Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nice little life

I don't have much new to talk about. I've not seen any new movies, recently, I've not read any new books, as I'm still catching up with my backlog, and I'm still a bit obsessed with the new Baroness CD, so not much else is getting a fair hearing.
But, I'm still living, so I'm still experiencing new things:  The best of them, in the past week are these mugs, this beer, and this burger.
The Mugs are by iittala, which is the premier Scandinavian glass works company. My wife is Finnish, and Finland is fantastic place, so I'm all about supporting both the history and the recent design award for Finland.
I like beer a lot. Probably too much, but a good IPA means a lot. I also love Portland, OR ( and though I can't prove it, too well, I loved Portland well before the thunderANT song. What sold me on it was the clean orderliness of it.) So, a good small batch brew from Portland? Yeah, I'm about that. Still prefer beer from Montana, but this is really good stuff.
The burger was huge, and the place is local only, but getting coleslaw, guacamole, and baby spinach leaves on the burger was lovely.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Specs

You know, as much as we might not like it, as much as we live in our heads- between this being on the internet, and I talk a lot about indie rock, books and nerdy movies, it's not exactly a physical thing, this blog- fashion, clothing, appearance is a big part of any kind of culture. Here, too, I really am searching for what's a good expression for myself. So, I have a pretty tough prescription as far as specs go, which means I have necessarily limited choices as far as eyewear goes. On top of that, I can't wear contacts. So,  I'm somewhat at the mercy of optical companies. However, I've found a few possible solutions- Warby Parker, Mezzmer, Classic Specs and Lookmatic. To take away any possible suspense, I went with Lookmatic, but we'll get to that, momentarily. Here's why I'd suggest looking at  these- first they're fairly "indie"- Lookmatic is very loosely affiliated with Pearle Vision, but the rest are definitely independent. Secondly, Warby Parker and Classic Specs are big with charitable giving, and Mezzmer is set up with a political agenda. They're all more inexpensive than going to the Mall. Mostly, though, they're all really cool specs.  So, why did I go with Lookmatic? Well, first up, Warby Parker cannot handle my prescription. Secondly, neither Mezzmer nor Classic Specs could do my prescription in sunglasses, which is what I was looking to buy this time. However, all that makes Lookmatic seem like a second choice. There was a serious positive- I emailed all of them, and Lookmatic gave the best, fastest and friendliest responses- the customer service was better than any of my local brick and mortars. I could get more customisation than at my brick and mortar as well. I'm sure I'll be ordering from some of the others as well, but, for now, I'm very happy with the "Parkers" in tortoise shell, with super high index. Even if you don't need prescription glasses, these are better quality than the 50 dollar shades you're probably looking at.
Oh, and if you disagree with my choices, here's a great blog where you can find more choices.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baroness- Yellow and Green

Holy Shit! Yeah, I try to not cuss, but this is phenomenal! Baroness have completely killed it! I kinda sorta liked the Red and Blue albums, and I knew the hype was big for this one, but honestly there isn't hype enough! Yes, I got it early. There are advantages to being near Philadelphia, and having friends. So, let me tell you- buy this one, as soon as you can. Yes, they aren't "Metal" anymore. They're better. There are echoes of "post metal" like Isis and Neurosis. There are echoes of stoner sludge rock like Queens of the Stone Age, Kylesa, and Torche. There are echoes of classic rock like Queen and Black Sabbath. There are echoes of alternative rock like My Bloody Valentine and The Mars Volta. Yet, it's all a seamless whole. Doom? Yes. There is doom. There is an undercurrent of yes, melancholy in a truer sense of the word than can be mustered by the whole of the Doom contingent. Seriously, this ups the game for a lot of bands. I was expecting good, and I got greatness.
I was not really a fan of Baroness. I thought of them as two steps below Kylesa and Torche, if still a step above Black Tusk and High on Fire. This brings them up to QOTSA, Kylesa, Torche, and Red Fang for this style of Rock. Absolutely stunning! my first sentence is what I said no less than 12 times listening to this double CD. As I've said ad nauseum, I'm no real metalhead. I think the genre gets too silly too often. Mostly because of the over-use of hyperbole, both musically and lyrically. This deserves the hype. It's a genuine masterpiece, and I sincerely hope you hear it very soon.

Joe 4

I've heard of Joe 4 through a few sources, none more prominently than through the United Sons of Toil, so it wasn't exactly a surprise when I got contacted to review them. Still, I did find the direct approach refreshingly honest.
So, just to start- yes they're good at what they do.
I think they call it " Monster Rock" . To make it more clear , they play hard rock that's equal parts  angular post hardcore and sludge metal. If that makes you picture something about Unwound meets Knut you're not so far off.
 It's bass heavy, and rhythmic and loud and aggressive. Actually, it's not without precedent- there was a period when bands like Facepuller, and Ft Collins' Tanger specialized in this kind of noise, and it still sounds great. It's pounding, but with art- there are subtle shifts and turns within the beat, which belies the cro-magnon bent that might imply. These aren't thugs, but they might be killers.  It's not so far off from early Shellac, so take that, if you think it's dumb rock. My only quibble would be that I'd like to hear more variation in delivery- maybe some different tempos, maybe some less intense vocals- but that might be defeating the purpose- much like asking a hardcore band to slow down, or a reggae band to play on the 1.
Despite all that, and despite whatever prejudices you or I might hold about their native land ( Croatia) I don't think it's political, and I don't think they're being ugly for its own sake. I think they're reflecting extremes within a metronomic tack. It's all about the subtle gesture inside the bruising hit. As such, that puts them right at home with their influences. I've just heard what they have released so far. If what I hear is correct, and they've got an Album upcoming, I think it may be necessary for fans of that early- to- mid 1990's experimental post hardcore, that AmRep and Touch and Go specialized in. As it stands, I have no problem recommending them to any fans of that type of genre.

Nomads still going

I first heard the kind of Punk/garage/soul sound that bands like The Hives do back in the early 1990's from the Estrus, Get Hip,Tim/Kerr, Gearhead type of axis. In those circles, everything was obscure, everything was hidden, and everything undiscovered. Except the Nomads.  You'd find their records reviewed everywhere from Maximumrocknroll to Relix . Now, they're completely obscure, and they still have the form mastered. Whether you're talking The White Stripes, The Black Keys, the Hives or The Reatards, there's a line to be drawn that must intersect the Nomads.
So, the new record is called Solna and if you like garage blues punk, you might just want to give it a try. This is probably the only band that's played with both greats like Roky Erickson and Wayne Kramer but also The Hellacopters and  Chris Bailey. In other words, they're Rock music, for Rocknroll fans.

birth of the jangle

I've got a bunch of new stuff. Please don't take these as an order of importance- but I've decided to order them as I got 'em. So, even if it's not first in my heart, I got the new Mission of Burma  "unsound". It's like every other Mission of Burma release- a handful of tracks I really like with some tracks I don't think I'll listen to twice. I realize that they're considered like living legends, so I'm not going to go through track by track, because if you like Mission of Burma you already know what you like, and if you don't like them, you already have a rough idea of what they sound like.  I don't really care for their more angular and riffy side. Instead, I really like when they go for a melodic blurry jangle. They generally get there about 4 times a record, so I get the records for those 4 times.  Others get the records for other reasons, but that's why I'm talking about it- because that jangle informs so much of what I listen to, in general.