Saturday, June 1, 2013

TV Continued

So, like many cord cutters, I'm liking my decision. It's not all economics, even. I've got access to some content that I otherwise would not have. For example- TV shows that never show on TV. I've watched several web-only TV shows, and so far, the one I watch most would be Fearnet's Holliston . It's a low budget throw back to classic sitcoms  that is evidently a spin off from Adam Green's ultra low budget movie "Coffee & Donuts" . It's pretty inventive.
I'm also digging the Howdini shorts, Chosen and yes, Arrested Development  . Yes, I could've watched all of that and kept Cable, but why keep cable? I still can watch everything from Mad Men to How I met your Mother, without Cable, and between Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu I can see every movie known. So, why?
So, yes, still happy to have cut the cable TV out....

All I could find from Youtube, etc

But still I am comitted to showing what I saw...

High Tension

I've only just discovered High Tension, so not much to say, but I love how they invert the formula- they start with a screamo/metal screech, and build to a pop-grunge climax. At least, so far, they sound like what Arch Enemy would sound like if they wanted to be a grunge band. That's pretty cool.


You know how people say that a band should be on a label? I'm about to do that, but for the opposite reason most folks do. See Roomrunner belong on Discord records because they would kick that hoary, staid old label in the keister to move them forward. See, they have a formula that's close to Discord's wheelhouse, but better. Yes, I said better. Bear with me, here.
I found their record "Ideal Cities"  when I was in Baltimore to see the mighty Baroness. I've been listening to it over the past week, and wow! I wish I'd become hip to them earlier. You start with an angular dub and skronk base, like Discord has been ripping off from Jawbox for years ( it's ok, we're all friends, here. You can admit it. Fugazi sounded ground breaking, until you heard Jawbox, right? ) But, then, Roomrunner add a layer of bubblegum pop melodies not seen since the late 1980's  "Alternative Nation" era. Not the cheap harmonies of pop punk. We're talking almost up to the Pixies type like stick to yer ribs/Why didn't I think of that? type songcraft. Then, they coat the whole shebang in a think gooey layer of sludgey grunge noise- all words chosen carefully. I think I'm in love...
But I'm cheating, here. I happen to know that they are, in fact, being distributed by Discord . I just wanted to set this up so you'll understand that I think they belong there precisely because they bring the quality level up to the standard you've come to expect from 1990's era Discord, without sounding imitative of any single Discord band. Hell, they actually sound new, different, and dare I say it? like the next big thing.
So, if you enjoy very loud, discordant pop-damaged post-hardcore punk rock, you're welcome...

Finland, Post-Apocalypse style

Full disclosure- my wife is Finnish. I have been to Finland many times, and would move there permanently, if my wife would say the word. She still wants to be in America, and that's ok by me. I don't hate America, and I'm actually fairly patriotic to some of the American Ideals. It's just a kind of selfishness that makes me want to move to Finland- I would dearly love to live in a more ethical, and just society, and I dig lakes, trees and rocks, a lot.
So, I have learned just enough Finnish that I can walk around Porvoo on my own, without getting into too much trouble, but don't ask me to have a conversation.
That's how I stumbled across Hebosagil.  I got their LP Lahto, and I can't describe it fully for you, except to say that it's so freakin' heavy and loud that it triggers tinnitus-like symptoms just on my tiny, tinny computer speakers. It's metallic, and it's sludgey, so you could call them "Sludge metal" and you wouldn't be wrong. It's also hardcore, fast, loud, and straightforward so a tag of "hardcore" wouldn't be wrong, either. The closest I can come is a mish-mash of  Today is the Day, Pig Destroyer, Sepultura and  The Melvins. Somebody get these guys on Relapse records, soon. They fit only too well....
Anyway, I can kinda-sorta make out some lyrics, and it's full bore Steve Austin to Jaz Coleman level apocalyptic rantings. We're talking some serious dislike of the human condition, here. But, my Finnish is extremely limited, so I could easily be mistaken. Still, if I'm wrong, it's only because they're trying to make us think they hate humans.
But, if Kowloon Walled City are too experimental for you-but you still want the heaviest music imaginable, here you go. This is seriously the heaviest music I can imagine, right now....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

QOTSA- ...Like Clockwork

So... new Queens of the Stone Age.... Return of guests like Mark Lanegan, Nick Oliveri , and Dave Grohl. New guests like Trent Reznor and Elton John. I'm supposed to get excited, right? I suppose I did, a bit, but, truth be told, I started hearing some very rough demos back in February and I held off judgement. I heard two tracks in April, and I held off judgement. I've had the record for awhile now, and I've been holding off judgement, hoping I'll like it more, and... it still is Lullabies to Paralyze, pt 2 for me. What do I mean? I mean I didn't absolutely hate Lullabies, but I can name you only one track on that record that I still listen to ( "In My Head" which was a total throwback to "Rated R" goodness) and I welcomed Era Vulgaris with open arms, and prefer that record handily. I much, much prefer the first three records, but Era Vulgaris gave me hope that QOTSA hadn't turned into a drag. Now, " Clockwork" brings that all back. Yes, it's a bit better than Lullabies, but, I think it's even more spotty. It has the first track under the QOTSA brand that I just don't like- "Fairweather Friends", and three others that are forgettable "I sat by the Ocean", "the Vampyre of Time and Memory" and the title track. There are three tracks that I really like "If I had a Tail" "My God is the Sun" and "Smooth Sailing", but sincerely, I see nothing else truly worthwhile. So, it's really hard to get excited about something I'd rather had incubated for a few more years, when the songs were fully written. First of all, Josh is clearly bummed out, and the last time he was bummed out like this, we got Lullabies, so I wish he'd waited until the fog lifted. He's a better songwriter when he's got something better than listless, empty hollowness to write about. Second, apart from "If I had a Tail" name me the song with a solid hook- not just a melody- the songs never cohere into a hook, they mostly are a collection of ideas, looking for a direction. Opener "Keep your Eyes Peeled" proves my point in spades- a fuzzed out skronk of a synth line, and then ?
But, I don't want to get into the negatives so much. I really don't. I fail to see the point in trying to say why I'm not into something, when I know that most everybody else will be into it. I'm not here to write jeremiads and I don't think I'm very persuasive, in that way, either. Also, I really don't hate the LP; I just skip a lot of tracks. I'll listen to "If I Had a Tail" and "Smooth Sailing" for a long while, and I'm sure "My God is the Sun" will be a great addition to the live set, but as a whole, the album really just isn't my thing. I've tried until I'm tired, but I just can't shake the feeling that something better will come down the pike.  Maybe that's because some really solid stuff has come down this year- Clutch, The Bronx, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, My Bloody effing Valentine, Coliseum (depending upon how you count it) Night Marchers, Wire, Killing Joke, and Rival Schools - that's a lot of really solid music for 6 months. I hope to get back to that, soon. I have given up on the new QOTSA growing on me, though.  Looking forward to (probably) seeing Kylesa in June...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy

Something came up at both shows I went to, this weekend. At Coliseum, Ryan went on a short rant about how he wasn't a preacher, and that all the devil imagery was just a symbol of rebellion, but that what was real was the bond between people at the show. At Baroness, John  expressed how he felt the show was a celebration, that heavy music dwelled too much on dark angsty stuff, so he just wanted this show to be about good friends and family- and I felt the same way about both shows.
See, I really am fairly angry as a person. I don't say that with any kind of tough guy pride.  I've been a tough guy- getting into fights, constantly struggling with the world. I'd rather not be a tough guy. I'd rather be a happy goofball. I'd rather fit the image of a nerdy old misfit than fit the truth- I'm a retired thug. But, the truth is that the anger came first, with me. Yes, I had some trauma in childhood, but the anger was there, first. I suspect that both Ryan and John have something in common with me- See, I've seen where it gets you. I have more dead friends than most old men. I have a collection of scars- one on the leg, five on the gut, two on the back, three on the face. I've broken a dozen bones. None of that makes me a better person- it just makes me tired. So, with John the trauma is a public story, but with Ryan, it's private, but I bet it matches. I'm willing to bet that both of these men suffered enough that now the last thing they want to bring to the table is suffering. A dude was talking with John, and they took a picture showing they had matching arm scars. I bet that happens a lot. My son has that same scar. John, I'm sure is gracious enough that he's willing to share his scars, but it's not for the sake of wearing his scars like a badge- it's to state the shared experience. He is telling the audience that they are not alone.
The reason why I bet Ryan's story matches is that this is one of the major points of Art- that it's a way of elevating people. This is the part that makes the blues, that makes the metal, the punk, even the hip hop so easy to misunderstand- you share your pain not to celebrate pain- but to alleviate the pain of others. You write a song like "Love Under Will" because people have their loved ones die- not because you think love and death belong together.  You put flowers growing out of a skull, not just to be witchy, but to try to demonstrate that something good can come out of suffering.
Not to get too far side-tracked on a tangent but this is also what I meant about deriving meaning from occult practices- one of the points of religion, especially of the Pagan/Satanic varieties, is this same notion of demonstrating that the natural order can draw beauty out of suffering. You don't have to be a believer in order to use the symbols.
Too many people get side-tracked by the symbol, though. With Baroness, the point isn't that they had a bus accident- the point is that they make beauty, despite even the physical destruction of that wreckage. With Coliseum, the point isn't that we're all gonna die- the point is that we're living before we die. With me, the point isn't that I regret being a thug, it's that I regret any second not spent towards making lives better- mine, yours, any ones. That's the thing that I think was being aimed for, in all instances- we're all in this to try to make life a little better.
William Morris famously stated to have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I like that thought, and cannot improve it, but I think the obvious subtext is that this is the point of our lives- to find something better.