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And let’s move to the beat

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Like we know that it’s over

Water was running; children were running

Friday, October 13th, 2006

You were running out of time…

Catching haloes on the moon

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Gives my hands the shapes of angels

(Yeah, I don’t want to hear it… The lip synch is off – but it was in every version I could find…)

No time for heartache

Friday, September 29th, 2006

No time to run and hide…

we have in our hands

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

every woman and every man

With a gun for a lover

Friday, September 15th, 2006

and a shot for the pain inside…

I give you all…

Friday, September 8th, 2006

…a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all

(Ain’t quite Soft Cell, is it?)

Waiting for a sign…

Friday, September 1st, 2006

…to turn blood into wine.

She’s in parties

Friday, August 25th, 2006

…it’s in the can.

Friday random 10: “Better late than never” edition

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Up the Beach – Jane’s Addiction
Born to Lose – Social Distortion
Maiden in the mor – Qntal
This Faith – Front Line Assembly
Vivisection (live) – Southern Death Cult
Heartbreak Beat – The Psychadelic Furs
Halloween РSiouxsie and the Banshees
Twilight – Corpus Delicti
Before Night Falls – Peter Gabriel
Visible Second Coming – Will

The song remains the same

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

[updated 9 May 05 11:28A PDT]
Or not. 39 64! versions of Stairway to Heaven, courtesy of the radio station at my alma mater.

Mind you, this was (and evidently still is) the sort of station where you could go from Patsy Kline to Tuvan throat singing to Black Flag to Public Enemy to Thai Buddhist chants to Russian folk songs without (the DJs at least) missing a beat. It’s also the station where I once heard a DJ announce “Well, this is an all request show – but it’s also our policy to never play any top-40 songs. A caller has just requested Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town, so… we’re going to play it. (pause) At 78 rpm instead of 45.”

And play it they did.

[thanks, Patrick]

Friday random 10: “Who shall I say is calling?” edition

Friday, May 5th, 2006

So, like, I just figured that you don’t actually need an MP3 player to do this? And, like, I was thinking? That I wanted to, like, try this ‘random 10’ thing? Because, like, everyone else is doing it? And then I said, like, I have media players installed on my PC that have, like, ‘shuffle mode’? So, then, like, omigod! why not?

*ahem* No, I’m not a creature of the 80s. Not at all.

1. Who By Fire – COIL
2. Har Hou – :zoviet*france:
3. New Mass – Will
4. East Taunts West :zoviet*france: Torch – The Sisters of Mercy
5. Spellbound – Siouxsie & The Banshees
6. Summer Babe [Winter Version] – Pavement
7. Breathe – Ministry
8. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
9. Of These, Hope (Reprise) – Peter Gabriel
10.Disappearer – Sonic Youth

** Bonus! **

11. Ocean Size – Jane’s Addiction

Unless I’m actually in the mood to listen to early experimental ambient electronica, 2 tracks by :zoviet*france: is 1 track too much (sometimes it’s 2 tracks too much – I’ve gotta be in the mood.)… I hit “Next Track”.

And about that whole ‘creature of the 80s’ thing? Yeah, I lied. So what?

What happens when you cross Henry Rollins with Fred Schneider?

Sunday, April 30th, 2006


Why, naturally you get Black Fag, a Los Angeles-based Black Flag cover band. What did you think you’d get?

The story of Black Fag begins in the small town of New Hope, PA. Singer Liberace Morris was raised in neighboring Doylestown, but found a home among New Hopes thriving gay community. He worked at a vintage clothing/toy store while pursuing musical theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse at night. One night after Pippin rehearsal, Liberace came home to find his boyfriend in bed with another man. While drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole, The Raven, Liberace started singing and playing Black Flags Nervous Breakdown on the piano. The rest of the bar simply ate it upuntil the end of the song, when Liberace stood up and started haphazardly hurling martini glasses around the place. He was permanently ejected from The Raven and convinced that his life was officially over.

While lying on the sidewalk debating what type of pills would make for the most dramatic accessory to his final exit, a shadow loomed over him. It was bassist Cher Dykeowski, a biker dyke like no other, who was in town for the annual motorcycle rally. She, too, was a Black Flag fan, and had seen something special in Liberaces performance. Having not had a steady home since her parents kicked her out after she attended her senior prom with her Phys. Ed. teacher, Cher was a wanderer with plans to make her way to California. She offered Liberace the bitch seat on her Harley and, with nothing left for either of them in Pennsylvania, they set off on an epic cross-country journey, which included Cher winning a blue ribbon at the Annual Gay Rodeo in Scottsdale, AZ along the way. (And believe you me, the rest of that trip makes Priscilla, Queen of the Desert look like Andy Warhols Sleep, but thats a tale to be told on another day)

It only gets funnier stranger funnier from there…

This may have to be my next music purchase

[via]

Delta punk

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

(updated 15-Oct-05, here)

There’s a shitstorm brewing in the larger world, and, well… I don’t feel like writing about it. My thoughts aren’t coherent enough to be worth sharing as of yet, so until something worthwhile coalesces, you’re going to have to put up with my ramblings about music.

Ever since the mid ’80s, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of fusing traditional music with rock ‘n’ roll. Not folk rock per se, but hard, kick-ass rock. What crystallized this for me was Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, largely overlooked by much of the sf/f community, and now (sadly, IMO) mostly marketed as juvenile fantasy instead of adult. It’s great urban fantasy, with Celtic fey forces coming to life to do battle… in modern Minneapolis. Okay, it’s not the strongest premise when phrased like that, but it’s a hell of a story nonetheless. The shidhe need music to do battle – and they need to recruit human musicians for that role, otherwise no one will die in combat. Bull’s prose manages to evoke the best of dirty, sweaty, smoky punk rock melded with bardic melodies – and it becomes pure musical magic in this book.

Ever since, I’ve been looking for this combination, largely to no avail. I’m a huge fan of Jethro Tull, for instance; their albums Broadsword and the Beast and Songs from the Woods meld traditional melodies with rock instruments to good effect – but not quite. And the quasi-Tull side project Fairport Convention, which stays closer to the traditional side of things, falls much more firmly into the realm of folk rock. I’ve bought albums by Boiled in Lead, the band that largely inspired War for the Oaks – and they too, while fun to listen to, fall short (for me) of the wonder and magic of the book.

It’s the great divide between specification and implementation, right? I’ve tried Rare Air, Clannad, Lorenna McKinnet, Dead Can Dance, Delerium, Deep Forest – to no avail. I’ve liked all of them, more or less, but none of them have met that idealized standard that I formed way back when. It’s funny how Renaissance, Medieval & Gregorian seem to work better with harder rock, which is where my tastes lie. But for folk…? Dance and electronica? Sure. Black leather and studs punk? Not so much.

Still, I haven’t stopped looking – it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve made a point of seeking out unconventional combinations of ‘traditional’ music forms with harder rock, and as a result I’ve found a lot of bands that I now enjoy. Some have been real clunkers, but most have been quite good – and even the best of them fall short of what I created in my mind oh those many years ago.

So it was with great pleasure that I stumbled across a Minnesota-based band that did punk blues. Not rockabilly or psychobilly, but punk-rock-blues. I like punk (duh!), I like the blues – how cool could that be? I liked the samples and videos on their website, so I ordered their latest album. After many travails detailed elsewhere, I FINALLY HAVE IT. And without further ado, here are my thoughts on the Blackeyed Snakes’ album Rise Up!.

First, the cover & album art: instead of your standard jewel box, BeS opted for a heavy paperstock cover. It’s a little thinner than a regular jewel case, and as a result feels a little less substantial, a little flimsier than a plastic case. Still, no real points lost here. And the art is pretty good: it’s a murky black faux naive or folk-primitive painting depicting a Pancho Villa-esque skeleton astride a horse, surrounded by pale robed figures that could be acolytes or ghosts or more skeletons. In the background, there are decapitated heads stuck atop poles. Taken together, is it revolution or is it the dead coming to life? Either interpretation fits with the album title, so I’d give the whole package a thumbs up.

On to the music… Let’s be straight up: this album will probably displease traditionalists of either camp, punk or blues. It feels like a harsher, less-polished version of, say, Tull or Led Zepplin’s early blues pieces. A post-punk sensibility runs through it, as well… These guys are aware that they’re doing this thing, this band; it doesn’t feel like something that happened once they started playing togehter – it feels like a bunch of guys were sitting around and said “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then made it so.

This is not to say that it is a bad album – on the contrary, I quite liked it. But there are audible differences between the tracks mixed at their Duluth studio and the Chicago studio where the album was produced (the Chicago tracks sound crisper). The instrumentation and composition is strong – the music feels like the blues. The lead singer has a smoky, raspy, whiskey-drinking voice, and the effect used when recording vividly evokes an image of someone in a dark, sweaty club wailing into an old-fashioned microphone, a primitive Jazz Age ‘phone or a streamlined chrome mike reminiscent of post-WW2 car grilles. In the live tracks (the videos on their site), it worked perfectly. In the studio tracks, it’s a little disappointing once you realize that’s the way it’s going to be for the entire album.

Also, while I don’t expect any of them (or anyone connected to them) to ever read this review, I’d like to point out that part of the fun of the blues is the lyrics. There’s clever wordplay and raunchy innuendo; there’s poetry composed of real life tragedy and triumph along with the highs and lows of petty day-to-day living. And you get to hear none of that on this album. IMO, an insert with the lyrics would definitely have added a lot, and made the vocal effect less irritating. Eh, irritating is too strong a word. How about saying that the overall effect would have been a lot stronger, instead. A punk purist is going to be irked by the fact that, by choosing to play more faithfully to the blues idiom, some of the ‘filth and fury’ that make punk punk will be lost. If you’re going to try and capture the feel of traditional blues, even if you play them through a punk filter, you’re going to sound a lot more like Led Zepplin than, say, the Sex Pistols.

Lest you think otherwise, I did like the album. I’d even recommend it (with a few caveats) to someone open-minded enough to grok how a punk blues band might be cool. If this sounds intriguing to you conceptually, I’d say go for it. I bought my copy through Amazon, but you can find it online, both used and new, for less than what I paid for it.

[updated 15-Oct-05 11:45AM PDT: Okay, I’m at work right now, and being the only person in the office, I’ve got this puppy cranked over speakers instead of headphones and you know what? It sounds a lot better this way, sounding both punkier and bluesier… Cool! This kicks some serious ass! (back to top)]

freakin’ finally…

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

Well, a while ago I posted something about the Black-Eyed Snakes, a Duluth, MN-based punk-blues band… I ordered their latest CD through their site, and then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

“Okay”, I thought, “they’re musicians, not a record store… It looks like they all belong to more than one band, and at least one of them publishes an alt ‘zine as well, so they’re gonna be busy… I can wait.”

And wait I did – for 6 weeks.

So I emailed the contact listed by PayPal, and asked what was up with that? Never heard anything.

I waited a little more… Still nothing.

So I emailed again. No response.

I waited yet a little more, and, still having heard nada, I emailed one last time saying that if I didn’t get a response, I was going to have PayPal cancel the order and refund my money. Still no response, but within a day or two there was a PayPal credit to my online account…

Guys, can I point out something to y’all? I ordered your CD from your site because, well, you make more money that way, right? I could have ordered it from Amazon or any other online retailer for more money – and you’d have gotten a smaller cut of that money. But I didn’t – I bought it from you.

And y’all didn’t exactly go out of your way to encourage me to repeat the experience… One stupid email (“sorry, misplaced the order, it’s on its way” or “we’re out of CDs right now, can you wait X weeks until we get another pressing”) would have gone a long way. I mean, I’m not about to start a new website blackeyedsnakessuck.com or anything like that – but in the future, it probably wouldn’t hurt if y’all treated your customers like, well, customers. Or better yet, like fans – which, since I’m trying to buy your friggin’ CD, I probably am. Or I could be.

Okay, </rant>. See, I really did like their music – and I did buy the CD through Amazon a week ago (along w/ a Celtic punk CD from the band Blood or Whiskey), and it shipped last night.

Freakin’ finally…