Saturday, June 22, 2013

No Gods No Masters

Cultural Vanguardism. I hate it. Don't you? Doesn't everyone hate the indie record store guy who's such a snob? Don't you hate the Artsy crowd talking in overly obfuscated language about art while looking so smug?
I exposed myself to several hours of that stuff, this past week. Yeesh. I saw Kill Your Idols, Blank City and a bunch of Disinformation . Disinfo is probably the most naked about it, but cultural vanguardism is what they're all selling.
One thing I like about doing streaming TV, instead of cable and broadcast is that it's not tied to time. It's more like books, and records, and owning discs- you watch what you want, when you want. I like that it means there is no escaping that you are who you are, and you are under no illusions about where you are, and your relationship with the media- I'm not part of some vanguard, and  I'm  not hip. I'm just a guy who is watching a film, or TV show. I'm a consumer.
However, the key is this- that makes me the key player in my world. If I don't queue it up, it doesn't show in my house. If I don't buy the CD, it's as if it were never released, in my house. That's better than being a vanguard- because the vanguard is dependent upon the hoi polloi. I need neither. For me, it's just about what I think and want. But the trick of the vanguard is to make you think you're one of them: that's the only way you can stand them: you have to think that they have very high standards, and yet you meet them.
I'm selling you on a different concept: you set the standard, and it doesn't matter if I meet that standard. Our interaction should be as peers- you can accept or reject my opinion, and we're still peers, either way.  Your singular culture is as valid as mine. If we associate in some way, it's because we both have chosen the same thing, and neither of us needs a guide to culture. I mean, if you read this blog as a guide, you'll be lost in no time.
If, however you read it as my finesse and foibles in finding my own culture, you might see how you're doing the same thing for yourself. Get the idea? I'm not trying to make you like no wave, I'm trying to talk about my relationship with no wave, and hopefully, you can think about your relationship with jazz or math rock....
There are dangers, even, in viewing this any other way- I've mentioned that some spam bots are following me. One post they seem to like is this one . Why? Because the links lead to sites where you can buy things. If you were to go to my blog, follow the link, and buy a pair of glasses, directly, they might very well be able to trace your purchase, in an effort to get your credit card details. I'm not alone in this issue. So, consider that when reading some blog that tells you to buy this not that, or to support this site or that site. You could be exposing yourself to identity theft on multiple levels-not the least of which is somebody jacking your credit- and, at the very least, having your tastes dictated to you.
It has been ever thus, though. In 1981, had you met Lydia Lunch, she probably would have tried to scam you. Think about that. Your big Art Icon might be little better than a spam bot. So, just a dash of Anarchism can be a good thing.  Put that on a patch on your jacket....

Friday, June 21, 2013


As I've said before, I don't like talking about the impossible-to-get, but I have to mention that the new Baroness EP "Live at Maida Vale" is just the tits! Beautiful in every way. So, because it's limited, and nearly sold out, already, you might not ever get a copy- but you can see Baroness live- and that's where the real beauty lies. Seriously, if you've never even considered going to a hard rock/metal/ alt-rock show, you really should consider seeing Baroness. Wear earplugs, if you need to, but you have to be in the room hearing these guys who love music, and sharing music with people more than they love anything else. That, hopefully is obtainable for everyone.

Stoned Oranges.

Fans can be odd. I mean taken objectively, the way a punk fan can behave at a show might seem very strange- yelling obscenities at the band, running around in a circle, jumping up and down, and so forth. However, the behaviour that strikes me as oddest is the "invisible oranges" hand gesture when screaming lyrics back at the band that certain metalheads do.  That's just me, and maybe you find it completely natural.
That kind of behaviour seems to happen when you have a formerly Metal band go soft. Trying to imbue the music with drama, those hands go up, grasping and clutching at that imaginary fruit. I can see how, if faced with that prospect, you might do what Pelican, ISIS, and Neurosis have done- nearly or completely dispense with vocals. So, why did Isis team up with Chino Moreno? My personal theory is that, in Deftones, Chino never resorted to the cheap theatrics of invisible oranges.
Likewise, this new LP by Palms eschews the drama. People call the music that Kyuss did, or that Clutch do "Stoner" but there's too much action, too much volition for me to associate that music with being stoned. I think the appropriate music for being stoned to be far more static, and hazy- like the more mellow moments of Deftones, Jesu, and ISIS. You know? Where the music just seems to float, with no forward momentum?
Add a little more pop song structure, and you're there- that's what Palms sounds like. They abide. In other words, whether drugs were involved or not, they sound Hiiiii-IIIII-iiiigh to me. Not just buzzed- oh no, they sound like they are at cruising altitude. Which isn't a criticism- but I'm more of a beer guy. If I'm going to intoxicate myself, I'd prefer a decent beer buzz to being stoned. When drinking beer, I feel expansive, but energetic. I want action, but no drama. Meanwhile, stoners seem to not even want action. Which is fair enough, but ISIS put me to sleep. Again, I enjoyed that, and I enjoy this record. But, I have a hard time coming up with scenarios in which it will fit my life. About the only thing I can come up with, right now, is drifting off to sleep. If I were a stoner, though, I can tell you, easily- this is perfect for being so high that doing nothing is really something. If hands are upraised, it's to reach for the pipe, not to theatrically pick fruit.
Oceanic, Shoegazer, post-rock- I bet all these terms, and more will get tossed at this record, but, I'm going to call it Stoner.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kylesa 19/6/2013

So, I saw Kylesa last night at the Rock n Roll Hotel in Washington DC. I'll talk more about the show and band in a moment, but, as this was my first time at the venue, I'd like to mention that it's a horrible place for a rocknroll show. They divvied up the space such that the performance area could comfortably house about 200 people, when it could have handled 500, and the logic of putting large glass mirrors on the walls utterly defies me. However, as a bar and grill, the design would be genius, and there was a perfectly placed bar, and the upstairs "cafe" area would make for a great break from the bar to grab a burger- except the paucity of seating. I'd call it maybe a dozen seats in the whole place. Wish I ran the joint, I bet I could make it functional as both a concert venue and a bar& grill, at minimal expense.
Next, I want to talk about the crowd. I'm glad I wore a black shirt instead of the plaid I was going to wear: I got the distinct impression I had stepped into my demographic. There were a dozen guys with short hair, beard, chunky glasses, and plaid shirts. At least six of them, judging by hairline and colour were comparable in age to me. The good news was that there were a lot more girls than I remember at a metal show. I'd put them at about 30%. That many girls is always a good sign for a show.

So, I had to work, so I missed two of the four bands, but, really, I was just there for Kylesa. Still, I have to say, I saw Blood Ceremony, and that's just about 100% not my thing.  Twice I considered leaving even though I'd come from an hour and a half away, and overpaid for parking, and hadn't seen Kylesa, nor the merch booth yet. I don't like flutes, ever. I don't like monoharmonic monotone guitar/bass lines. I hate both Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep. Blood Ceremony is nothing new to fans of that, so I don't see the point there, either. I don't like religion for its own sake- I mean to say- you can believe whatever you like, as devoutly as you wish but those beliefs have no place in art unless they serve as either metaphor or guide. Artlessly describing and/or naming your rituals seems useless to me. I don't care if you worship the same as me or not ( in Blood Ceremony's case, they're clearly on the Satanic tip, but with a strong dose of neo-druidism) tell me what it means to you, not what it is.
But I endured, and stayed through Kylesa. Some of what I'll say about Kylesa will seem like a back-handed compliment. I'm sorry about that, it's just that Kylesa are different from anything else I listen to, and my language is awkward when it comes to something so far off from my usual patch.See, where most of what I like is about warmth, and communication, and exploration, Kylesa is cool, and mysterious, and impenetrability. They make music like some mountain dwelling mystic- you'll never truly fathom what they're doing, but you might enjoy the insight you glean from your reaction. As such, the presentation is opaque, with a multi layered psychedelic light show obscuring the band. The most stage banter you'll get is "Thank you for coming to see us". So, if you're there for a rocknroll show, you'd be better off playing the CD while drinking beer with your friends.
But despite being as distant as statues, they were really there, and as musicians they're melodic and innovative. Laura, in particular, seems to have a clear middle path charted between retro late 1970's metal, and mid 1990's indie rock- which would be grunge, but, in her hands it's neither Suzi Gardner, nor Lita Ford. More like J Mascis meets Bruce Franklin.

Technically, though, I think it's Phillip Cope's band and he stayed behind his wall of electronics and guitars the whole show . By the way, that really is a skateboard turned into a synth. 

So, was it a good show? I don't think I'd call it a show, it was more of a performance. They performed their music, much like you'd perform surgery, or perform a spell. Towards the end, there were some abortive attempts at a mosh pit, but it was kind of like trying to dance at a recital- it just seemed wrong. The proper response would seem to be more cerebral. Anyway, here's the rest of the photos. They aren't very good, because the light show mixed with incessant headbanging just didn't bode well for focus...

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Saw some of the Live Stream from Bonneroo . Mostly, it wasn't my kind of thing. However, the National killed it. Now, I didn't see every act, or even a third, so it's entirely possible that there were other acts that were good, but of what I saw, The National blew everybody else away...