Monday, May 31, 2010

Cold Cave - Love Comes Close

Some time ago, we were all slack-jawed out how Interpol seemed to channel the darkness of Ian Curtis, that is, until Antics hinted how those N.Y.C. fashion plates may have only had enough material for one great album.

Their (then) label, Matador, recently set the radar on Philadelphia’s Cold Cave-particularly when their debut created enough stir to sell out of their original configurations.

The only reason I bring this up is because if you were one that swooned at Interpol’s Joy Division leanings then you’ll want to check out Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close. Don’t be ashamed if you’re an unabashed Ian Curtis worshiper-I certainly am-which is why I’m so giddy that Cold Cave seem to be at the J.D. alter right alongside me, decked out in their best black clothes and Vince Clarke haircut.
In reality, Cold Cave play with the shadows a bit more than Depeche Mode or Erasure, thanks to Wesley Eisold’s pale-white baritone and the band’s reliance on left-field synthesizers.

And at just the right moments, Cold Cave brings the pop, and with it the counterbalance to Eisold’s bleak Curtis impersonations. Caralee McElroy throws a great turn of Dare-era Human League vocals, the kind that acknowledges that it is true: she was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.

As you can tell, Love Comes Close works best when you don’t take it so seriously. How can you when one of the song-titles is “The Trees Grew Emotions And Then Died” and the guitar part sounds like it was lifted from After The Fire’s version of “Der Kommissar?”

You’ll need that humor too, when working through a line like “You miss the neon lights/It’s all plastic now” (“Youth And Lust”) that’s whispered over a beat that you’ve sworn you’ve heard on some New Order song from years ago.

If all of the reference points and recommended-if-you-like tags are making your head spin the Love Comes Close may be a bit much to absorb. However, if you can take such unabashed affection and listen with a smile as Cold Cave conjures up their morose blend of post-punk worship, then Love Comes Close indeed comes close to gaining your affection.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

There’s a cruel irony whenever Electronic musicians strive to bring a sense of the natural to their work-one tends to contemplate why they just didn’t pick up a stringed instrument instead of a synthesizer.

Lately, there have been enormous strides in the Electronic genre to manipulate those sounds of nature into the cold precision of the silicone that’s fueling their muse. And Pantha Du Prince must surely be near the top of that effort, letting the landscapes of his surroundings begin each track of Black Noise before it dissolves into textural beats, expressive chimes, and sophisticated arrangements.

Between stays in Berlin and Paris, Black Noise compiles a surprising amount of natural tones and beats that lend the album as a nice winter solace soundtrack.
You’ll be hearing more about Pantha Du Prince on this record, thanks in large part to “Stick In My Side,” a nearly eight-minute wash of cool rhythms and Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox on vocals. It’s infectious enough, but unless you’re obsessive over Lennox’s extra-curricular activities, it’s the subdued pulse of Pantha Du Prince’s backdrop that will remain with you.

What should be driving everyone’s attention to Black Noise is the coyly infectious way it begins each song with a collage of sounds before falling into a comfortable pattern of sleepwalking rhythms. They may not exactly lead you to the dancefloor- but Black Noise certainly sounds like it’s taking you somewhere special.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Kanye West Single Samples King Crimson

Remarkably, the first single from Kanye West's new album Good Ass Job features a sample of King Crimson's classic song, "21st Century Schizoid Man." The song, "Power" was leaked earlier yesterday, but another find was also gleaned from the internet, perhaps even matching the strange pairing of Kanye with one of progressive rock's most notorious noodlers.

The pairing is of a wedding video, seemingly recorded in unison with that aforementioned King Crimson classic in the background. It features everyone from the bride and groom to Uncle Earl trying to get rum and Coke at the bar, cutting the rug to the King.

Sure, it's a patch job, but it's a riot nonetheless.

Courtesy of The Village Voice.
You'll have to monitor the internets to hear the leak of the Kanye song, but Hype Machine is a good place to start.
But someone needs to keep an eye on Ye, sample lyric:
"How Ye doin'?/I'm survivin'/I was drinkin' earlier/Now I'm driving"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Magic Everywhere In This Bitch...

So last month, I posted that incredible Insane Clown Posse video for "Miracles" because the world needs to know that scientists are a bunch of liars who need to get their asses kicked. ICP drop real science, yo, and a couple of eggheads down in Florida have finally gotten wise to that and done their own version of the Juggolo's classic....On ukuleles!

True I.C.P. encounter: I worked as a call center manager for a phone company, and on my team was a dude who was probably 10-15 years older than me. He was a strange fellow, but he had an intriguing enough past that I learned a little bit about him, until the point where his weirdness took over any redeeming qualities.

His son also worked within the same call center and during a conversation with the guy, I learned that his son was a huge I.C.P. fan, to the point where he was some kind of uber-fan. He created some kind of regional fan club website where people would come, sign up, and talk about how great I.C.P. was. Curiosity got the best of me and I checked out the site, not really knowing much about the I.C.P. cult of personality.

Most of the posts seemed to be fueled with a lot of anger. There were a bunch of posts which talked about how people were out to get them, how oppressed they were, and a bunch which talked about doing bodily harm to anyone they perceived to be against them, their scene, or their band. It totally changed my perspective on the guy's son and-by association-the father himself.

"What? You're not down with the clown?" he asked me once, when I commented how I thought I.C.P. was stupid.

Maybe it's thinking too much and perhaps I'll prove myself wrong if my own kids start listening to godawful rap music from dudes in whiteface, but I got to believe there's a point where you need to do a musical intervention whenever a loved one goes down a road like the Insane Clown Posse.

The funny thing was reading some of the posts within that site and seeing all of the anger and venom in a lot of the dialogue.

Then, very very rarely, a chick would post something, and the predominantly male members would completely change their tone. Some, of course, were so socially retarded that they would continue their requests for blowjobs and I.C.P. gangbangs, but others would create this creepy, protective persona where they attempted to seem sensitive and caring.

Then, another poster would try to use a similar approach and that would piss off the first poster, until it escalated into a whole "I'm gonna kick your ass!" back and forth, leaving the object of their desire(s) completely out of the conversation.

Courtesy of Phoenix New Times.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Not Jackie Chan

Much to my wife's dismay, the 3rd season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! came in from Netflix the other day and has taken over the bedroom DVD player. That means she has to watch Glee downstairs while I'm in seclusion in our bedroom.
My favorite moment is found below, in a skit that had me laughing to tears while my wife, who came in when this segment was playing, just looked at me straight-face, wondering why I thought it was so funny.

Maybe you're the same way.

For me, the humor is two-fold.

Firstly, I love it when humor goes past the point of being funny into that strange realm of uncomfortableness or outright irritation. Like the time at a California Angels game, when a friend of mine kept repeating "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks" over and over until the two guys we were with actually bought him some peanuts and Cracker Jacks just to see if it would shut him up.

Or the time when E was little and didn't know that the DVD player had a repeat function on it. He was watching an Elmo video and there was a cartoon segment with a kid in a wheelchair that sang "I have a chair! It helps me to get around!" I hit repeat and that thing played over and over at least three dozen times before he looked at me while I stood in another room crying from laughter.

"Daddy, the tv's broken!"

When he noticed that I was laughing, he understood that it was me that made it play "I have a chair" incessantly, and then, the joke could never be repeated again.

But another thing that makes the Tim and Eric skit so funny is how the battery starts to go dead on the buzzer while the camera zooms in on the man's face as it turns from a smile to a menacing stare.

Great job!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sister Sunshine Confirms That Dio Is In Hell

This kind of nonsense doesn't even bother me anymore, because I have a pretty good idea that hell already has a nice, warm spot reserved for people like Sister Sunshine here. Regardless of your religious beliefs, do you really think God supports people who post garbage like this online after someone has gone through a very painful illness and subsequently passes from it? I mean, was she wearing a "God Hates Fags" shirt as she beat RJD's puppy while he was going through chemo treatments? Because that's the kind of insensitive fuck she appears to be, judging from this righteous little sermon.

Many years ago, and I wish now that I would have taped it, there was a show on a Christian cable station called "The Crows Nest," where they would just make shit up about rock records. They'd play records backwards and tell you what was being said. They'd make up stuff that happened at concerts. And they'd go over cover art in fine detail, identifying every bit of satanic imagery they could find.

And when the ratings and fervor ended (or when people just gave up), the show ended.
This video probably gave Sister Soldier here the most views she's ever done, which will probably lead to more posts just like this.

I love how she pretends not to know any of this shit, but she was obviously a big Dio fan back in the day. I mean, nobody would know about RJD's stint in Elf unless they've done a little research. It's not like they were hugely popular and that this chick was even around when they were in still active. I think she's secretly a little broken up about Dio's death, but had to post some mean and evil video to "look good" around her born again buddies.

Deep down she knows that hell's got all the good bands anyway.
Via Glorious Noise boards.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hello, Dalai

The best thing about the Dalai Lama’s visit to the University of Northern Iowa came when he walked out on stage and shocked the crowd with a timely prayer for the recently departed Ronnie James Dio, followed by a stunning rendition of “The Man On The Silver Mountain” backed by U.N.I.’s symphony orchestra.

I’m kidding.

There’s nothing musical related to this post, unless you want to count the fact that Alex Chilton’s “Dalai Lama” was running through my head continually as I walked towards the McLeod Center on the campus of my alma matter.

If there’s a hint of pride in those words, it’s because Northern Iowa seems to be on a stunning streak of sorts-and by securing a visit from His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, it is nothing short of icing on the proverbial cake.

Cedar Falls was one of only six stops for the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the United States, and the event was billed as a keynote address on the power of education, with the emphasis on educating for a non-violent world. Since Northern Iowa began as a teacher’s college over a hundred years ago and still graduates a large percentage of educators each year, His Holiness must have felt that this Midwestern public university would be an ideal place to relay his message.

U.N.I.’s Wind Symphony did perform an original piece called “Joy,” composed by Jonathan Schwabe, a professor at the university’s school of music. His Holiness was provided with the original score of this work and he received an honorary doctorate degree from the university. He seemed to enjoy this designation, telling the capacity crowd that he did not have a lot of time for homework and that he thought himself to be somewhat “lazy” when it came to studying.

The Dalai Lama used humor a lot during his hour-long discussion, and it continued into the brief question and answer period afterwards. When he was asked about his life-long commitment to learning and continual education, he confessed that it only arrived at the age of fourteen.

Prior to that, His Holiness admitted that he was a little less focused on studying, to the point where the tutor assigned to him used harsher measures to get him to focus on his schoolwork.

He explained that his tutor also was assigned to the Dalai Lama’s brother and when both misbehaved, both students were provided with a stern whipping in order to get their attention.

A tutor physically hitting the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet?

Evidently, even the tutor understood the significance of his young pupil, as he created a special, yellow whip to use on His Holiness, to which the Dalai Lama admitted the pain stung just as much as the normal whip used on his brother.
In other words, there was no special treatment provided to him and fear was the motivating factor in righting his ship to become a worthy student.

That message-the notion that the Dalai Lama was something special-was repeated over and over by His Holiness, as he attempted to demonstrate that he was just like everyone else.

He felt it was important for the audience to understand that he was the same as everyone else and to not think that because of the fanfare, the adulation, and all of the attention placed on his visit, that he should be singled out as something more than another person.

He told a story in which people often approach him and ask for healing. He reminded everyone that he had his gall bladder removed a few years ago, and that if he truly had any healing power, he would have certainly used it on himself first instead of going under the knife.

Yet as much as he would like to us to believe that he is nothing more than a simple monk, the truth is that there is significance to his presence and that this was a significant event for the university and for everyone in attendance.

With several thousand people present, you could have heard a pin drop whenever he spoke. He apologized for his broken English and there was a dashing interpreter at his side, providing him with assistance to find the correct words to convey.
He confessed to using the wrong words at time, once confusing the word “optimism” with “pessimism.” Again, his humor and humbleness was critical in bringing him down to a level where the audience was comfortable and more receptive of his message.

The message was a simple one: incorporate a humanistic view into teaching, stressing the importance that, at our core, we are all human beings. He urged the future educators to look beyond the regional, religious, and racial differences between people and understand that those are all secondary issues. The first thing that we should all realize is that we’re all brothers and sisters, so put aside the trivial differences, treat each other with respect, and remember that the road to world peace begins with a path from within.

I’m not a Buddhist.

I’m Episcopalian.

But the message that the Dalai Lama spoke could have been spoken at my church because it is a universal message. Every now and then-particularly in a society where so much is reported on what’s wrong with the world-it’s refreshing and necessary to have the idea of peace and harmony reminded to us with a person of such stature like the Dalai Lama.

He admitted that as long as that message is adhered to, who delivers it is irrelevant. His Holiness hinted that even his own religion is riddled with factions and conflicting beliefs, but like humanity itself, the moral compass is unwavering.

U.N.I.’s President, Benjamin Allen did an admirable job under the spotlight of today’s event and seems to be doing an even better job of bringing this small university housed in a small town into more of a national spotlight. The Dalai Lama’s visit to the campus of Northern Iowa will surely put the university on a different level than the recognition its sports program(s) gave it with their recent success.

But he did put on a Panther cap within moments of coming on stage, so maybe that's a good sign for the school's football season this fall.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On The Road With The Mars Volta

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went out for an anniversary dinner at our favorite restaurant, which happens to be in a small town that homes an expensive private school. The community was having their annual art weekend, where they close off the main street and some of the local artists stop by to sell their wares and others are content with doing chalk art on the road itself.

Some of the images are quite spectacular, but one caught my eye because of the musical imagery. Evidently, an artist at Cornell University likes the band the Mars Volta so much that they did a portrait of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala.
No, it’s not “art inspired by the music of the Mars Volta,” its “art inspired by the creative force of the Mars Volta, regardless of how ugly they look.”

And here’s a picture of the quail dinner that I had.

Which one is the art?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio R.I.P.

You don’t know how sad this is for me-Ronnie James Dio dying today at the age of 67-and for some of you the idea of Dio is nothing but a joke. In reality, we’ve all had are share of laughs at the expense of R.J.D., myself included, but Ronnie also had the ability to laugh at himself too. That would probably make him better than most of us. I know I would probably take offense at some joke lobbied against me, go off and pout or do something else to demonstrate what a lousy sense of humor I had.

Take a radio interview with Eddie Trunk a few years ago, right before Heaven and Hell (known as the Dio-era of Black Sabbath for the rest of us) where Ronnie fielded a question from a caller about his age. You see, there’s a controversy about Dio’s age, for years it was painted in grey colors and it was a matter of debate. Until someone went and checked the copyright documents of some of his songs-a place where you’re required to put proper documentation in order to get compensated-and it was discovered that Ronnie was born July 10th, in 1942.

The caller, attempting to pin Ronnie down on his age and to poke fun at his advacing years, asked Dio "So how old are you

Ronnie, who probably faced the question numerous times and had to endure (good naturedly, too, I might add) a comedic team's song advising him that "You're too old to rock! No more rockin' for you!" understood that the caller really wasn't concerned with the truth. He was just taking a piss at the expense of R.J.D.

Dio's response, while showing some tiredness at the manner in which he was asked, answered bluntly "What do you want to hear? I'm old! I'm really, really old! Does that make you feel better now?"

What got people on this paper trail was that Ronnie was making records as early as 1958, in a rockabilly band called Ronnie and the Redcaps. He floundered around the Buffalo, New York area for many years until the late 60’s when he founded a band called the Electric Elves.

After incorporating medieval imagery into his lyrics, the band shortened their name to Elf and they caught the attention of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore during a performance where Ronnie’s band opened up for the bigger purple. When Blackmore left Deep Purple in the mid-70’s for greener pastures, the vocalist he called to initiate his new project was Dio. Black Sabbath did the same thing in the late 70’s, before Ronnie understood that he’d logged enough miles fronting some of rock music’s most iconic bands that he should just start one with the obligatory title of his own name.

Yeah, some of those Dio albums were bad. Some of Dio’s lyrics were also pretty abysmal. But a whole bunch of them were awesome, and his voice was unmistakable, even when his age began to distract people from his real accomplishments.

To this day, I would pick Dio’s work with Sabbath on Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules over the last three or four Ozzy-led Sabbath albums. I would pick a few Dio-led Rainbow albums over some of the shit Deep Purple released. And yes, I will confess to enjoying Dio’s Last In Line more than I probably should acknowledge.

Because for every endless mythical reference, to each nod to medieval times, for every tired tale of the struggle between good and evil, there was Ronnie James Dio delivering it like he meant every word.

What’s strange is that his last album with Heaven & Hell, The Devil You Know, seemed to hint at a honest struggle with the topic of good and evil. At some points, he sang like he was truly confounded on his family’s long-standing tradition of religion, holding it up to the lack of humanity that he’d probably seen in all of his years of touring.

I wonder where he ended up on his final days.

I have to believe he ended up in a peaceful place, as Dio seemed to be the ultimate optimist the last few years. The stomach cancer scare showed up at the end of the Heaven & Hell tour last year, but there was nothing in the announcements and follow ups to suggest that, aside from a slight bump to make time for chemotherapy, there was anything to worry about. In fact, Heaven & Hell had booked a bunch of shows for this summer and by March of this year, Ronnie’s wife announced that the tumor had shrunk and that his chemo sessions had been reduced.

But as early as this month, there were hints of trouble when Heaven & Hell cancelled those tour dates because of Ronnie’s health and even Blabbermouth got in touch with Wendy (Dio’s wife) to dispel some rumors of Ronnie’s passing.

She’s denied it, but also admitted that he wasn’t doing too good.

That was just a few days ago.

And now it appears that this last beast he was asked to battle was too much for his slight frame to handle. Yes, Ronnie was not a particularly large man at all-some would say the band name Elf was, in fact, a comparison to his small stature.

Which is what made his voice so incredible; the power and color that came from inside of him easily lay waste to other metal singers and it remains an unmistakable sound in the genre and an immeasurable influence.

His passing may mean that Ronnie James Dio is now the stuff of legends, but at least we still have plenty of worthy documents that show how his voice could slay anything that stood in his way when he was with us.

Friday, May 14, 2010

OCD Chronicles: The Outlaws-"Green Grass and High Tides"

I want to see Pat Travers this weekend, but I can’t.
Sure, I could probably whine to my wife and have her watch the kids solo, but then you have to prioritize the other factors. In this case, Traverse is playing at a biker rally about an hour away.
Strike one.
I’m not saying that I’d get into a rumble, I’m just saying it’s a biker rally. Since I don’t drink and I don’t ride a motorcycle, it wouldn’t be the best environment for me.
The other aspect is the venue-which I’m sure isn’t really a venue like you’d visualize-but it’s probably some biker’s farm land where he’s gotten a few grand invested in a stage, generator, and whatever is on the rider for Pat Travers’ contract. With the recent rain we’ve had, that field is probably a muddy mess
So I’ll stay home tonight, letting another artist that’s burned a hole in my past slip by.
All of this leads me to another artist-one that really didn’t have much of an impact with me years ago-but now I’m enjoying at least one track from them immensely. Get ready to dish out some southern-fried ridicule, because that band is the Outlaws.
How did I make the leap from Pat Travers to the Outlaws? Well, one was a fixture in that important middle school period of musical development while the other was around during that same time, but I chose not to pay attention to them.
Or maybe I did, to some extent, and I just didn’t realize who they were.
The song “Green Grass and High Tides” has been swimming around in my head for the last few years, the result of catching the song on a classic rot radio station and wondering “Who’s this?” I caught it in the middle, during the song’s extended guitar solo which just destroys. I mean, it’s up there with “Freebird” if you ask me, but without the radio burn.
I snagged it along with a couple other classic rock staples while I was parusing the internet.
Then it occurred to me: I’d seen the Outlaws live in concert at the age of 13.
In fact, The Outlaws were part of the package on my very first concert ever. That concert-part of an awesome festival that used to take place at the state fairgrounds-was called the Iowa Jam. The name was lifted from the legendary California Jam, except it wasn’t in California and it was held at the same place where later on in the summer they would do butter sculptures and judge livestock.
On that particular year, the Iowa Jam featured The Outlaws, UFO, 38 Special, and April Wine. Many of you may be scratching your head now, but this line-up would be considered hot shit for the day. UFO and The Outlaws were on their way down, but April Wine just scored a hit with “Just Between You And Me” and 38 Special finally took off with “Hold On Loosely.”
With that being said, this was the last Iowa Jam as the crowd was not as big as they needed it to be to stay profitable.
I knew nothing about the Outlaws back then. Their logo looked too country for me and I vaguely remember them being a hairy bunch.
But now as I become familiar with “Green Grass And High Tides” and its nine plus minutes of southern rock noodling, I wish I would have paid attention the first time around.
Here's a video of the song from the same tour that I saw them in.

There's a part two to this video as well, but I'll leave it to you to seek it out if you're all jacked up on Billy Beer and so inclined to view it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Live Review: Sesame Street Live-Elmo's Green Thumb

This was my third Sesame Street Live performance, and I’m happy to say it will be the last one that I’ll ever have to see. It’s my wife’s doing; she thinks the performances mean a lot to the kids, but I think she’s finally seen the light and admitted defeat.
The boy went to his first one when he was 3 and he seemed to really enjoy it. We took him to one right before he turned 5 and you could tell the magic was gone by then. He was more interested in nagging us for ice cream, cotton candy, and all of the other over-priced crap then caring about what was happening on stage.
Now, since he’s weeks away from his 7th birthday, we left him home with the grandparents while we took our daughter to her first exposure to Sesame Street Live. She loves music and her third birthday is in two weeks, so this should be the appropriate time for this kind of nonsense.
If you’ve never seen a Sesame Street Live performance, first, count your blessings. Secondly, understand that you never actually need to ever see a Sesame Street Live performance. Ever. Even if you have kids.
The idea is this: dress up people in life-size Sesame Street character outfits, have them sing songs together and tie the whole thing together with some half-assed plot.
In years past, the cast had a human main character that facilitated the story and acted as kind of a central figure. I think that the first one was some kind of scientist and another year there was a music teacher. For this touring troupe, however, there was no central human character. The Sesame Street characters worked solo with some plant theme entitled “Elmo’s Green Thumb.”
Elmo is a superstar. They tease the kids and make him come out last and when he does, there’s a bunch of excitement. One of the shows I saw actually had Grover as the main character on all of the promotional material, but when the lights came up, it was obvious that the main character was that red bastard, Elmo.
So Elmo has some bullshit sunflower that he needs to plant and some other character-a chick monster that resembles Zoe-but isn’t-has a magic wand and shrinks half of the characters down to bug-size. Then she can’t figure out how to get them back to normal size, while the other Sesame Street characters worry about where their shrunken friends are and…Yeah, if you’re having trouble following this, imagine if you’re two, you’re in a darken arena with a bunch of other kids and a bunch of sugar, and see if you can follow along too.
It was the worst plot of any of the shows I’ve seen.
The songs were just as bad. Sometimes, they’d do a different rendition of a Sesame Street song or another children’s song that you’d heard of, but other times they’d do an original song that tied in to the plant theme.
Actually, I think it was an environmental theme, because there was one song when the characters were tiny that was sung by a bunch of beetles that almost looked like German soldiers. Someone dropped an apple core and they sang a song about breaking it down.
I think that was about composting.
On other songs, they just changed the words to popular hits, like “New Attitude” by the Pointer Sisters. A good example was when Big Bird walked out to his garden and found a new pumpkin there. He broke out into Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” after noticing the pumpkin and changed the words of the song during the verses.
At least it wasn’t something from Gaye’s Let’s Get It On album.
I liked the Count’s song the best, but I can’t remember what it was about.
I have to confess that I stopped paying attention to the plot, the songs, and to the action on stage after a while, not only because I was bored, but also because everything was way hard to follow. Like whenever the scenes alternated to the tiny characters, there was no frame of reference to let you know they were small. They were still the same size on stage, and aside from the continual references to trying to get big again, so you didn’t know the we tiny unless they kept talking about it. In fact, on one scene, they seemed really happy and singing about bees, so I thought, “Oh, they must have found the right spell to get big again.” Then they started moping again and I understood that they hadn't resolved their issue, they were just bi-polar.
The real fun, as with any Sesame Street Live performance, is watching the kids and how their parents try to control them. There was an evil grandmother-type security personnel stationed at the front of the stage that would shuffle over to any two year old if they got out of their seat and began wandering around the front of the stage. She’d point her finger at them and tell them to get back in their seats, singling out a few “troublemakers” while letting a few get away with more than the others.
Here’s a picture of the grandmother security guard getting ready to bolt towards a 2-year-old girl and give her to pointy finger. Luckily, her mom caught her before Cobrafinger did.
On one of the two occasions that my daughter had to go to the bathroom, her mom walked her down the aisle and she noticed that the Goldilocks character was just a few feet away from her. She immediately forgot about the need to pee and bolted towards the character before her mom grabbed her arm just before she was at full speed.
I watched it from my seat and started to laugh, until the black kid that was kicking me in the ass from the seat behind us thought that I was laughing at him for kicking me in the ass. He laughed and began kicking double time until I turned around and glared at him while he was still in the safe confines of his father’s lap.
Kids breaking free and running for the stage is a common event at a Sesame Street Live performance, and after three shows, I’m totally bummed that I never saw a kid make it.
It was about three minutes after the second half started when my daughter asked, “When are we going home?” Yes, kids don’t quite understand that with their cotton candy high comes a devastating crash. They also don’t understand that this shit costs $30 a ticket, so no matter how whiney or tired they may be, Mommy and Daddy are going to make damn sure they get their money’s worth.
But even the hint of discontent was music to our ears as we determined that we would never have to endure another Sesame Street Live even ever again.
We did grant her one wish a let her pick out something from the merch table. Out of all of the crap available, she decided she wanted a tour cd to repeatedly play over and over in her room.
I would have preferred that she got an Elmo hat and I could let her borrow a Marvin Gaye album.
The original version of "What's Goin' On?" is so much better than Big Bird's cover.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

They Just F*cked With The Wrong Mexican

We had a food day at work for Cinco de Mayo, which meant that I had to endure a continual comment of "Boy Todd, your tortilla wraps are spicy!"
That's kind of the point, isn't it?
Meanwhile, some chucklehead brings a bag of Doritos and called it good.
At least I didn't have a ton to bring home (only three didn't muster consumption) and the real joy came from seeing that Danny Trejo had a special Cinco de Mayo announcement "For Arizona!" in the form of a trailer for Machete.

Am I the only one who though that Death Proof was better than Inglorious Basterds?
Am I alone in thinking that Space Terror is the best movie Robert Rodriguez has ever made?
Do I hear any voices yelling "Awesome" at the idea that Rodgriguez is bringing a fake movie to reality?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Endtables Reissue

I’ve never heard of The Endtables before receiving this email from Drag City records.

The Endtables were the crazed brainchild of guitarist Alex Durig, brooding
chess-master of the amplified freak-out, and singer Steve Rigot, a flamboyant
transgender giant from the shores of southern Indiana who reinvented himself as
a Warhol Factory superstar. Like Scarlett O’Hara wrapped in a green velvet
curtain, Rigot crafted his own glamorous reality from what was available in the
blasted cultural landscape of 1970’s Kentucky. Gold spray paint, duct
tape, Ace bandages ... a spectacularly other trailblazer who caused folks to
toss their received ideas of beauty twenty years before Gossip’s Beth Ditto. The
band also features Alex's little brother Albert During (fifteen at the time) on
bass, and Steve Jan on drums.

What makes this whole story so
exciting, is the band hasn't been in touch in three decades (except Albert and
Alex). Because of this re-issue, they are all talking again and even considering
a reunion show. It's been really fascinating hearing the stories from each of
them and witnessing the kick they are getting out of all this. I invite you to
be a part of it...

From what I’ve heard, I like.

Very primitive, early punk/art punk. The guitarist reminds me a lot of Greg Ginn and the amateur video looks like it could be from any college back in the day when people just pushed shit to the side, set up their equipment, borrowed a primitive p.a., and called it a concert.
Check out how the vocalist goes down for no apparent reason and then comes back up with his shirt ripped.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thanks, I'm Just Browsing

I had about an hour to kill while waiting for them to re-install the cd/mp3 player in my 4Runner, so I wandered around the Best Buy store to pass the time.
For record store day, I did a little article on record stores-which turned out to be an excessively long article that reminisced the importance of those places while honestly acknowledging that I don’t miss them much any more.
There was a long-standing dream that I had where I wanted to run a record store, but who didn’t? The plan was to open up one in Macomb, Illinois-a small college town in West Central Illinois that may have had a record store already, if I recall. I just remember visiting the community once where everyone was in the town square for some celebration. Most of the stores were open to take advantage of the traffic, but the record store was suspiciously closed.
This seemed unbelievably stupid.
So the business plan was to be open during local events and to make sure that every Beatles album was in stock. I was convinced that eventually, people would want to buy every Beatles album ever made.
What stopped me? The owner of the Record Collector.
Actually, he never came out and discouraged me. In fact, it was just the opposite. We were having a conversation once and I was telling him how lucky he was and how I wanted my own record store too. I jokingly said “I would totally buy your store if you ever wanted to sell it.”
Not even a second past before he replied “I’ll sell it to you if you want to buy it.”
I thought he was joking at first, but he was dead serious.
I became suspicious.
Anyone who wanted to sell their established record store that quickly clearly knew something that I didn’t and what was known was probably not that good.
Looking back now, of course, I’m very glad that my “I want to own a record store” dream never made it out of the bullshitting stages.
But back to Best Buy…
I’m walking through the cd section, which if you haven’t been there in a while, you’ll be amazed at how small it is lately. For real: the fucking Blu-Ray DVD section is now competing for its floorspace, and I’m not totally convinced that Blu-Ray is even a legitimate product.
Nonetheless, I slowly make my way through the alphabetized sections just like the old days and not once does anyone approach me. Even the Best Buy staff stays clear of the cd section!
And no wonder: there’s barely anything there nowadays.
I tried to go about the section with a blank slate, looking for anything to jump out at me, but nothing managed to grab my attention.
I thought about Def Leppard’s High ‘N Dry for a moment, but got pissed at the band when I saw that they’d recently released a “deluxe Legacy edition” of Pyromania.
Asking price?
Twenty-two fucking dollars.
Understand, Pyromania was in everybody’s car stereo when it was first released. Everybody’s. You could not drive down Main Street without hearing the ending of “Too loud man! Too loud!” from “Rock Rock (‘Til You Drop)” from someone’s cassette desk. Or “Said welcome to my shooowww!” from “Stagefright.” Or the “Gunter glieben glauchen globen” opening of “Rock Of Ages.”
By the next summer, I was done with Pyromania and Def Leppard.
But High ‘N Dry is a good album. Really good. The last really good Def Leppard album.
Not that Pyromania is bad-I already own it on cd, actually-but it was just the idea that it needed to be revisited, remastered, and reissued as a special edition. It was sterile enough when it was originally released, why did they need to compress it further under the guise of a “deluxe” edition?
Bonus tracks? Well, there is a second disc of a live show from that time period, but no b-sides, outtakes, or demo material.
And for all of this, they’re charging over twenty dollars?
Fuck off!
I made my way to the Jethro Tull section.
That’s right. I said Jethro Tull.
Specifically, Songs From The Wood, Living In The Past and maybe Heavy Horses. Then I’d be done with Jethro Tull.
All Best Buy had was the obligatory Aqualung and multiple copies of greatest hits compilations. They also had some live disc from a Jethro Tull from a few years ago, which I thought was pretty pointless. To be totally honest, I actually saw the show-or something similar to it-just a few weeks ago, which got me into the Jethro Tull section to begin with.
But thanks to a diminishing inventory, there would be no Jethro Tull purchases tonight.
Throughout the aisle, I kept noticing cds packaged in boxes with eco-friendly shopping bags. You know, the ones you’re supposed to bring to the grocery store with you. At first, I thought that maybe the bags featured the name of the band or artist-but no, they are just standard issue green bags with some recycle logo that even grocery stores themselves have moved away from.
It didn’t look like there was any jewel case in the box either.
Did you catch that?
It’s housed in a fucking box! Just like those long-boxes that they did away with two decades ago for environmental concerns! So here’s an “eco friendly” item packaged in a very non-eco friendly way with a music cd that really has no connection with the shopping bag whatsoever. Who approved this?
And the cds that you can get? Usually they’re greatest hit compilations (big surprise) of artists like Pat Benatar. Hit me with your best shop(ping bag)!
Moving down from the B section, I noticed an album that I hadn’t seen in years, Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s 4 Way Street, a double live album that I had no intention of actually buying, but I wanted to gander at anyway.
Asking price?
Now this is a double album, but $27.99 is just dumb.
This wasn’t a re-issue. There were no bonus tracks. This was a case of a long-forgotten album that is collecting dust, living in an era where cd sales are almost non-existent because of the perception that cds are overpriced pieces of filler.
And here was CSN&Y proving exactly that.
At this stage of the game, there’s no reason for this or any other title that doesn’t boast some matter of collectability can’t be marked down for quick sale. If that $30 copy of 4 Way Street hasn’t sold by now, it isn’t going to.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Glenn Branca Tortures Guitar

The only way that I can sufficiently redeem myself from posting a Glass Tiger video is to prove my mettle by posting a Glenn Branca video.
Branca is the man responsible for steering Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo down the path of alternate tunings. Look closely at the solo, and you’ll notice how the two picked up on his guitar gestations too.
Watching this black and white video of a solo from 1978 makes me smile.
I don’t expect you to smile with me. Hell, I don’t expect you to “get” it. This is primordial noise that would take years to harness before a wider audience could understand it.
That is, if you consider Sonic Youth’s fan base a “wider audience.”
In fact, the best way to better understand Glenn Branca’s guitar noise is to quote directly from one of the YouTube comments. It’s one that isn’t very flattering to Branca, but it and a response to it fit perfectly.
• max300988 Whats the point of this? Anyone can play like that, even a person, who never held a guitar in his hands. This is just noise, and nothing more.
• maneatingorchids @max300988 Exactly... beautifully worded.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Glass Tiger "Someday"

I don’t expect you to remember Glass Tiger. In fact, I don’t want you to remember them. Just share this memory-my only memory of this god-awful Canadian band from the 80’s-a memory that came flooding back to me while I was watching VH1 Classic’s 80’s video show while writing another article entirely.
I need to stop doing that, as my most productive writing times are when I’m alone in the quiet without distractions. Of course, for reviews the album is probably playing while I write, but for other things that require me to recall something, it’s best to work in solitude.
Today was not one of those days. I had to restart the computer to some bullshit ITunes version, and in the process of waiting for everything to come back on, I turned on the television to see Glass Tiger.
The video was for “Someday,” I believe the second single from their debut album that everyone’s forgotten about and you’ll soon discover why. It’s a power ballad, which was the marketing plan for many bands back in the day: start with a fast tempo lead single and follow it with a slow ballad second single. Part of metal’s downfall in the 80’s was that the bands started to follow the same formula.
I’m looking at you, Whitesnake.
Glass Tiger wasn’t metal; they were pop. They had just enough talent to catch a few ears with their leadoff single, “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone,” a song title that sounds more rock than it really is. Because the next line is decidedly un-rock: “My heart will break.” Seriously, if you’re going to bang a chick and then split, don’t ever convey emotion or sensitivity while you’re quietly digging in your pockets for the car keys when you’re trying to sneak out the front door.
But the second single “Someday,” shows the band in even more un-rock form. “Someday” is a mopey break-up song where the dude is essentially telling the chick “Someday, you’re going to be really sad that we broke up, but by then I’ll be over you.”
To convey this, the video director decided to place the band in what looks like an abandoned warehouse or factory building and told them to wear pastel clothing.
The lead singer complied by wearing a pink shirt and a maroon beret.
It’s supposed to look like the band is rehearsing the song, but the weird thing is that everyone else is plugged in and mic’ed up except the singer. He just mopes around and at one point actually pretends to use a back-up singer’s microphone like that makes a difference. He then turns and walks away, his voice magically projects without the aid of microphones.
One of my favorite parts is when-during a point where the band does a keyboard solo that sounds like a toy harmonica-you see the band “hangin’.” They’re quietly discussing the possibility of having a long, legitimate career.
If you haven’t guessed, I can’t stand Glass Tiger, but my anger was harsher back when they were still on the charts. This wimpy piece of shit was all over radio and, conversely, MTV-which was more like a contemporary hit radio station for kids, because the radio stations in our area played nothing current.
A few of us ended up at a friends house on a weekday afternoon where it became a daily ritual of getting high and watching videos-typically the top video countdown where unemployed young adults would call in and vote for their favorite videos throughout the day. They’d compile them all at the end of the afternoon and list them, 1-10. I remember that Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” was at the top of the charts forever; to the point where I believe the show actually disqualified it at some point because even the producers got tired of hearing it.
At some moment, Glass Tiger’s “Someday” was popular and a few shit-for-brains voted for it, placing the song/video into the top 10.
Nobody likes getting high and watching Glass Tiger videos. Nobody. But since our host was a girl, and since she’d often have some female friends with her, we allowed her to dominate the remote control.
Getting high with chicks was great because they tended to not smoke as much as the male contingency in attendance. Often, we were forced to give her little brother a few hits, but that was part of the cost of admission.
Her little brother-who would have been about sixteen or seventeen at this point, far from “little”-sometimes invited a friend over that was lovingly referred to as “The Yeti.” He was big. He was hairy. And he was the spawn of hippies, which made him a hippie, which made him an incredible drain on our weed resources.
One afternoon, the Yeti stopped by and went through his typical Wimpy “I will gladly pay you Tuesday” story, only in regards to weed and not hamburger. The Yeti was continually broke and even more often without weed. It wasn’t too long before we took notice of this pattern and on this particular afternoon, we grew tired of his continual mooching.
As he was pleading for a hit of weed, the Glass Tiger video to “Someday” came on. Since I hated the song, I changed the lyrics to something more fitting for the situation.
“Someday,” I crooned. “You’ll be smoking good hooch…That I’ve got right here.”
We were always coming up with slang for weed, and on this particular day, the slang word for pot was “hooch.”
An idea occurred.
There was a very attractive girl in the other room contently watching the Glass Tiger video. I thought it would be funny to have the Yeti do a trick before we allowed him to smoke. The trick was to have him go sit next to the girl, grab a magazine on the nearby rack and begin making conversation with the young girl. He was to look for one of the stray renewal notices that can be found throughout magazines, and then ask the girl if she’d like to get high with him.
Regardless of the answer, the Yeti was instructed to rip out the renewal notice, roll it into a phony joint, and then light it up. He was instructed to take a hit of it-no cheating-and then, in conjunction with the Glass Tiger song, sing the following phrase when they sang the line “Oh, oh, someday”:
“Oh….Oh…Good hooch”
He did a remarkably good job and was rewarded accordingly.
And Glass Tiger were rewarded accordingly when they failed to produce another hit single in the States.
Feel free to tolerate the embedded Glass Tiger video by changing the lyrics to my own.
And if you can find your own Yeti, weed, and parlor tricks to go along with it, even better.