Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Bloody Valentine MBV

What do you say? I heard My Bloody Valentine before my son was born, at roughly the same time. My life was forever changed, by that time period. My first, horribly ugly,  marriage the birth of my son, and my consequent behaviour changes, my changes in career, and living- literally I was transformed in every way you can be, and Loveless was released  3 weeks before my son was born. It was the soundtrack to all those changes, and I loved it with a fierceness that few things will ever command in me. It was the sound of my rebirth, in the wake of all my changes. I play the guitar, and instantly, everything I knew about my instrument was thrown out. I spent years trying to re-learn this new thing. I looked at my new son, and I wanted things for him that I would not have wanted before I heard this music. Within a year, I had quit my jobs, and I got divorced soon thereafter. I got a new job, relocated and tried to raise my son differently, and as unbelievable  as it may seem, Loveless was part of that. I had the Soon 7 inch, the Isn't Anything LP, and the Glider cassette, and they were all excellent, but Loveless changed everything, even as everything changed.
Then, 21 years later, things have changed for me. My son is grown, and living on his own. I have changed careers twice since then, gotten remarried, and I live a few thousand miles away from where I did. I am a middle aged man, now. I didn't have to leave my bed to buy this new release, which is fortunate, given my current circumstances. I've been told by a friend that MBV is trending higher than the Superbowl on Twitter, whereas in 1991, I was one of few Americans to hear it, let alone care. That's multiple lifetimes'  differences so, by what measurement can I possibly judge it? It's worth more than music to me, and yet, all it is, is music.
So, I will say- it's everything it says that it is, and it remains to be determined if it's more than that. The music does sound like a successor to Loveless. New developments are unobtrusive. Some drums are a bit influenced by newer trends, there are a few more discernible keyboard sounds and the mix is a bit more clear, but this otherwise is a pure continuation of Loveless.
I cannot give you standout tracks, because I have been listening to it for the first time as I type, and have been doing other things as well, but I can tell you that I believe it may very well change someones world. Will it change mine/ I don't know, but even if it does, that could not happen again as it did last time.
In the meantime, find it, listen, and see- maybe it will change you?

Trying to buy it.

I'll let you know

Friday, February 1, 2013

Red Emma's

I've done my best to avoid talking about which political theories I subscribe to, or about my beliefs, in general. This isn't because I'm trying to hide, it's because I want the emphasis on things away from me. In my idealized little mental world, I'm like an Emcee- pulling back the curtain, and saying " be amazed at what these awesome folks are doing" . I know that bits of me get leaked out, and I've made my peace with that. At the same time, I've got another blog for more personal stuff, so again, I'm not hiding, just trying to do the opposite of what most writers do- I want to keep your focus on the cool stuff, not me.
So, I'm putting something on here that's a little more personal today, and it does have to do with politics. Now, other than my more general neurosis, the reason for my preamble is that I don't totally agree with these folks. In order to explain that I have to mention what I do believe. So, I am a Marxist. I do believe in Socialism as both a politics and a philosophy. However, I also have a very strong libertarian, populist streak. This isn't a contradiction if you're versed in 20th century radicalism, but I have to specify that I'm not a Chomsky styled "Libertarian Socialist". I'm a Socialist- most closely, in America, to the DSA, however, I don't vote straight along any party lines, and sometimes support things directly against the DSA. I'm not one of those vegan, queer Anarchists in a black hoodie. But, I fully support your choice to be one. I'm not a fundamentalist christian with a gun collection, wearing Camo and hating the Feds, either, but, again, I'm down with your right to be one.
So, that brings us to Red Emma's. They're not my favorite bookstore in Baltimore, but I do like them. I don't fully embrace their politics, but I do like them. They're not my close friends, but I do like them.
They are looking to expand, and they are looking for donations. Now, while I think that the call for donations shows the limitations of their politics , I'm posting this to support that call for donations because, regardless of how they get there,  I'd like them to achieve their goals, because the end result would be good. I know the inherent problems with any "ends justifies the means" argument, but I'm not saying that anything is justified, just that I want to see the ends.. I still think that a more "traditional" cooperative makes more sense, but I'm willing to be wrong. Therefore I'm presenting all this- the notion being that much like the Emcee I'm trying to be- that I can present, and let the reader decide if it's worthwhile to them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Progress

I'm still the guy I've always been, I think. I cannot explain my love for the messy amateurish underground punk-based rock- hardcore, D-beat, thrash, crust, powerviolence, whatever, it doesn't matter, I still like the fast, simple and amelodic stuff. It's been a long while since I spent the whole night in the pit, but I did spend a while in the pit at The Refused- so it's incomplete to say that it's about the pit, but that's part of it. Part of it is connecting with a certain kind of youthful energy- the feeling that nothing is needed from the larger world. It's a tribal myth, I know, but a useful myth- if you think you are completely independent, it's a bit easier to have the courage to attempt fixing your own plumbing. But part of my enjoyment is knowing the distance I have from that scene. I'm a middle aged middle class type of guy- no one will confuse me for a squatter. At the same time, when I was a lot closer to that type, I still didn't look the type, so I've never been fully a part of things, so I don't think I'm trying to falsely claim it, either. 
Again, the best explanation I can give is that I'm still the same guy at heart, so I'm not yet done with this stuff.  This past week, it's been a lot of stuff from Moshpit Tragedy.  Favorites are the Atakke and Autarch EP's- both of which are far from purist exercises in form- they go between Crust, Metal, and post-rock, but no one will confuse any of this stuff for even something as polished as Disfear. Still, if you dig the raw, fast punk metal hybrid stuff, this is a great place to get your fix. I know most of the folks reading won't be interested, but I cannot ignore this part of my tastes, as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Night Marchers

Ok, I'm not going to pretend that I'm some kind of arbiter of taste, here, or that I'm even up to the challenge of being a music "critic", but if you value my opinion at all- go out and listen to this Album, "Allez, Allez" by the Night Marchers.
For the uninitiated, The Night Marchers are John Reis' culmination. As in, maybe you liked Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, or Rocket From the Crypt- but if you want to know where he was going in each, your answer is The Night Marchers. This is 100% pure, uncut Rocknroll. If you like bands like The White Stripes, The Hives, The Bronx, Japandroids , or Ty Segall, wait until you get a load of this. Punk Rock? Yes. Blues rock? Yes. Garage Rock? Yes. High Octane, Supercharged, Blown Out Power Rock? HELL YEAH!
Now, I know there will be detractors. Do the politics lean a little to the Libertarian? are there sweet and tender melodies in the blisters on the guitar's fretboard? do they eschew the "hardness uber alles" of modern Hardcore and Metal?  Yes, yes, and yes. But, if any of that is a hang up for you, you might not be fully suited for the space flight I intend to take. You might prefer the new Hatebreed record, or the oldest Amboy Dukes record you can find. That's fine, and you can dig your own hole on that. However, if you think, like me, that The Wipers, Radio Birdman, Flamin Groovies, Johnny Thunders, You Am I, and, yes, Rocket From The Crypt played just as bullet hard,  billet proofed rocknroll when they wanted to sound sweet for the girls as when they wanted to soundtrack the boys rumbling in the parking lot, then strap in, and check your instruments for take off.
Wiping away the metaphoric detritus, what I'm saying is that if you, even now in 2013, like hard and loud rock and roll, you will find no finer example than the Night Marchers. If that's something you're inclined to like, and I hope that you do, because it's better for you if you do, then, you need to secure this post freaking haste. Allez, Allez!

Adam Ant

I was a fan of Adam and The Ants back in the day, and, judging by the reaction that produces, I should explain: I liked everything the guy did up to Prince Charming. That means, no, I didn't really fall for his mid 1980's term as a pop star. I was a fan of his Art-punk abstraction, before I even knew that this is what he was doing. See, he just seemed like one of the few interesting pop stars to me- he was referencing Dada, Futurism, Spaghetti Westerns, Tribal "talking drums", Roxy Music, Elizabeth Taylor, and B movies, not to mention bondage, Pirates, the history of Native peoples, and the rest of what you already know. Basically, he was putting Europe between the World Wars in a blender with early 1960's cinema from underground to Epic and making spiky pop music out of it. Which, if you think about it, presages our post-modern hyperlinked pop culture present. Later, it did smooth out to standard pop music, but up until 1982, I'd consider his stuff as artistically valid as David Bowie.
So, he has lost his mind since then. Don't get me wrong, that's not meant to damn him. I say that with the utmost  sympathy, as much as I would for Roky Erickson. He has had success as an actor, seen his music fall in and out and back into fashion. But, in the background, he's seen the inside of psychiatric institutions, and rather than being on overly romanticised street drugs, has struggled with medication for bipolar disorders.  I think it's a testament to the human will to survive that he's still here.
So, he has a new double LP out, and I got it.  Ye gads. It's not exactly easy listening. First, it must be said that Adam never had the most tuneful voice- stuck halfway between a croon and a yodel, it's not exactly Mark Lanegan or Elizabeth Frasier here. But the spirit of adventure is back. He's made his version of the self-produced lo-fi, bedsitters LP. It goes between swampy blues, Bacharach torch ballads, and Eddie Cochrane styled rockers, and mostly is coated in a thick syrup of fuzz, with the vocals mixed very, very high. So, it's like listening to your cousin's band's demo tape. The flashes of brilliance you hear are undercut by the amateurish execution. But, I want the reader and potential listener to consider something- this is Adam Ant, here. He's a veteran. He's had some of the most talented musicians, producers, and engineers on his speed dial for the past quarter century. If he wanted to release "Friend or Foe, pt 2" he easily could have put that together. So, this album sounds intentionally unmixed. He's making a point. Also, several of the songs are polished, fully realized pop rock songs- so he could have put out just those, and cashed in on a "comeback". So, I'd like you to consider that maybe he has his sights set on something a bit different from some kind of "comeback".  I think he's shooting for something akin to what the Raveonettes were lauded for, or perhaps a more idiosyncratic version of what Bob Pollard is known for- this is a kind of fetishizing of the songwriting process- trying to catch the best moment of a song- whether it's at the rough demo stage, or the epic showstopper. What I'm asking you do is trust the experience and intelligence. I think there's a pretty good pay off in that. But, if you can't make it all that way, fair enough. I don't think everyone can give that much trust. Just don't think that he's trying to re-live past glories, here. The one thing conspicuously absent is nostalgia.