt from a collection of machines, literally. If I buy a T shirt from a friend, the T shirt and the transaction of buying that T shirt is secondary to the relationship with my friend. I can get behind any arena or venue that emphasizes the friendship more than the transaction. If we can spread that notion- that making and having friends is better than making and having things, that really is a way of doing good. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

United Sons of Toil- Forces of Production

I'm a big fan of USOT, but not a big fan of remixes. Truthfully, I fully respect the notion of remix culture, and I understand the cultural forces at work, but I usually just don't care for the results. Even the most expert remixes end up sounding basically like gimmicks to me. Yes, that goes for the Bloody Beetrroots re-imagining of the Refused's "New Noise" that were performed with Dennis. So, much like that, this is a kind of collaboration, as well, in that USOT put the word out "Remix us and we'll assemble it into a release", and that removes one element that I don't like about remixes- that they become a method of putting one kind of Art into another type- sort of replacing the author with another. Also, I'm not hearing another of my pet peeves about remixes- either the out-and-out insertion of a synth that was not part of the original, or manipulating the sound so far that it is the same as if a new synth like was introduced. So, there are some serious counter-arguments to calling this a "remix album". Also, another pitfall is avoided- these songs sound playable. Don't get me wrong- I can get behind fully synthetic songs, and samples ala the Beastie Boys, but ultimately I like music that sounds like humans played it- and this still sounds like humans played it. Some of the vocals, maybe not, but the music sounds like it may be difficult, and might need some augmentation, but could be played by a live band. That's a huge plus for me.
Ultimately, it reminds me of dubs, more than remixes, if that makes any sense.
So, should you get it? That's up to you, of course. I'm not trying to tell you to sell or prevent the sale of records, here- I will say that it appeals to a slightly different aesthetic than most USOT records- you know how Broadrick went all kinds of strange in the mid to late 1990's? Ice, The Sidewinder, Youpho, Krackhead, Techno Animal, Love and Hate in Dub, Us and Them? All that stuff? If you got into that, like I did, I cannot see how you will fail to enjoy this. However, if I'm speaking a foreign language to you, right now, let me explain- this isn't exactly dance remixes. This more like ambient music- you crank it up, and you live with it around you. It makes for a great soundtrack to whatever it is that you're doing at the time. Me? I say you plot a revolution with this as the backdrop, but your results may vary on that.

Joe 4 Njegov Sin

It's been a few months, and a partial change of language for Joe 4. On their last EP, the gutteral grunts and hoarse exhortations were nominally in English, now it appears they're doing the same in their native tongue. That's a good thing. Seriously. I don't speak a lick of Croatian, so I couldn't even tell you if that's what the language is, but you can tell when someone is expressing themselves in a language they understand or not. Nothing is more unintentionally funny, nor more maddening than the horrible turns of phrase when the author isn't using the language their heart speaks- like teenage poetry, it might make sense to the author, but it ends there. Meanwhile, I can read the intent here- these are exhortations, grunts, and yelps- the impression is of alienation and passion in equal degrees.
So, how's the music? Remember how I said they were driving a beat into the ground, last time? They still go in for repetition, and drone, and heavy beats, but there's a lot more dynamics, now. The effect is not unlike an organic version of Big Black, or any other expression of Steve Albini's singular muse in that direction-The songs pound and pummel, while the guitars seek to play a counter to the machinery of the bass and drums- not a counter melody, necessarily ( though there are some pretty bits, like the first minute of "Houlihan") but a counter nonetheless. Yes, Albini recorded this, and Weston mastered it, like in the days of yore, but it doesn't entirely have the characteristic Albini dryness- there's a little bit more old school reverb and compression- you know who it sounds like recording-wise? Iain Burgess. That might not seem like much to you, but for old Chicago Hardcore veterans like me, that name carries serious weight. This seriously could be an early to mid 1980's Chicago or Minneapolis post-punk record- and here's where I get obscure, but bear with me- I could see them on a bill with Rifle Sport, Breaking Circus, and Big Black. Now, getting less obscure- they sound like the beta version of what became the AmRep sound. I know people will simply hear this as a variation of that fabled AmRep/Touch and Go/ "Pigfuck" sound, but quite frankly, it's the sound that came before that. 
So, here's my statement- they've improved greatly, and they were good before. If this were the golden days of Indie recording, I'd say somebody sign them, right now. However, as we're now in the digital era, I'm saying hie thee unto Bandcamp, get this, and start demanding your local greasy dive book them ASAP. Yes, now.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Raveonettes "Observator"

On the other hand, it's real easy to talk about The Raveonettes latest- it's crap. They took their basic sound which was a semi-goth take on early 60's pop-rock, and presented it as something new. Now, they've dialed back the most challenging element they had- the wall of echo, distortion, and other ways of obscuring the tunes to reveal a slightly more retro Goth pop. Which is to say, crap.
So, rather than talk about them anymore, I'll briefly mention that Amanda Palmer sucks, and I don't care how much she made on kickstarter. I hated the Dresden dolls, I still hate her music. I never gave a thought if that related to who she was as human being, but now that it's been revealed that she's little better than the mobsters who used to run the music biz, I can say, it all makes sense- her music sucks because she sucks as a person. All very clear, now. I'm with Albini. Oh, and the smear pieces that came out on him afterwards? Cowardly dick moves if you ask me. Seriously, if you're trying to hold Steve Albini up to some kind of PC measuring stick, you're a dipshit, and not worth hearing out. Stay behind your camera, lickspittle.

Jon Spencer's Meat and Bone

Gaaah! It's next to impossible to give you a fair talk about the new Jon Spencer Blues Explosion LP "Meat and Bone". Y'see, had it come out a year after "Damage", or better yet, had come out instead of "Damage", it'd be a one sentence explanation- Jon Spencer continues to perfect the art of deconstruction on Blues Boogie with the scuzz factor set high. But, really, it's been a decade since they were really trying to mine this field, and in that decade, we've seen at least two bands exploit that same sound, to much greater commercial effect, and JSBX itself, exploited commercially moreso than as a real, working band. So, it leaves a taste of cashing in, or returning to the well- it brings in business considerations, and that removes me, as a listener, at least one step- I'm thinking about "Why" too much to fully appreciate "How", if you follow me.
That's not to say that I don't enjoy it, because I do enjoy it, but I keep on going back to things that aren't part of the music, itself. I'll hear a great riff (Like on "Bag of Bones") and I'll think something along the lines of "There's Jon Spencer come back to claim what's his from the imposters" and it's no longer the same as just hearing a great riff, you see? Or, I'll hear that truly great chorus on the end of "Black Mold" and I'll wonder if he held it off so it'd sync with the schlock-horror music video, which is also great, but I realize that they have to do tricks like that to compete with their newer, more commercially viable lessers. Then, it's a much more cynical thing.
But, I don't feel bad about the way I hear it, Billy Corgan be damned, because Jon Spencer played this game first- he's the one who took a post-modern, "deconstructionist" eye to genuine scuzz boogie blues. He's the one who dressed up the same kind of cool-guy-exploiting-outsider-art that's been happening forever in a kind of semiotic reference list. So, it's fair to look at what he does from a distance, and judge it based upon his position as a has-been. Yes, I said it, and no, it's not fair- I told you it's next to impossible to talk fairly about this record- and that's why- the whole thing is predicated on the false assumption that Jon is now an outsider himself, simply because he hasn't been releasing CDs or touring as much. But there you have it- the most honest thing I can say about it is that while I like the music, the games are getting in the way.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I kinda hate myself for this....

I'm a pretty big obsessive over a few Australian bands from the early 1980's. See, I spent most of 1982 through 1985 living in places where American pop culture had less of a toehold than British, European and Australian pop culture did, and quite frankly, if you had to choose between Saxon and Rose Tattoo, or more starkly, between Dire Straits and the Angels, I sincerely hope you'd have chosen as I did, and gone almost entirely for the Australian side. This has led to some strange choices at times, but most of the time, if it comes from the Australian Pub/Punk/Rock/Metal type of music, it's right up my alley. In that vein, I cannot think of a single LP I like better than the Angels 1978 LP, "Face to Face". From "Straight Jacket" to "Comin Down" it's a damn near perfect LP. "The Angels", "No Exit", "Dark Room", "Night Attack", and "Two Minute Warning" were all varying shades of excellent, as well.
So, musically, I really want to like anything released as "The Angels". I heard about the falling out between Doc Neeson and the Brewsters, and while both sides have their points, I side a bit more with Doc. The kind of show he put on, I believe him when he says his body is broken, and he needed chemical help to ease the pain. At the same time, it wouldn't be the Angels without the melodies, and I'm sure Doc is a nutter, and I'm sure he's difficult to be around. So, I'm not entirely without sympathy for the Brewster side of the equation.
So, I shelled out large sums for the new LP ( in USD I paid $40.00) and I've listened to the whole thing a few times and, as much as it kills me to say it- the record blows. It's bad. It fails to entertain me.  I don't like it. It really hurts to say. I realize I should've known, but I honestly had hope. Dave Gleeson sings in a far more traditional rock voice, yes, but I don't want to put too much of it on that. The real problem is the whole band sounds tired, perfunctory, and like they are simply trying to cash in a cheque. They do fair number of covers, and bring little to the table on those. The re-do a track or two from their glory days and it's glaringly obvious that the spark is gone.
While I feel like I wasted my cash, that's not the worst part. The worst is this- you can literally hear the band digging their heels in. There will be no reunion any time soon. They won't be going back to what they excelled at, any time soon. That's utterly depressing because as far as I can tell Doc doesn't have all that long. The man really does seem to be broken in ways that will be hard to repair, and by the time he is repaired, there's very little chance of him being able to forget the bitterness enough to be a convincing performer- in other words the Angels that I loved are gone, and I really wish that I could love these new Angels, but I just don't.
I don't like putting negative reviews and notices on this blog, because life can suck enough without adding to it. However, I really do feel it's my duty to put this out there, so I can save other people from hearing this, and ruining the band for them. Yes, I know that may seem like a nasty thing to say, but I swear it's the truth. Avoid this, if you can.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lookmatic part Deux

So, I've now got three pairs of glasses from Lookmatic. I bought a pair of prescription shades, and they turned out ace. I bought my wife a pair on non-prescription shades, and she likes them, and they seem pretty ace. Now, I've won a contest, and got a free pair of Specs from them- they're pretty ace, as well. I wasn't sure about getting prescription glasses from them, as shades can be more forgiving if they got a focal point slightly off, or if there's a flaw in the lens. Well, yes, the lenses are not as crystal clear as I might have liked, but it's still as good, if not better than going down my local Optical shop. They're excellent for driving, or light computer work. I think I'd suffer a little visual fatigue if I wore them to read a lot of fine print, but keep in mind that I've got a very tough prescription, and should be wearing bifocals- well, I'm right on the cusp of needing bifocals all the time, so a bit of that's to be expected. Also, bear in mind the customer service is insanely good- I've had questions in the late evening that were answered by email in less than an hour. Think about that! Imagine a brick and mortar store that can have you your specs in less than a fortnight, no matter your prescription, sell extremely high fashion specs for under US 200, and can answer questions at almost any time you'd ask. That's pretty swell, eh? Then, add this to the whole thing- the people are actually really nice. as in, I think I'd like to be friends with them, even if money weren't involved. Consider them recommended. I'm hoping they expand to world wide, very soon. Not that you'd get the same as me, but I first got the Parkers in tortoise, then the Tippis in black and purple for my wife, and now I've got the Uncleonards. Next, I think I'm going to get the Kingsfords in silver....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saw Bob Mould!

And I got the T shirt! Can't say I got to talk to Bob as he was going to do a Blowoff set  pretty much immediately after the show, and my wife and I couldn't go for that, but it was otherwise exactly what you'd want from St Bob. He ran through all of Copper Blue, in order, then, did a full set of songs from the new album, and a bunch of Husker songs as well- considering the last time I saw Husker Du they did less than 10 songs, and tonight Bob did 5, I'd say it was like a double set- all of Copper Blue, with another 14 songs on top. Bob was in a great mood- better than I've ever seen him. His voice was a little hoarse, but he played the shit out of his guitar. I'm sure there will be Youtube clips to document it, but what was almost as entertaining as Bob was the crowd- about 2/3 old Gen X 'ers who remembered the early 1990's a little too well, with 1/3 bears waiting for Blowoff. That was funny. Oh, and running man- you're a hero. Gorilla boy? You suck. Nope, I'm not explaining. For some things you just have to be there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bob Mould "Silver Age"

it goes without saying that I can't really review this-I'm too much of a fan, too many others have said what needs to be said, and so on and so forth. So, again, like the rest of this blog, it's just me talking about it.
 That having said, I do want to correct a few things that have been said about this excellent CD.  No, it doesn't sound like Sugar. It's loud rock, written by Bob Mould, but so what? That puts it in league with Sugar, Husker Du, and about a third of his solo records. Furthermore, it's not just a nostalgia trip. These songs could not have been written by a thirty year old man, and they reflect forwards just as well as backwards- for every reference to the power pop of Sugar, there's another reference to proto punk like Johnny Thunders, Radio Birdman, or The Stooges. For every reference to Husker Du Popcore, there's a reference to Pavement styled slacker indie, Superchunk styled velocity pop, and yes, Foo Fighters and QOTSA styled stoner Pop. Basically, whaddya expect? He's in his fifties, and he's written Pop rock since he was twenty. There's a plethora of notions from a vast array of sources, but the foundation is the same as it ever was- late 1960's pop cased in late 1970's post-punk. So, it's not a throwback, it's simply a writer being himself. Besides which, try to count how many of these tropes the man invented! There is no Pixies without Bob Mould, there is no Nirvana, there is no "Alternative Rock" without him. There is no psychedelic punk-at least not in any of the forms we know, so that, alone wipes out about a third of critics' darlings from the past five years, meaning, there is no Pitchfork, either. With all that on your shoulders, you'd do introspective confessional folk rock for 8 years, too. So, this isn't even a matter of a "return to form"- as I see it, it's simply a guy getting comfortable with himself.
So much for the prelude, then- how's the record?
In a nutshell, it's every bit as good as you've heard. 
This is a rock record. Specifically, it's a rock record structured equally around riffs and melody. So, no, it's not Metal, and, it's not as tightly formatted as Punk Rock. You can call it Alternative, but at this point, that's nearly meaningless. Would you like it? It's not hardcore, exactly, but it's not mellow, either- the gut check reference would be somewhere between Foo Fighters, Torche, and Weezer- but that somehow just doesn't cut it.
Song By song, it ventures from the brittle grind of Star Machine, to the churn and clang of Silver Age to the relaxed hum of First Time Joy. There's not a bad track on here, if you ask me, but again, I'm such a superfan that quite literally, some of my guitar tone is directly from Bob. That's not metaphoric- I have a stompbox that once belonged to him. So, no, I cannot be objective. Still, if I were to try to sell the record to you, I'd suggest starting with "The Descent" then go to "Briefest Moment" and follow that up with "Star Machine". That really should do the trick. I bet you'd buy it after that.
But, putting aside how much a fan I am, this really is a great rock record. I would easily say it's one of Bob's best. Perhaps it's not as lyrically deep as Bob can get, but didn't some dead British guy say something about brevity being the soul of wit? I think it's confessional enough that you should be able to relate to it at least on some points, but it's more about the tunes, and the power than it is about pondering. You can stream it, and you can buy it. What more can I say? Oh, yeah, this- if you've liked anything I've suggested on this blog- you've liked something that relates in some small way to Bob Mould. So, I bet you already have this. Good choice, then.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bob Mould Silver Age

I don't have a review yet, but that's purely due to life events- holiday weekend, and my wife's birthday. However, I will say it's awesome, and not just because it's St Bob. This is the best release I've heard this year, and Bob's best in a decade. Buy it, buy it now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Made in America

So, I watched some of the "Made in America" live stream from Philadelphia. Ummm, well...
For the most part, the best use was to have the EDM tent streaming as a kind of radio in the background as I did other stuff.
I had a bad feeling about it- Budweiser is bad corporate beer, Jay Z is bad corporate "rap"- not even Hip Hop, and pearl Jam are just bad. But, hey, it's free, so why not?
Well, unlike Coachella, the sound was spotty at best- serious glitches where the sound would cut out from one channel or another for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The video was often reduced to a pixellated blur.
But what should that matter if the music made by the Artists was worthwhile, right? Well, the only two that really did bring their game were Santigold and the Hives. Santigold I've not been really a fan, but she converted me by dint of sheer dancehall and dub inflected good vibes, while the Hives did their usual, albeit abbreviated live demolition. Seriously, they are probably the best rock and roll show going. Maybe the Refused, but really the Hives will put you in a better mood.
As for the rest- I really didn't care, except X who well, it sucks to say, but they just failed. I hate saying that because they used to be a favorite, and I still love their records, and I totally understand how we all get old and break down, but John just seemed tired, Billy Zoom seemed cynical, Exene was haggard and ill, and DJ was stately- which is great for a bass player, but he's the drummer. They weren't ready to convince the indifferent crowd. I hope it was just an off night, but jeez, it was bad...

Birthday Party

So, it's my wife's birthday, and I got her some stuff that I thought you might be interested in hearing about.
First, I cannot say enough good things about Lookmatic. The customer service alone would be good enough reason to shop there. But they also have some great styles. My wife had Lasik surgery a few years back so she doesn't need glasses, but really good sunglasses are always welcome, so I think she likes her new Tippis.  Also, she's become addicted to her Kindle. I'm ok with that. She's been a Boxing, Wrestling, and Racing widow for me from time to time so I owe her. But, I got her a couple of books for her Kindle- It will Be Exhilarating and Something Like Normal. The Exhilarating book is because she runs a small business and is looking to expand to the web, and the Normal book is teen fiction (something my wife likes) written by a friend of mine. Also, I got her some gift cards so she could choose her own books and music, and I got her some of the Corporate Portraits at Shanalogic. Good hipster Art, you know?
I took her to dinner, of course, her choice, and her choice was excellent, as per usual- Bryan Voltaggio's Family Meal restaurant. I thought the fried chicken was excellent. She really liked the Fried green tomatoes, and the poutine.
I think I might take her to the movies, but that hasn't happened yet, and that's up to her. I know that we're going on a photo safari, today, and I better get ready to go do that, so just a peak for you, today.

The Wait.

Yes, things have pretty much ground to a halt here at HMLMWTMC, inc. Four reasons for that, not all of them negative. I'm waiting until I can talk freely, it's my wife's birthday, so I'm doing stuff for her, I'm pretty broke ( between money already spent on bills, car repairs, getting my son set up for his next college semester, buying crap for birthdays, and other major events, and money dedicated for upcoming events...) and  I'm pretty happy with a bunch of stuff I've already talked about ( Musically, I'm listening to the CD not yet named, Baroness, the Workers "Both Hands" and The Hives "Lex Hives", haven't gone to the movies, but did watch a lot of TV- True Blood, The Newsroom, Burn Notice, Suits and a tonne of movies on IFC and Indieplex, and I'll soon talk about the rest).
Anyway, programming should soon pick up....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nothing to report

I'm still listening to the same stuff as last week, but a few things to note:
1. I got tickets to see Bob Mould. My wife isn't as "into it" as I'm into it, but I'm hoping she'll enjoy it. I feel lucky  that he's scheduled to play both Copper Blue and Silver age stuff. That's September 8.
2. I'm becoming a big fan of Lookmatic. I'm starting to feel like I might be on their payroll, but no, they're just really good. They had a facebook contest, and I was already a fan, so, hey Presto, I've got some new specs. On top of that I bought a new pair of shades for my wife from them. So, now, if they ever put out some metal frames, I think I'm sold for life. Then, again, I'm pretty simple that way. I find things I like and then stick with them.
3. I don't know if I'd count it as cultural, but I've switched from AT&T to Virgin Mobile. I'm not like most, though. I know that. Most folks seem to use their phones as all forms of communication- from talk to text to photos, to social media. What could be more the basis of culture than that? So I guess it's worth noting. Really though, I'm more of a laptop guy. I like longer-form communication. Stuff that can get a bit more complex like Email, Skype and blogs, you know?  I mean, sure, I've got a facebook profile, and a twitter account, but I refuse to become part of that 128 character culture. I think it's making people dangerously stupid. So, now, instead of making three calls a day and four texts on an AT&T phone, I'm doing it on a Virgin Mobile. Big deal. But, for anyone who might care, there it is.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Convergence

Prong. Randy Blythe. Covering the Misfits. Yes, yes and Yes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old TV Shows

I'm not sure why, but I'm thinking about four great old TV shows, tonight.
First, The Young Ones. For many, I think that was the first taste of "alternative" (read "real" comedy) . It was also the best collection of the insurgent, anarchic "Punk Rock" comedy scene, most notably Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle. Really, you should check out anything with either of their names involved- and yes, that includes the nearly horrible mainstream American movie "Drop Dead Fred'.
Next, Northern Exposure. Eccentric American ensemble comedy. Very influential, somewhat twee, but so very nice. More quality than American TV can handle with great scenery, witty dialogue and literate references. If only grunge had all this, it would have been the perfect musical idiom. I kid, but seriously awesome show.
Next, before he became a tool of the man, Ben Stiller was a freakin genius. His Ben Stiller show had everyone worth a damn in American comedy- Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garrafalo, Andy Dick, and David Cross- not to mention Ben Stiller, himself. Plus, look at the writing credits- apart from that fearsome list above, you also had Judd Apatow, and Brent Forrester. Pure quality, right there.
Finally, The Tick. What can I say? The non sequiturs are worth it, alone. But, then you get Bat Manuel. Superheroes  under the tutelage of Barry Sonnenfeld and Larry Charles? What's not to love? Watch an episode....

Hardcore Stalwarts Ever True

I really do view most of music and the music biz as "stuff my friends do", and that sometimes leads to odd places. Just like any circle of friends, if it gets wide enough, it includes people who vary greatly from yourself, so I end up counting people like Dave Smalley and Joey Keithley as "People I've had friendly chats with"- these are both guys that I'd gladly have drinks or dinner with, yet both would disagree with me on a number of subjects. Both are in bands, and both just released CDs- Joey's band DOA just put out "We Come In Peace", and Dave Smalley's band Down By Law put out "Champions at Heart". While I like both, musically, I prefer Dave's band, while politically, I guess I'm closer to Joey's band.
DOA, of course, pretty much invented Hardcore back in the early 1980's, but really, they're a second generation Punk band. That means they throw in basic punk, some hard rock, some reggae, a little Celtic folk, and whatever else comes up at the moment. Still, for the most part, it's roaring Sex Pistolish punk, with Clash politics, and some Clash styled white boy reggae. Good stuff, and starting off with "He's got a Gun" makes it pretty topical. But, the problem with DOA is history. They've got enough of one that it's starting to constrict them- they have to carry the Flag for the music they made 30 years ago, and the strain shows. Especially on "Walk Through this World" which has world-weary lyrics set to a tune nicked from "Bankrobber" by the Clash. It just makes Joey sound so infinitely tired that it serves as a downer, even if it wasn't meant to be. Likewise the duet with Jello "We Occupy" just sounds a bit like two stalwarts cashing in on something they may have helped to inspire, but have no real connection with, which makes them sound older than they are.
Which brings us to Dave's Down By Law. The guy was in DYS, Dag Nasty, and All. On top of that, I know the guy is smart- like multiple degrees type educated smart. So, while I know I've had personal disagreements with him, and even a serious fight with a former band of his, I respect the guy, a lot. Musically, this is top shelf California style pop Punk. Lyrically, it's a Seinfeld episode- they songs ultimately aren't really about anything- sure, they have themes, like "if the kids are united, they will never be divided", or " it sure does suck that sugar has calories" which is about how Pop Punk usually ends up, so I'm not mad that Dave's not using that massive brain to write a song that fully explains the Israeli position on Syria or some such, but still, it does become a drag- he's got 9 minutes of a 45 minute record about the topic of "Unity", explicitly, and said pretty plainly. Still, for sing-a-long boisterous Warped Tour Punk, you won't find better. They guy was in All, after all. Pop Punk is his forte. It is a wonder that this style still connects with so many kids, but I'm grateful that it does because it means that a whole host of stuff that I like gets dragged along, too.
So, bottom line, I think it's good that there's still a place for Stalwarts like Joey and Dave, and I just wanted to support that....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Very 'Eavy, very 'Umble

A running sub-theme with this here blog is my ongoing wrestling match with Heavy Metal. Like it or not, and I don't, I seem to have an  unmet need to spar with my sometimes metallic tastes.
So, the latest entries on that front are "A Brief Crack of Light" by Therapy? and "Four" by Bloc Party.
Part of the lasting appeal of heavy metal is just how humble it is. I read some punter in some magazine who wrote that metal was music for ugly people, and as inarticulate as that is, I think it's pointed at the truth. Metal is for the unsophisticated bordering on boorish, the  awkward bordering on Aspergered, the anti-fashioned, and proletarian. In short, it's not for beautiful people, or graceful people, though the music sometimes aspires towards beauty and grace. Too much flash, too much grace, too much style, and it's roundly disdained by the metal masses, though. I think that's the area that's subtle in metal, but that gets all too easily hidden by the garish extremes.
So, Therapy? have a bit too much Art in them to be fully considered metal, but they share that kind of club-footed artless lack of grace with metal, so they belong more to metal than metal will own them. What they are, when they are at their best, is a kind of Midwestern late 1980's posthardcore meets early 1990's "altmetal"- like Big Black meets Filter. That also means that they're very hit-or-miss with me. The last tracks I liked by them were a few on 1994's "Troublegum" album. The last time I liked a whole album by them would be 1992's "Nurse". That's twenty years since they put out something that I could heartily endorse. So, the short-and-sweet of it is I do heartily endorse this new CD.
Lyrically, they're still clumsy, but musically, it's tight, aggressive , adventurous, and, yes, pretty music. It covers the ground between Helmet at their most "nu metal" and (believe it or not) Fugazi which isn't a bad sweet spot to occupy. They've toned down some of the squeal to concentrate on the thud, which is unfortunate, but par for the course. I resisted it for all this time for the same reason I suspect it won't be a huge successful chart smash, nor a cult fetish item- it undercuts itself constantly. That is- it's too pretty to be the big bad evil ugly rock that they'd like to be- a kind of Celtic Slipknot. But, it's not filled with beauty and grace like Baroness, either. So, again, it's much like any metal- this is music for the awkward, the clumsy, and the disorientated  and  the colloquial. That's precisely what I find so charming about it.
On the reverse, such homeliness can lend a kind of "authenticity" to an established, but stale Artist. If you look closely, it's an old David Bowie trick- after Space Oddity, the Man Who Sold the World, after Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, after Never Let me Down, Tin Machine- get the idea? So, Bloc Party did a run of artsy yet commercial dance-rock albums from the mid 2000's to 2010, then just fell apart. Now, supposedly all patched up, they've got to sell everyone on the concept that they're back, they're whole, they're vital, and they're authentically a band. So, the new record has everything from the glitch-pop single "Octopus" and numerous bits of supposedly "raw" studio field recordings of the band talking to hiring Alex Newport to  produce, and the metal stylings that are most overt on "Kettling" and "We are not good people" but are present throughout. Cynical as that may be, the only question I'm concerned with, as a listener, is "Does it work?"- the answer is a reserved yes. Yes, I like this better than anything they've done as a band since "Silent Alarm", however, I still think Silent Alarm is the best they'll ever do. I think that Kele's solo work is still more vital, and yes, authentic than this, even if my aesthetics are more closely aligned to Four. But, Silent Alarm is still the Bloc Party album to beat, and a lot of that is due to impossibilities of getting certain Genii back into their bottles. They simply cannot be as urgent, hungry, or vital as they were, as they have had the success they were seeking. Kele cannot be just a humble band member, or just another bloke, as he has revealed himself to be a star in his own right. Yes, the rest of the band clearly do resent that, and no amount of volume or chatter between tracks can approximate the kind of easy camaraderie that being a real, young, authentic band brings. At this point, they best they can hope for is enough short- term failure to make them seem like the kind of underdogs that Metal is composed from. Still, this is a good record, and I enjoy hearing it, but if I want to sell you on Bloc Party, I'll still put on Silent Alarm.
( oh, and BTW, I'm dropping a certain pretense, here- yes I paid for both records, legally. Yes, the Therapy? record was released awhile back, while the Bloc Party one is scheduled to be released in two days. Just because I've bought something at Amazon on pre order, or haven't bought until after it is released has little bearing on when I hear it first. Between scouring the net, and promos, and friends, I hear stuff weeks and months either before or after it gets released.  So, I'm stopping right now from trying to review when stuff gets commercially released- with a few notable exceptions. If someone asks me to hold off, or if it seems prudent for me to do so, I will, or if someone asks me to do a "review" as a promotional device, I'll at least consider it. This blog is far from professional grade, but I still view the entertainment industry as one populated by my friends. I hope that clarifies things a bit)

Friday, August 17, 2012

FPR

Hey, normally, I'm all for self-determination, and I'm not real big on telling some culture to adopt my values, but this whole thing in Russia seems a no- brainer to me. I'm not going to be satisfied if they Free Pussy Riot,  I want to see Putin out. Not just out of politics. I want him exiled to some sweaty island where he can pick fruit for a living. I want that murderous bastard disgraced, tried for treason and high crimes, and then shunted away from any kind of power whatsoever. Here's the thing- if everyone saying 'Free Pussy Riot" were to change that to: Fire Putin, Russia- it could actually happen. I know, it's hard to get people to commit. I know most people would prefer to try to support the brave and good than actually be brave and good, and fight the scary monsters and supervillians, but this just seems obvious- more than Qaddafi, more than Mubarak, more than al- Assad, by far the most destructive dictator going is Putin, and I don't think the world is safe until or unless he is brought to justice.

Sworn to secrecy

Sometimes, I love being me.I cannot say much, but one of my favorite musical artists  is soon to release a new CD,and I got an advance copy. I wasn't supposed to, but someone involved trusted me, and gave me a copy. I'm not going to betray that trust by saying too much, but I have to say it's the best I've heard from , ahem, this Artist, in  seven years, minimum. Depending upon how you count it, it could be the best in over a decade, and close to two decades. When you hear it, if you're around my age and tastes, it will bring back memories of when you were much, much younger, but will acknowledge all those years between. If it's not on critics' top 10 lists by the end of the year, do not trust those critics. They are not serving in your interests.
As for me, I'm sworn to secrecy, but I'll say this: keep your ears open and soon, you'll be rewarded.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

buying what you already own

Bob Mould. That one guy has been responsible for so very much of my musical taste that there's no way I can "review" the newly remastered and re-released Copper Blue/Beaster.  I know these songs backwards and forwards, can play all the guitar notes, know the lyrics so well, I sometimes hum them in my sleep, and therefore, have played some of these songs as covers. The only question I can answer for you is why you need this, as opposed to just owning the original rykodisc pressings from the 1990's.
The first reason, though not the best reason, is for history. Bob invented the kind of pop music enveloped in squall that everyone from The Jesus and Mary Chain to the Constants has used. Sugar was his response to the best imitators of his sound: My Bloody Valentine and the Pixies, so the most obvious reason to get this is to hear his full response to his place in musical history.
The next, better, reason is that these two CD's represent Bob's most accessible work, ever and the new mixes make sound clearer, deeper, and better. If there's one release to suggest, this is it. If you tell me  you don't care for Alternative Rock, this is still the one to get, as this set has everything from gothic folk pop to out and out shredding.
Since chances are, if you're reading this, that none of the above applies to you. You already own at least Copper Blue, if not Beaster, and Besides, and maybe even a bootleg live LP or two. Why get this this?
Because it collects everything that belongs together, and it's on merge, which means it's a "fan" version of events. I can understand this- when the albums were brand new recordings, they had to be "sold" to us- we needed convincing, so the editors' hands had to guide this towards what they thought we wanted. Now, there's no need to sell this, as Bob has legions of fans, so instead, they can release everything grouped together in a way that makes sense for the existing relationship. Not to read too much in, but if you were there the first time, like me, this is how you have wanted to hear Sugar.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What I don't like

Sorry I haven't written, I've had my reasons.
By now, you've probably heard about Wade Michael Page. If not, count yourself lucky, and carry on. I only mention him because he was involved in a subculture I'm not too keen on. He was a white power skinhead. Now, as a fan of some Oi!, and Ska, I'm not against skinheads broad brush, and I keep my hair pretty short, not to mention that I wear Dr Martens constantly, but I will admit that there's not much left for me with skinheads as a whole. Here's the problem; non-racist skins pretty much constantly have to say they're not racist. It's just like there has to be non-stop apologetics for Punk rockers taking up the swastika. Why identify with that uniform, then? If I dress up just like a cop, people have every right to expect I'm a cop. If I don't want people to think I'm a cop, I have to dress differently, don't I? It's only through overly complicated semiotics that people can justify it. I'd prefer to make it plain and simple- I'm just some random guy. Make of me what you will. If tomorrow, my plaid shorts were taken up by some far right militia as their badge, I'd wear other shorts. Much simpler than trying to fight some meaningless battle about my 'right" to wear plaid shorts. I tend to think that any uniform is constraining, but that's just me. Of course, we can never fully escape other people's perceptions, so we all wear uniforms to one degree or another, but why invite misperception? Likewise, I'm all for self-expression, but you have to be open to the concept that you're miscommunicating, or that you're not who you think you are, and be willing to adjust, accordingly. Jello Biafra might think it's about violence, but I think it goes further. I think the real nazis are within. But, hey, I don't want to get too mystical. I'm just saying that I'd rather change my clothes, than change my mind. Because of that, there subsections of subcultures that I'm not really all that keen on and there are subsections of subcultures who are none too keen on me.What I've been trying to get at in this blog is getting past the notion of subculture, as we have known it. So, no, I'm not trying to preach indie rock, or metal, or goth, or hardcore, or emo, or even me, myself and I- I'm preaching that we all create our own culture, and then, try to get along with every one else. But, that message puts me at odds with both folks like mr. page, and, his unfortunate victims. I don't have anything against Sikhs, per se, but I don't really buy into the notion that a deity cares about my haircut. I think that's silly, marks a person, and constrains them. Certainly, no one should have bothered them, let alone kill them. I've not lost sight on who is the bad guy, here. But, the crime would be much less imaginable if there was no uniform for Sikhs, and no uniform for Skins. I'm not saying the crime would be impossible, but it certainly would be laid bare- this was a murderous psycho who wanted to kill people he thought wouldn't have the strength to fight back- not a Skinhead trying to kill Sikhs. Anyway, that's enough about what I don't like. Soon I hope I can get back to talking about what I do like.