Sunday, November 27, 2011

If 6 Was 9 Then Today Jimi Turns 69

It’s Jimi Hendrix’s birthday today. And while 70th birthday sounds a lot more meaningful than 69, Jimi did ponder what if six turned out to be nine and he recently made the headlines again thanks to a meaningless “Best Guitarist Ever” poll, one in which they righted some glaring oversights in the last one.

But they left the #1 spot the same because there really is no argument who the greatest guitar player in the world is.

You can try and find Hendrix’s adversaries, but you won’t be able to demonstrate that any one of them changed the face of their instrument in the way Hendrix did.


People will also correctly point out that all of this happened in less than a half-decade, but they often forget that he did nothing but work on his craft for the other half of it. The dude played, rehearsed and toured to be good enough to get your attention for a few moments of your time away from the headliner you came to see.

All of those tales are overlooked once you learn about the night Hendrix slept with his guitar.

I have to believe there are people out there, young, aspiring guitarist who hear that story and think of it as some kind of shortcut to greatness. That maybe they don’t hear enough of the work Hendrix put into his playing, focusing instead on those often repeated stories of the drive to greatness-not the unromantic tales of hard work.

Will there ever be a guitarist as good as Hendrix? Honestly, they’re probably has been a better one already. But Hendrix’s ranking is more than just the notes he played, it’s how he transcended the instrument itself, turning it into the focal point of the performance and securing its role within rock and roll’s blueprint.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flaming Lips: Christmas On Earth

You know, I've warmed somewhat to the Flaming Lips' boring Christmas On Mars movie, to the point where I'll watch it every year during the holidays, right alongside with the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim as Scrooge.

The Lips' movie is nowhere near as good as it, but the Lips have that pussy Charles Dickens beat with their Silver Trembling Fetus Ornament.

I've got plent of Elvis ornaments.

Someone stole my Iron Maiden ornament.

I must acquire the Silver Trembling Fetus Ornament.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wayne Kramer & James Williamson Throbblehead

These look pretty cool.

No silly looking faces or weird expressions.

I've always liked Williamson's guitar work. That guitar lick on "New Values" is awesome; I always wanted House of Large Sizes to cover it.

Below is the release.

"Arriving this month are the next figures in the GUITAR GODS series...

Brother Wayne Kramer, founder of Detroit's radical rock group MC5, and James Williamson, best known for co-writing and playing on Raw Power in the protopunk rock band Iggy & The Stooges and his contributions Kill City with Iggy Pop, as well as producing New Values for Iggy Pop.

Both guitarists were named in Rolling Stone Magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Both figures deliver a signature riff at the push of a button and are displayed in a multi-panel box, stand at 7 inches tall, are made of a lightweight polyresin, and retail for $24.95.

The Wayne Kramer figure is limited to 750 numbered units. Wayne dons his White Panther Party threads, curly hair, and American flag guitar. Brother Wayne's inimitable style was the first to combine rock with free jazz to create the genre's most unique result -- high-energy sci-fi hard rock and roll.

Order and sound clip

The James Williamson figure is limited to 500 numbered units. James is accurately sculpted right down to his signature threads, hipster hair, and Sunburst Solid Body Guitar. James' guitar style is widely acknowledged to have been an influential guitar style for 100's of guitarists from the Sex Pistols to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Green Day. James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2010 along with the other members of the Stooges."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mojo Nixon Throbblehead

I saw Mojo Nixon once with Skid Roper at Steb’s in Cedar Falls.

Good-sized crowd as I recall, and Mojo did all the “hits” which must have been tortuous after the fortieth show of the tour.

Yes, Mojo’s shtick didn’t seem to last all that long, which is a testament to his talent and lack of diversity.

Perhaps that’s why his run of throbbleheads is only about 500 units,

The pitch:

"Mojo Nixon, the patron saint of psychobilly, has finally been realized in throbblehead form!

This figure capturing his look from the late 80s is limited to 500 numbered units, stands at 7 inches tall, and is made of super strong polyresin.

Mojo holds his sweet sunburst hollow body proudly while extemporaneously pontificating. He's accurately sculpted right down to the ponderously raised eyebrow, plaid shirt, and signature mutton chops.

"It makes a great stockin stuffer for your drunk uncle," said Mojo. "Every hostess with psychosis will need at least one for their X-mas xtravaganza. Hope nobody pleasures themselves with my good lookin doll!"

Currently, you can check out Mojo on Sirius XM "Outlaw Country" (Channel 60 - Weekday Afternoons - 4pm EST), "Lying Cocksuckers" Political Show (Channel 99 - Thursdays 5pm EST), and "Manifold Destiny" NASCAR Show (Channel 90 - Monday 10pm EST).

MOJO is everywhere!

The figures cost $19.95, and orders will ship the first week of November.

Check out the commercial that Nixon recorded a song for..."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jello Biafra Throbblehead

Let’s get one thing straight, I don’t actually own any bobbleheads.

But I do like lookin at ‘em and I think if you’re single and need to piss your money away because you don’t have a girl or a dog, bobbleheads are the perfect investment.

Then when you do get a girl, you’ll have to explain to her who G.G. Allin is.

The market seems to be flooded with these little critters, and below is the latest: Jello Biafra.

Now I have mixed emotions about this one.

First off, the commercial is completely cheap. And I question if Jello even knows this is taking place.

If he does, does he get a cut of the action? Seems somewhat hypocritical that he’s against reissuing Dead Kennedy’s records but he’s ok with his likeness being on a bobblehead.

Just sayin’…

Here’s what the manufacturers have to say:

"Jello Biafra, the original political punk and former ringmaster of Dead Kennedys, is now a throbblehead.

This figure capturing his look from the 80s is limited to 1000 numbered units, stands at 7 inches tall, and is made of super strong polyresin.

Jello is accurately sculpted right down to the piercing glare, star belt buckle and Alternative Tentacles tee.

The figures cost $19.95, and orders will ship the first week of December.

Check out the commercial below featuring Jello's "Occupy" rant..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New York Dolls Lookin' Fine On Television Available Today

Head down to your favorite video store today to pick up the new VHS copy of New York Dolls’ Lookin’ Fine On Television.

It’s also available on Selectavision!

Here’s what the promotional department has to say about the film:

"In the early 70's, Rock photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya purchased a portable video recorder. In a period of three years, they shot over 40 hours of New York Dolls footage. This footage became the critically acclaimed documentary All Dolled Up. For Lookin' Fine On Television more footage has been edited to create fifteen live music video-style clips.

These fifteen clips include footage from the Dolls' early shows in NYC at clubs such as Kenny's Castaways, and Max's Kansas City as well as their West Coast tour: Whisky-A-Go-Go, the Real Don Steele Show, Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, and more.

All the fan favorites are here including ripping versions of "Personality Crisis," "Who Are the Mystery Girls?" "Babylon" and more. See the incredible early days of the band that influenced generations of punks and rockers.

Tracklist: Jet Boy, Personality Crisis, Bad Girl, Human Being, Bad Detective, Subway Train, Trash, Vietnamese Baby, Lookin For a Kiss, Who Are The Mystery Girls, Private World, Babylon, Frankenstein, Chatterbox, Jet Boy

Bonus: Ultra rare 1976 Lisa Robinson interview with David Johansen and Johnny Thunders

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Fall Set To Release Their 29th Album: Ersatz G.B.

Hey it’s the holiday week, so the Totales will be in our state’s capitol city opening for Canned Heat and Leslie West’s Peg Leg Trio. Please don’t break into our place when we’re gone.

To act like the blog is being manned, the next few days will be posts about shit you can buy-which is what being an American is all about. Feel free to put this stuff on your Christmas List and remember to get up at 4:20 am on Friday morning to read the new post on Glam-Racket and to get in line for the Black Friday sale at Montgomery Wards.

Here’s something that will be on my list this year and hopefully yours.

"Ersatz G.B. is the new studio album from The Fall, the 29th in their impressive canon. As with any Fall recording, Ersatz G.B. retains many of the group's most distinctive elements, whilst offering a fresh take on Mark E. Smith's familiar style and subject matter.

The line-up on the album remains the same as for the last few Fall releases: Peter Greenway (lead guitar), Keiron Melling (drums), Elena Poulou (keyboards,vocals), Mark E. Smith (vocals) and David Spurr (bass).

Ersatz G.B. is The Fall's first album for Cherry Red Records and it will be released on CD, limited edition vinyl and digital formats, preceded by a double A-side 7" single.

There aren't very many groups that have been together longer than The Fall and it's difficult to think of any who, like The Fall, have released brand new material almost every year. Formed at the height of the punk rock movement in Manchester in 1976, The Fall is essentially built around its founder and only constant member Mark E. Smith. The group's music has gone through several stylistic changes over the years but it is often characterised by an abrasive, guitar-driven sound and frequent use of repetition, and is always underpinned by Smith's distinctive vocals and often cryptic lyrics.

The Fall were long associated with BBC disc jockey John Peel, who championed the group from the very early days and often cited them as his favourite group, famously opining, "they are always different; they are always the same."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fall - Extricate

I recently burned a copy of The Fall’s Extricate album, which prompted me to revisit it myself. It’s often overlooked by Fall fans-myself included, I suppose-but that quick reprise brought 1990 right back.

It was my final year of college and I was forced into sticking my toes into the cold reality of adulthood. As a result, Extricate played strongly into my life’s soundtrack and remains entrenched as a playlist from my final days of college.

There’s an expanded version available now, but this review represents that good ol’ vinyl version of two decades ago. To be honest, the expanded version feels a bit bloated to me. The brevity of the original is the best way to devour Extricate, but if you get the extra stuff for the same price as the first run, then so be it.

Extricate was the first album after Mark E. Smith and Brix divorced, so there was a real concern that all of the forward progression the band was making during the 80’s would soon be stunted during the new decade.

That’s a fair concern, as the Brix-era Fall is probably the band’s most consistently awesome period, and it began a process of bringing some unintentional consistency to the name.

That must have just killed Smith, a man enamored with the vitality of garage rock and a firm believer in limiting the exposure time to studio tan.

But there is some extra studio depth to Extricate and it makes the album a bit more interesting. Even with that additional professionalism, the record is still undoubtedly The Fall, and the band’s performances sound renewed, hinting at promising possibilities

None is more obvious than with the leadoff single “Telephone Thing,” a Hacienda-worthy dance number with the help of Coldcut manning the controls of the band’s curious creative decision.


It works.

And it began my first attempts as using the newly christened internet as a research tool.

You see, I had been listening to Extricate for so long that I became enamored with learning who this Gretchen Franklin was, the “nosey matron thing” that Smith barked about during the song.

“How dare you assume I want to parlez-vous with you!” he deadpans, prompting me to wonder, “Who is this Gretchen Franklin?” I discovered she was a character-a “nosey matron thing” from England’s popular EastEnders soap opera show-who served as comedic effect pensioner in the series.

“Hilary” is a lighthearted pop number that continually replayed in my mind during the 2008 elections, although the line “remember when you needed three caps of speed to get out of bed?” probably wouldn’t have helped Ms. Clinton’s chances.

But the bee’s knees is “Bill Is Dead,” one of my favorite Mark E. Smith songs ever because it is simply unlike Mark E. Smith. It’s a ballad, and Smith delivers it without a hint of insincerity. And the words, “I am renewed, I am aglow” and “This is the greatest time in my life” rank as one of Smith’s most sweet. But if you listen closely, Smith throws out a naughty “came twice, you thrice” in what is otherwise a surprisingly straight-ahead love song.

The rest of Extricate falls together wonderfully and it brims with enough confidence that you’re sure the new decade will be Smith’s for the taking. It also shows anyone who may have felt his ex-wife Brix would be an irreplaceable muse that The Fall is clearly Mark’s vehicle.

Extricate is overlooked because there are so many examples of Mark E. Smith’s resilience within his catalog, but it’s probably the first one where he actually intended that message to be heard.

I hear you, telephone thing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joe Walsh - The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

What I’m about to tell you requires some faith.

You see, there’s over thirty-years of bad creative decisions in Joe Walsh’s baggage. And if “bad creative decisions” is too harsh a word, then feel free to replace it with “lazy,” “dumb-down,” or “I fuckin’ hate the Eagles, man!”

Let me try to convince you to take a look at Walsh’s earlier work, not just with my beloved James Gang, but also in Joe’s first forays into solo work. I think it’s his lackluster later efforts, and yes, his involvement with the Eagles that cause us to overlook those early records.

The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get was a solo album by name only, as the performers with Joe were under the impression that they’d get equal billing as a band unit-Barnstormer-but before its release, the album would be presented under the Walsh banner.

As a result, this is the only Walsh solo album that incorporates a wider pallet of genres to work with. Thanks to his equal footing peers, The Smoker You Drink shows Walsh rising to the challenge of his talented bandmates. His guitar work was heightened, his lyrics compelling, and his decision to leave a perfectly good James Gang seemed sound.

The album is best known for its opener, “Rocky Mountain Way,” an ode to his new abode-a mountain community that was closer to his friend and producer Bill Szymczyk. Walsh’s power chords are epic, but it’s his talkbox solo that seals this track into the upper echelon of rock cuts.

It also means that the rest of the album suffers from such a strong opener in the sense that, even though they’re really good, they’re nowhere near the level of “Rocky Mountain Way.”

They avoid trying to compete with it and instead focus on the aforementioned pallet cleanse by incorporating things like progressive (“Days Gone By”), folk (“Happy Ways”) and even a bit of Beatlemania (“Meadows” “Book Ends”) into their repertoire.

It’s marvelous, and it’s unfortunately overlooked.

My dad had this on 8 track when I was a kid. The tape broke-as most 8-tracks eventually do-and it was never replaced until I purchased it recently. It’d been well over three decades since I’ve heard this record, but the moment I re-examined it was the moment that all of Walsh’s bad decisions since that album fell away into sudden tolerance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Corroncho - Corroncho

Admittedly, I’m no expert or authority on salsa music, Cumbia, or any other kind of Latin music-so take everything I say with a grain of salt and a shot of Tequila.

Corroncho is an album/collaboration between Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and Columbian artist/sculptor Lucho Brieva. They began taking shape after working with Chrissie Hynde on the Spanish version of her song “Complicada.” The two men began a working relationship between 2003 – 2008 and that material is now presented n Corroncho.

The record breezes through several different genres with guests like Hynde, Robert Wyatt, Annie Lennox, and a bunch of other players that I’m too lazy to look up. And while the genres may not always follow a Latin path, all of the songs presented are sung or spoken in Spanish with Manzanera providing flawless production and performances underneath.

It’s presented as a loosely knit concept album that I cannot adequately explain or translate. It’s described as songs about two corroncho characters, which I learned was a derogatory term in Columbia, so if this offends, blame the two parties involved please.

Corroncho is a pleasing effort, if nothing more than of a background flavor for adult cotemporary aficionados and timid world music explorers. There’s very little not to like, to be honest, but very little to remember too.

Yes, there are moments of Roxy Music that can be found and yes, Manzanera shines as a wonderfully understated and versatile player, but those seeking out something revelatory about the guitarist or looking for an introduction to Brieva’s other artistic endeavors, Corroncho remains as a nothing more than a lite background pleasantry.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Kinks - Give The People What They Want

By 1980, the Kinks were entering their third decade with a nice arena-size following and the obligatory arena rock posturing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; the Kinks provided a nice, credible contribution to the endless parade of Kansas, Styx, Journey, and any other one-named rock staple next to them on the radio.

You would think that a cynical English coot like Ray Davies would rally against such trappings, and the straightjackets began to appear right around the live album One For The Road. On it, the familiar chords of “You Really Got Me” begin before abruptly stopping. “We’re not going to play that one tonight.” Jokes Davies, only before returning to the iconic song, rushing through the proceedings like the punk rockers he inspired.

But no matter how fast the Kinks may have played the song, they were still the same tunes underneath at all. Davies knew that he was shackled to them for life and the feeling of being a servant to the audience prompted 1981’s Give The People What They Want.

G.T.P.W.T.W. is horrifically marred by dated production, but otherwise it stands as a fine moment in a worthy catalog. The drums sound awful, the vocals are way up while the guitars are neutered farther down in the mix than they should be, considering the defiant tone of Davies’ pointed scorn.

Ray reminisces about the soon-to-be-extinct rock dj right out of the gate, but before the album is through, he has hit on dirty old perverts in the park, murderers, wife beaters, and President Kennedy’s brains exploding out of his head.

It’s tough going on the title track where Davies seemingly thinks that playing “All Day And All Of The Night” is the equivalent to a President getting assassinated, but when he adds the actual guitar riff from that song to the newly penned “Destroyer,” it’s darn near brilliant.

“Met a girl called Lola and I took her back to my place” Davies utters on the opening line, hitting yet another of his legendary characters to this perfectly realized radio friendly tune.

And after a half-hour of the album’s up and down consistency, Davies drops “Better Things,” a wonderfully positive ode that ranks right up with some of his best work. It sets the stage for what should have been an impressive decade of favorites.

But for whatever reason, Give The People What They Want would not only be the band’s last gold record-it was also their last decent full-length effort creatively.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Axl Rose On That Metal Show

I’ve bagged on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, going so far as to state that it wouldn’t last beyond one season. It’s clunky, narrow in its approach and Eddie Trunk’s comedic co-hosts are far from funny.

It’s still guilty of all of those things, but can now claim to be a fan, if only because I can’t name a single television show that devotes as much face time interviewing rock artists. Sure, many of those artists are well beyond their relevance in terms of a modern standpoint, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick at watching Tony Iommi talk about Sabbath or Graham Bonnet talking about whatever the fuck he’s been doing since his only album with the Michael Schenker Group, Assault Attack.

The fact that That Metal Show managed to snag W. Axl Rose for the opening show for whatever season they’re on now, is pretty big news for Eddie and his crew. Unfortunately, the elusive Rose didn’t reveal too much about himself, offering bits about his life but bookending it with meaningless responses and unfunny stories.

We learned that his relationship with bassist Tommy Stinson is strong, and it’s obvious that he’s closest with him than he is with other members of the band. We learned that his previous bouts with tardiness-at least the times during the original G ‘n R days, were part of some passive-aggressive attempt to exert power over the band members and management people who kept him and the band on the road in order to keep the machinery greased.

But what we didn’t learn is why it still happens. Axl’s 50 years old now. He’s not accountable to anyone, meaning that he has the ability to book as many or as little shows as he wants to. There’s no chance that he’ll ever find himself onstage because someone else told him to.

Trunk’s pointed question to him about his problem with showing up on time only tripped up Axl to the point where he half-heartedly admitted that his tardiness goes all the way back to his days in Indiana before throwing everyone else under the bus. “It’s like people get hit by ADD.” He explained. But I fail to see how this works as a legitimate answer since the set list probably hasn’t changed much in over a decade.

Axl’s been ridiculed for his appearance lately-the extra pounds more noticeable as he’s gotten older-but he’d like you to believe that he’s done some cardio “when I can” in preparation for the G ‘n R tour.

Nobody asked about the real Guns ‘n Roses reuniting and I’m betting that was part of the deal.

The entire interview was slapped together and taped about 6:00am, which is hilarious because one of the Guns’ guitarists is also in the band Sixx A.M. I think I saw this guitarist, DJ Ashba, sitting next to Axl, but nobody said shit to him, which is perfect as Ashba, doesn’t know when to shut up and is always selling himself and his swag. Even after all of that self-promotion, 9 out of 10 people have no idea who he is.

To fill up the time, the first half of the show is devoted to getting ready for and just waiting for show up and give half-assed responses to three nutswingers who sound more like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney instead of real interviewers who have legitimate questions to ask.

The worst was Don Jamieson who’s tongue was so far up Axl’s asshole that I believe he actually asked questions about Chinese Democracy.

Thankfully, Trunk was there to salvage some of the conversation, that is, when he wasn’t gushing about the last time he interviewed Axl on his radio show, thanks to a little help from Sebastian Bach.

But for all the hype about this coup of an interview, there was little to be excited about. It merely reflected what has come to be a That Metal Show tradition: providing tolerable coverage of hard rock artists with the show’s monopoly on such interests being its only redeeming value.

Sure, the boys at That Metal Show might have served up some softballs for Axl to swing at in order for him to consider another stop, but it gave viewers no reasons to get excited over that possibility.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu

The pairing is so unusual that one is inclined to immediately react with “Wha?” followed by a gut-checked “It’s gonna suck.”

And after listening to Lulu, I would encourage everyone to listen to their impulse reaction.

I’m curious to hear the responses of people who are admitted fans of this record, true loyalists who find some redeeming value to this project, beyond the canned responses that I’ve been hearing all along. Sure, the making of Lulu may have indeed been a liberating experience for the members of Metallica, but how liberating is it for fans of either artist who already view each new release with a distrusting eye?

Because ultimately, Lulu will have to be defended by them and they should be prepared for a long, arduous journey.

The entire idea of matching Lou Reed with Metallica doesn't make sense. The band is not known for rubbing shoulders with the avant-garde while Reed isn't exactly known for running around in thrash circles.

To be polite, the two sound as uncomfortable together on tape as they do in your mind.

At one point during “Pumping Blood,” the band repeats a monotonous guitar figure while Reed barks out the song title, occasionally breaking out into what appear to be verses. One example during the song finds Lou spitting “Waggle my ass like a dog prostitute coagulating heart…Pumping blood...C’mon James!”

He’s encouraging Hetfield because the song-as does most of the album-plods along like a lazy rehearsal. No interesting riffs arrive and Lars Ulrich tentatively drums the whole mess into nothing. There’s huge holes in some of his parts suggesting that he could have been replaced by Mo Tucker and Lulu would have least sounded rhythmically appealing.

There are no solos for Kirk Hammett in Lulu and I could hear no evidence that he wanted to get his feet wet with any real weirdness to break up the endless parade of jug-jug-jugs and big chord bridges. At some points, and I don’t know if it’s James or Kirk playing, you can hear someone pick up an acoustic guitar and start playing like they have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing.

And if you turn the volume up as loud as you can on Lulu, you may be able to hear the voice of bassist Robert Trujillo muttering under his breath “What the fuck am I doing here? I wonder if I can get my gig with Suicidal Tendencies back?”

There’s something going on with Reed’s mouth too, and you can hear it throughout the record. I mean, if you’re intending for Lulu to be powerful, provocative, right?! He sounds like an old man with a lazy drawl. Hard consonants are a challenge for Lou and when he musters enough strength to scream, it sounds as though he’s merely shaking free a bunch of mucus in the back of his throat. “I want so much to hurtcha!” he threatens on “Frustration” with about as much menace as a grandpa trying to figure out how to work the remote.

There are moments where you can audibly hear Lou breathing through his nose, further suggesting the grandpa factor.

But the ground zero of shittyness is the lyrics that Reed attempts to spew out. He’s prominent in the mix, giving listeners a good glimpse of his parade of crap. There are moments when you’re jaw will drop in shock (“You’re more man than I/To be dead to have no feeling/To be dry and spermless/Like a girl/Like a girl!”). There are moments when your mouth will just be agape while your head shakes in disbelief (“The taste of your vulva…and everything on it!”). And there are moments where you’ll just blurt out in laughter (“The female dog don’t care what you got/As long as you can raise that little doggie face/To a cold-hearted pussy”).

It sounds like an improvisational affair, a project initiated on a whim while becoming a permanent artifact will be remembered as nothing more than a “What the fuck?!” moment. Generations will ponder it, and you may even find a few weirdoes in the corner that will defend this moment.

Ignore them. There’s nothing remotely redeeming here.

Lulu is something that may have indeed been something therapeutic for those involved, and it may even hold a special place in their heart. But that doesn’t mean it should have been offered a legitimate release date. It’s something that should have left to the vaults, a curio whose legend grows from its own silence.

Unfortunately, it’s here. It’s real. And it’s awful.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Friday, November 11, 2011

These Go To Eleven: Black Sabbath Reunites!

Your dreams have been fulfilled:

I could care less about the new album, and even those who claim they're excited probably won't listen to it at all after 2012.

I'm not suggesting that it won't be any good-The Devil You Knowproved to me that the musical dynamic of Sabbath can be heavier than anything Iommi and Geezer Butler have done since the original Sab-but there's nothing that they can produce that will get people reaching for it more than Paranoid or Masters.

But there is a good chance.

1.) The Sharon Factor-If there's one person that could fuck this thing up more than anything, it's Sharon Osbourne. There could be issues with money. Just suppose she's concocted a lame deal for anyone other than Ozzy-which is highly probable-and one of the other members decide at the last moment that they don't particularly like the manner in which Ozzy is getting larger sums of cash. Like I said: I'm betting that this is already taking place, but whatever "crumbs" they are doling out to the rest of the band is head and shoulders more than what they've ever made before. The other concern with Sharon is how she's going to impact the song selection, the commercialization of the new album, the interaction between members...I mean, this could all go terribly wrong if she doesn't allow Ozzy to cohabitate with his old bandmates somewhat. If it's separate buses, separate dressing rooms, and separate riders, then this will feel less like a reunion and more like a money grab on the most superficial level. Fear Mrs. Osbourne because she could give two shits about how great Black Sabbath could be musically, she only cares about how great Black Sabbath could be to her purse.

2.) Ozzy-Even on the television show, he looked frighteningly fragile. There's a feeling that his rebellion is now limited to photo shoots and studio trickery. My wife likes to tell the story of how he would shuffle around the stage when she last saw him live...and that was 10 years ago. If there's anything left from a live performance standpoint, let me know-seriously-because the idea of Ozzy shuffling around like a grandfather who's Rascal scooter is in the shop while barking through "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" scares me more than the Speak Of The Devil version of "Iron Man." Is his vocal range gone? Because the last time I heard Ozzy was through the aid of some studio tricks, not to mention that I could barely understand him whenever he spoke.

3.) Bill Ward-I've spoken about this before, so I won't go into too much detail about Bill's health. But let's be honest, Bill was a madman during those early years, the ones where you saw this bearded wild man on the drum riser, beating the shit out of his instrument and thundering out a slow 4/4 rhythm for Tony to crunch craniums to. I hope he's working out. Not from a relationship perspective, but from a treadmill one.

4.) Rick Rubin-I do believe that there was a time when the name Rick Rubin on the album credits meant something. I also believe that he started to believe that himself. The reality is that Rick Rubin has not had the best track record post-2000, and some of his executive "producer" roles have been nothing more than that of an editor and sequencer. He may be able to pick the best songs, but I'm not entirely convinced that he's able to get the best performance. For the Sabbath reunion, he Tweeted "When I've sat with them and they've played it sounds remarkably like Black Sabbath. As long as it sounds like that." No shit, Sherlock. Who else would they sound like?

5.) The New Album-What if it does suck? What if Rubin gets vetoed by Sharon and we get an hour-long album that rivals the shittiness of Never Say Die!. What if their songwriting skills haven't improved after 33 years? One of the things that I enjoyed most about Dio reuniting with Sabbath was how Ronnie brought some really great songs to the table for the ocassion. What if Ozzy can't do that or what if he's too lazy to? Personally, I don't think they can get any worse from Never Say Die!, but there's not a chance it will be better than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath which wasn't that good to begin with.

The fact that there's at least five points of worry with this whole thing, I need to come clean an admit that none of it will be enough to get me NOT to consider getting tickets to a show. This band is the big bang of heavy fucking metal, and the decision to announce this reunion on 11.11.11 is a bit demeaning to the genre as a whole. I mean, I get it, it's cute and I'm all about watching Spinal Tap for the millionth time (I will, later on tonight, rest assured). But to use Nigel Tufnel's "one louder" reference as the backdrop for this announcement that I've been waiting in anticipation for years shows me that they're not taking the genre that they built the foundation for, all that serious.

Here's a clip from their first reunion over 10 years ago. Check out how awesome Geezer is! Check out that awesome solo Tony gives! Check out how Bill looks like he's having a heart-attack on his close up shot towards the end! And more importantly, check out how many chicks lift up their shirts!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Shearwater Album and Tour Dates

I just peed my pants.

There's a new Shearwater album coming out in February of next year.

The press release is below and there's a spiel by Gerard Cosloy afterwards.

I talked to him on the phone once when he was at Homestead Records.

He was a real asshole to me and I've held a gruge ever since.

The following was written by Sub Pop:

Shearwater Announces New Record Animal Joy
Out February 14, 2012 On Sub Pop Records

On February 14, 2012 Shearwater will release their Sub Pop debut Animal Joy. The band will embark on a 13 date North American tour opening for Sharon Van Etten beginning on February 2nd.

See below for a full list of dates and more information on the bands upcoming release.

Shearwater Tour Dates with Sharon Van Etten:

2/10/2012 Philadelphia PA Johnny Brenda's
2/11/2012 Washington DC Black Cat
2/12/2012 Carrboro NC Cat's Cradle
2/14/2012 Columbus OH Wexner Center
2/15/2012 Newport KY The Southgate House
2/16/2012 Chicago IL Lincoln Hall
2/17/2012 Chicago IL Lincoln Hall
2/18/2012 Minneapolis MN Cedar Cultural Centre
2/21/2012 Toronto ON Lee's Palace
2/22/2012 Montreal QC Il Motore
2/23/2012 Boston MA Paradise
2/24/2012 Brooklyn NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
2/25/2012 New York NY Bowery Ballroom

About Shearwater:

It's been suggested—by fans, detractors, even by the band's founder—that Shearwater and whatever we call underground/indie/whatever-rock in this part of the century are not an obvious fit. And that's true. So much of what we hear these days (the lousy stuff, anyway) is willfully insular; Jonathan Meiburg's songs, by contrast, have constantly tackled bigger questions and been propelled by massive musical ambitions.

We're in an era in which minimalism and lower-than-low-tech have come in vogue. By contrast, Shearwater's recordings—the epic “Island Arc” trilogy of Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago in particular—have been expansive (some might say bombastic) in a fashion like none of their contemporaries. Meiburg—presumably unfamiliar with the adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"—has opted to ditch an approach that paid huge artistic dividends over his last three Matador albums for a record that seems shockingly direct, immediate and intensely personal. He's no stranger to lush, crafted recordings, but this one sounds like no prior Shearwater incarnation. And please, don't mistake that for a suggestion this is anyone's notion of a traditional, singer-songwriter album. "Immaculate" and "Breaking the Yearlings" are inventive and confident in a manner that would humble most new artists, let alone Shearwater's few veteran peers. "Insolence" is (take your pick) an unsparing bit of self-reflection or an evisceration of someone else; either way, the song covers a staggering amount of sonic territory in the space of six minutes plus. No disrespect whatsoever is intended to Meiburg's sometimes-Austin neighbors Spoon when I call "Believing Makes It Easy" a song that would rank amongst that band's finest had they come up with it instead.

Though it's possibly a wild projection to claim a few years of bouncing through various band lineups, record labels and places of residence have led to a radical reboot, I'm a big believer in citing circumstantial evidence and letting the jury figure it out for themselves. Someone's bound to label this Shearwater's transitional album, but to these ears, it sounds like a thrilling artistic rebirth. Just give 'em the fucking Grammy already!

—Gerard Cosloy, Austin, TX (November 2011)

More about Animal Joy:

Animal Joy was produced and recorded by Danny Reisch in Austin, Texas, and mixed by Peter Katis (The National, Interpol, Jonsi, Frightened Rabbit) in Bridgeport, Connecticut; sessions took place through most of 2011. The album was mastered by Greg Calbi in NYC.

Principal players were Jonathan Meiburg (vocals, guitar, and piano), Kimberly Burke (upright and electric bass) and Thor Harris (drums)—all members of Shearwater since 1999—along with guest performers Andy Stack (of Wye Oak) on guitar, keyboard, and saxophone, Scott Brackett on keyboards, Cully Symington on additional drums, Sam Lipman on clarinet, and Elaine Barber on harp. No strings or glockenspiels were touched during the making of this album.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Johnny & Dee Dee Ramone Pop! Rocks Figure

What we have here is probably the cutest little friggin' doll this side of Hello Kitty.

'Cept for punk rockers.

This is the kind of crap that I wished I received at work during those bullshit team gift exchange Christmas party. You know, where they reserve a fucking meeting room for an hour and have some kind of potluck where nobody wants to be responsible for the entree dish and everyone ends up giving out ornaments or some other crappy $5-$10 gift, but only the one who everyone hates ends up being the only sap adhering to the low end of that price range.

Now that I have that off my chest, take a look at the cuteness and the press release.

Together, legendary guitarist Johnny Ramone, and legendary punk-rock bassist Dee Dee Ramone created a wall of sound that defined the driving force of the Ramones. For the first time ever in their history making legacy, Johnny and Dee Dee have been rendered as vinyl figures.

Both of these stylized 3.75-inch tall vinyl figures come decked in traditional Ramones leather jackets, and armed with their weapons of choice, (guitar and bass respectively). They're detailed right down to Johnny's infamous frown, Dee Dee's enigmatic glare, and the matching shoulder chains that bookended them on stage while changing the face of rock 'n' roll.

To guarantee you'll have them to rock around the X-mas tree, order now at:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teach Your Children Well

You may think you’ll be the only influence on your child’s musical upbringing, but you’d be wrong.

First, you have to consider the musical time spent with the other parent. In my case, that means an unhealthy amount of Glee, to which I’ll counter with a bizarre helping of the Melvins.

So how can you ultimately defeat the influence of Glee when it’s the only version of “Thriller” that they know?

Normally, it doesn’t really matter, because who gives a fine fart if your kid learns the Glee version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” verses the Bonnie Tyler version.

But there are occasions in which it does. I got all bent out of shape once I learned that my kids had discovered “Don’t Stop Believin’” thanks to Glee when I thought it was sacrilege that they didn’t hear Steve Perry’s version first.

And yes, I don’t think that is any real incarnation of Journey that’s currently touring the fair circuit at the moment. A karaoke Journey does not make it an official line up.

There’s another influence afoot besides the questionable tastes of the significant other. The other influence is television, and to a lesser extent, movies.

My children dominate the television around these parts, to the point where even watching the World Series is a huge production. You’ll have my son who is into the entire Nickelodeon/Disney teen-fest thing hogging one set; you’ll have my daughter pining for a more age appropriate.

That means they’re exposed to an inordinate about of crap, so I get a bit startled when I hear something repeated that’s familiar with my own upbringing.

In the car yesterday, my son begins with “What I like about you, is that you know how to dance.” No matter if the words are wrong, my son will repeat them ad infinitum until they become the actual lyrics. And even if there is another verse somewhere, just ignore it and repeat what you know.

This morning, I could hear him getting dressed when suddenly the familiar question of “What is it good for?” was heard, immediately following a shout of “War!”

There was no “Absolutely nothing!”

No mention of the undertaker and no “Huah!” or “Good god!”

Just five minutes of “War! What is it good for?” repeated over and over again.

Which leads the entire thing into my brain where it sits, stirs, and remains on repeat even after the chant stops after he gets fully dressed.

I grab my IPod and search.

There is no Edwin Starr.

There isn’t even a Bruce Springsteen version.

Thank God for Frankie Goes to Hollywood!

What that means is for a few minutes, he has to endure a Ronald Reagan impersonator dish out the following hodgepodge of quotes before he can even get to the “What is it good for?” part.

Man has a sense for the discovery of beauty. How rich is the world for one who makes you for us to show. Beauty must have power over man…

After the end of the war I want to devote myself to my thoughts for five to ten years and to writing them down…

Wars come and go what remains are only the values of culture…

Then of course there is revolutionary love. Love of comrades fighting for the people and love of people. Not an abstract people but people one meets and works with. When Cheduvarat taught of Love being at the center of revolutionary endeavor, he meant both. For people like Che or George Jackson or Malcolm X Love was the prime mover of their struggle. That love cost them their lives. Love, coupled with a man’s pride

My son had no idea what all of the heaviness was all about.

Yes, even when you think you’re taking the high road in your child’s musical upbringing, you can be assured of some blame in a few of the more embarrassing entries.