Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Louvin Brothers - Satan Is Real

Walking to the vinyl section of the Record Collector, a strange cover caught my eye.

It was a picture of two men dressed in white, standing on fiery rocks with a very silly looking picture of the devil behind them. Without hesitation, the storeowner gave firm praise for what could be found within the sealed vinyl reissue of The Louvin Brothers Satan Is Real. From that recommendation-along with the sheer awesomeness of the cover you see pictured-I made an impulse purchase.

You don’t have to believe in God to appreciate The Louvin Brothers’ Satan Is Real, but you may find yourself in the midst of the Holy Spirit after listening to it. Ira and Charlie Louvin blend together their glorious harmonies with such beauty that you’ll be sure their gifts do indeed originate from a higher power.

The country arrangements behind them are barren and steady, giving a wide birth for the Louvin’s immaculate vocals to blend over everything on tape. The results are not only magnificent, they can be downright creepy at times.

The title track sets pace for the records’ twelve tracks, and it even includes a bit of Baptist fire and brimstone towards the end with a testimony advising all listeners that, if God is real, then Satan should be considered just as factual.

There is no doubt that Charlie and Ira believe every word they are singing, thanks to an upbringing in Southern Alabama that valued the gospel as much as a hard days work. It’s noted in the extensive liner notes that most of the Louvin clan had gifted voices, but while their younger sisters were married and pregnant by the age of eighteen, only Charlie and Ira took music seriously enough to make it into a career.

Satan Is Real contains “The Christian Life,” probably best known from The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, so if you’re a fan of that record, here’s the indispensible original.

“There’s A Higher Power,” a Louvin brothers original, is also top notch, but the song that nearly brought me to tears is the last cut, “I’m Ready To Go Home.” Ira delivers such a gut-wrenching high harmony on it that you’d have to have a deal with the devil not to be impacted by the song’s beauty.

The story behind the iconic album cover is included, but what’s telling is what the cover implies. If you’ll notice, the cutout of Satan features him holding a pitchfork and the end of that pitchfork is pointed directly at Ira Louvin.

Throughout the years, the brothers were always on the road, to the point where Ira started to drink and become erratic. Charlie was much more stable about the stresses of the road, but could not take much more of his brother’s behavior. He finally agreed that parting was probably the best for both of them, and by the end of 1963 the two had parted ways.

In 1965, Ira-still touring, but with a new band-was killed in a horrific head-on collision on a county road in Missouri. There was an outstanding warrant on him for a drunk driving conviction that he failed to settle. The irony was that the person who caused the accident was also drunk, making the Louvin brothers song “Wreck On The Highway” just a tad too prophetic.

There’s more: the spur of the moment purchase of Satan Is Real comes almost a year to the day after Charlie’s passing from cancer last year.

Clearly, there was not only a knowledgeable record store owner at hand for making this recommendation, but also a higher power that pointed me in the direction of this essential recording.

God is indeed good.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Riot Guitarist Mark Reale Passes Away While I Become Fixated By An Albino Seal

A few weeks ago, That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk referred to a band that I had never heard before, Riot. I take what Trunk says with a grain of salt. He is impossibly good at worthless trivia, but his taste in music occasionally dips into helpless nutswinging, particularly when he’s praising the work of bands still working the circuit with one or two original members, still hashing out roadwork well past their prime.

He went on to call Riot’s sophomore effort an overlooked classic, indicating that he had done some liner notes for that record’s re-issue, Fire Down Under.

I began doing some research on the band, the results of which may come out in a review from me later, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the album art of Fire Down Under and the inclusion of-well we’ll just call him a creature-that appears on the cover of it and on several of their records thereafter.

If Iron Maiden had “Eddie,” then Riot had a similar spokesmodel. I don’t know the name of it, all I know is that it’s both bizarre and hilarious at the same time. I’m guessing it’s some kind of seal creature.

For me, a white albino seal is the farthest fucking thing from “metal,” and its inclusion had me laughing in tears at the sight of it. And to include the same creature on other albums meant that the members of Riot were dead serious about this freaky thing legitimately becoming their mascot.

Now, the Iron Maiden comparison is no joke, and it goes beyond the half-hearted similarities of their respective mascots. A few You Tube samples proved that this metal band from New York was dead serious at replicating their own version of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and I’ll be goddamned that they were pretty good at their facimiles.

I need to hear more about this band, so feel free to use the comment section to fill me in on this new discovery.

Meanwhile, in a bit of weird synchronicity, the founding member of Riot, guitarist Mark Reale, just died yesterday while he and Riot were rehearsing for a date in Dallas. Reale had Crohn’s Diesease for most of his life, and found himself being rushed to a hospital from complications from the disease. How this translated into the subarachnoid hemorrhage that he died from is a mystery to me and it blows my mind that I am now just discovering this underrated band for the first time.

Eddie Trunk was right it seems, and I wonder if his extensive trivia knowledge can help explain how Riot came to create the half man/half albino seal creature as their mascot.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lonely Forest Give Arrows The Wax Treatment And Embark On Tour

No Iowa dates. Bummer. There's nothing better in winter than hot pop wax.

Speaking of:

"The Lonely Forest will head out with Portugal. The Man on a nationwide tour this Spring. The 5-week outing will take them to both coasts, with stops in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and more. The band is riding on the success of their latest album Arrows, and new single "Go Outside" is heating up at radio, with Sirius "Alt Nation" leading the way. Arrows will also be released on vinyl for the first time next Tuesday, on January 31.

Arrows has received overwhelming acclaim since its release on Trans Records/Atlantic Records. NPR calls it "one of the best and most honest slices of pop music around," and the accolades continue to come in from the likes of SPIN, New York Magazine, Nylon, Teen Vogue, Alternative Press, Paste, and was featured on several year-end lists including NPR, Amazon and more. The band made their national television debut August 2 on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, performing "We Sing In Time" and "Go Outside." Additionally, Arrows was in the Top 10 most added at CMJ upon its release, and the first single, "We Sing In Time" has proven to be a smash hit at the band's hometown station, 107.7 The End, in Seattle.

The Lonely Forest spent most of 2011 on the road, including outings with Death Cab For Cutie, The Joy Formidable, Two Door Cinema Club and Minus the Bear as well as a show-stopping set at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival, which saw them playing to thousands of people on the festival's main stage.

A music video for the song "We Sing In Time" premiered earlier this summer on MTVU. MTV's Buzzworthy Blog calls it "a powerful, visually striking work that'll scare and sadden." View that here:

Trans Records is the new label headed by Chris Walla, guitarist and producer for Grammy-nominated rock band Death Cab for Cutie, who found The Lonely Forest's music so compelling he made the band his label's very first signing. Walla produced and engineered Arrowsat Sound City studio in Los Angeles, Tiny Telephone in San Francisco and his own, Portland-based studio, Alberta Court. The balance of the album was mixed by John Goodmanson (Girls, Nada Surf, Weezer).

"The Lonely Forest proves to me," says Walla, "In a time full of throwbacks and references and meta-references, that nothing can beat a focused, bulletproof guitar rock band with amazing songs. I didn't start a label for nothing."

Hailing from Anacortes, WA - a small island town on Puget Sound - The Lonely Forest has risen to national recognition after years spent building a loyal following throughout the Northwest. The Lonely Forest is singer/guitarist/keyboardist John Van Deusen, guitarist Tony Ruland, drummer Braydn Krueger and bassist Eric Sturgeon.


w/ Portugal. The Man

4/03/12 - Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
4/04/12 - Las Vegas, NV @ Club Veil
4/06/12 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
4/09/12 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
4/10/12 - Gainesville, FL @ Florida Theater of Gainesville

4/11/12 - Tampa, FL @ The Ritz Ybor
4/12/12 - Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
4/14/12 - Athens, GA @ The Georgia Theatre
4/15/12 - Lexington, KY @ Busters
4/16/12 - Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
4/17/12 - Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
4/19/12 - Baltimore, MD @ Ram's Head Live
4/20/12 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
4/21/12 - Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
4/22/12 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
4/24/12 - Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
4/25/12 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
4/26/12 - Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
4/29/12 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
4/30/12 - Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club
5/02/12 - Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
5/03/12 - Flagstaff, AZ @ The Orpheum Theater
5/04/12 - Pomona, CA @ Fox Theater
5/05/12 - San Diego, CA @ 4th and B
5/06/12 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent

Arrows on vinyl is available for pre-order now at The Lonely Forest Webstore

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Dinosaur Jr. Live DVD and J. Mascis Throbblehead

J. looks totally awesome with his white hair and full-on beard, and when you throw a full on rendition of Bug to boot, this is bound to be a safe purchase.

Dinosaur Jr. released at least two essential albums-Bug being one of them-and a few others that I still find to be required listening. And to think all of that power comes from an unassuming fellow who speaks like a frail, old man.

And I didn’t forget about the J. Mascis Throbblehead either:

"In addition to the In the Hands of the Fans project J Mascis has joined the ranks of the Aggronautix Throbblehead elite.

This figure is limited to 1000 numbered units, stands at 7 inches tall, and is made of a lightweight polyresin.

J is accurately sculpted right down to the big ole glasses, rockin' riff grip, and signature silver mane that features REAL DOLL HAIR -- a first for Aggronautix! Pick up this highly influential (and potentially face melting) figure today!"

How about that! Made with real doll hair!

It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day give for the one you love.

‘Cause when I need a friend it’s still you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Steam Is Always Fire

Back home, we'd call them "coneys."

Cinderella just calls 'em a paycheck.

True story: My Mom managed a womens clothing store for many years, which required her to work let a few nights a week. One of those nights was Tuesday, which meant my old man had to cook dinner for me and him. Both of my parents are now officially "foodies" and their cooking ability has improved dramatically over the years.

But back in the 70's and 80's, not so much.

My Father would ocassionally turn to the local A&W Restaurant for help on Tuesday with their "Coney Tuesday" promotion. Since A&W is a dying breed, let me explain to our younger readers and international customers that it was a drive-in restaurant where you literally drove up to a screen, pressed a button, and someone started talking through a little speaker, asking you what you wanted to eat.

This is before the days of the "drive thru," which is the same idea (get food without leaving your car) but in a much more efficient manner.

A&W served fast foot, but they're best known for their root beer, which is admittedly pretty awesome. They'd brew the shit right there at the restaurant.

Anywho, "Coney Tuesday" offered coney dogs-known as a chili dog if you're Cinderella-for the unbelievable price of 39 cents. Over the years, that price increased somewhat, but you get the idea: it was like "Taco Tuesday" at Taco John's, but with hot dogs.

How was it? About as good as a 39 cent coney dog could be. You're not eating it for how good it is, you're eating it because it's fucking cheap and you don't feel hungry afterwards.

You just feel like you have to take a massive shit.

Kinda like you did after hearing Night Songs.

Thanks to Brad Company for the heads up and the website Metal Insider for finding it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

James Gang - Thirds

My old man had this on 8-track.

It was me that played the piss out of it until the tape broke.

No more James Gang Thirds until my mother in law bought it for me as a Christmas gift last year.

What can I say? I’m blessed.

The third and final studio album featuring Joe Walsh on vocals finds Cleveland, Ohio’s favorite sons bashing out the same groove-laden rock music as the previous two. And even if the band only managed the greatness of the opener “Walk Away,” then they still would be remembered fondly in the annals of rock’s greatest tunes.

It takes a left turn with the next track-“Yadig?”-an instrumental that still keeps a slow, jazzy groove complete with vibes and a Hammond B-3 organ before Walsh steps in with a tasty lead from his Les Paul.

You get the sense that the band is starting to peter out a bit with the inclusion of songs written by the other band members that weren’t named “Joe.” Bassist Dale Peters and drummer Jim Fox ain’t slouches with Peters whipping out some amazing bass work for Fox’s “Things I Could Be” and Jimmy returning the favor with a tack piano on Dale’s country-flavored “Dreamin’ In The Country.”

Side two starts with some swell Walsh guitar tones on “Midnight Man,” but it, like the rest of the side, begins showings some chinks in the James Gang armor-the result of constant touring as the band’s liner notes suggest.

James Gang would end their Walsh years with a more appropriate live record, one that more effectively captures the band’s epic grove and huge crunch than Thirds ends up providing.

The only other complaint is that they misspelled Evel Knievel’s name in the thank you section, which is-in reality-a laugh riot as it heaps nods to such people as Joe Garagiola, Monte Hall, and someone named “Emil Nitrate.”

This and “Walk Away” may be worth the price of admission alone.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ozzy Admits: Tastes Like Chicken!

One of the most metal moments in rock history occurred thirty years ago in my home state of Iowa.

Tonight is the night that Ozzy Osbourne tasted a bat, which means that early in the morning of January 21st, he also enjoyed a series of rabies shots that I hear are very painful.

You don’t know how proud I am that someone in Iowa metal community felt the need to find a dead bat and think, “You know who’d like this? Ozzy Osbourne!” The reaction was so strong that this person placed a rotting rodent in their pocket and brought it to Osbourne’s concert in Des Moines, throwing the dead animal on stage at some point during the performance.

From there, Ozzy noticed it and thought-in either a moment of comedic intent or in some kind of drunken prank-that he needed to place it in his mouth to try to rip the head off it.

He claims he thought it was a rubber, toy bat. But having fielded a few bats that have entered into houses that I’ve lived in, I can say with familiarity that a toy rubber bat looks and feels nothing like a real one, dead or alive and squeaking.

I’m going to chalk a big part of Ozzy’s choice to the booze.

Whatever the case, it pleases me to no end that all of this transpired in the Hawkeye state 30 years ago tonight!

A Moment For Miss Peaches

The first mistake Barack Obama made during his first term as President of the United States is not invite Etta James to sing her signature song “At Last” during the Inaugural Ball.



Miss Peaches was right to get her panties in a bunch and lash out at the President’s ears for the slight. She attacked him on a personal level because “At Last” was performed on a personal level; each swell of her voice and every note that it carried sounded like it came more from her heart than her diaphragm. It was an incredible instrument, and no sister come lately could effectively mirror Etta’s version.

Even when it was four decades removed.

I used to work at Iowa’s biggest public radio station, K.U.N.I., during my final two years of college and I can’t ignore how important that job was to my musical upbringing. It required me to go back to the masters, particularly during my weeknight music block where my old instructions were to play the blues between the hours of 8pm-9pm.

The station’s library had just received a large assortment of Chess records as their (then) parent company just undertook a large remastering effort of a bunch of their classic catalog titles.

Two of the titles caught my eye, particularly the eye-popping platinum blonde look of her At Last! long player.

But it was Tell Mama that caught my ears. I must have played that title track like a top forty smash for a while on my show. I was discovering what some people had already known for decades, that this Etta James lady was a badass, a probably deserving of such reverence that radio stations across the country should play at least one tune per night just to honor her greatness.

Soon after, James released a comeback album, Seven Year Itch, which was a fine representation of why Peaches was such a national treasure.

I didn’t even know she was sick. In fact, some of those from the hip comments towards Obama were later to be revealed as nothing more than side-effects of the medications that her illness required her to take.

It blows my mind that her passing coincides with the passing of Johnny Otis, the man that discovered her in the mid-50’s. Two giants from the early days of rock and soul walking in tandem to what’s becoming-unfortunately for those of us still here-a pretty awesome array of performers who changed the face of music.

And none of them came sweeter than this peach from Southern California.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Map Of The World - An Inch Equals A Thousand Miles

A long forgotten quintet from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Map Of The World swindled one six-song e.p. from Atlantic records at the tail end of 1989 before being unceremoniously dropped by the label the following year.

Which is kind of a bummer since that aforementioned e.p., An Inch Equals A Thousand Miles sounds like a stone cold winner, hinting at a band with that certain amount of potential that major labels used to hold on to until their credit ran out and all of their recorded output became the property of W.E.A.

To be honest, I can only assume that M.O.T.W. ran into the same cliched bullshit with Atlantic, but I'm assuming the worse because barely a peep was heard from these nifty pop rockers after this release.

There is a bit of resemblance to 10,000 Maniacs had Natalie Merchant stayed in the garage instead of basking in Don Dixon’s sheen. Vocalist Sophia Hanifi can belt out a mean tune, even if that tune was penned with the obtuse outlook of her big brother Khalid.

He also brings a rougher edge to the mix, particular with the stompy opener “The Wall Of Least Resistance.” Sister steps right up with track two, an amazingly epic “Impenetrable You,” the highlight of the short-stack that alternates from brooding mystery before it sucker punches you with its loud/soft dynamics.

And the hidden element in all of this is Donn Deniston’s wonderfully out of place drums. The tape operators have his thunder arms way up in the mix, beating the living shit out of anyone who dares to compare them to 10,000 Maniacs in their review of An Inch.

By skipping the “where are they now” category and moving straight to the conspiracy theorists who might claim brother and sister Hanifi have been abducted by tastemaking aliens, it’s good to know that at least Khalid continues making music as a solo artist in the Michigan thicket.

But what a ride he could have had if Map Of The World found success in their first major label effort. It would have been great if this e.p. was properly promoted by their big pocket bosses and if their wonderfully varied sound left to flourish in the possibilities presented in these fine half-dozen gems.

Since no videos of Map Of The World exist on You Tube, you'll have to take my word on this one. But feel free to check out a sample of what Khalid's been up to with this clip of a recent track from last year.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Heart Bad Brains

No wonder Jack Rabid named a magazine after this song.

I have no doubts after watching this video that seeing Bad Brains during this time period was the equivalent of a religious experience. My eyes immediately look for H.R. He’s on stage. Somewhere. And then he pounces. The anticipation was priceless. You get the sense that something could happen. And regardless of what happens, it is surely going to be a night to remember.

Friday, January 13, 2012

David, The Gorillas Are Knocking Your Door Down!

It used to be that concerts were dangerous.

Believe it or not, we read those articles where the cops were called to Black Flag shows. It wasn’t punk on punk fights, either. It was those hired to “serve and protect” the audience of a Black Flag show doing most of the violence.

With clubs.

With full impunity from the law.

And then there was side four of Everything Went Black, where we heard the completely amateurish radio spots including ones that poked sticks at the cops, teasing them with ads that noted their thuggish “protection” while giving the coordinates for the next Flag show.

“Let’s go down and beat up some of them damn punk rockers!”

There are a number of reasons why I didn’t go see Black Flag when they played Cedar Falls, Iowa in what would end up being their final tour. One of the reasons is that all of this notoriety got me scared of the possibilities.

Of course, when I moved to Cedar Falls, all of that sounded completely ridiculous. What I missed wasn’t a show filled with violence and cops. Firsthand accounts note that it was 1.) Very hot and sweaty and 2.) Very good.

I love hearing the antidotes of that show and I totally wished that I had made more of an effort in seeing it.

The video below is a perfect image to what I thought that show would be like.

Of course, Black Flag circa ’86 was nothing like that band.

They were road dogs, always on the road playing shows with complete disregard for how their audience perceived them. By then, they had moved beyond the punk straightjackets and found themselves in some weird jazz/metal world. It worked wonderfully live and not so much in the studio.

But I’ve got to confess that I totally dig Black Flag circa ’86 a whole lot better. The reason is because that band, this line-up, that album changed. My. Life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Documentary Of Black Flag's Final Tour

I'm posting this so that I can come back to it and watch it in its entirety.

Or before Greg Ginn goes and orders it be taken down.

It's a documentary called Reality 86'd, a first account of what would be Black Flag's final tour of the U.S.

Markley, who did Lovedolls Superstar and the awesome 1991: The Year Punk Broke, never was able to get this film to the light of day-some suggest Greg Ginn had something to do with that too-but the wonderful world of the intertubes has located a copy.

It appears to be pretty low-fi, but that's not going to stop me

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fucked Up - David Comes To Life

“Who can I trust?!” Damian Abraham screams repeatedly towards the end of “Life In Paper”, one of several great tracks found on Fucked Up’s latest record, David Comes To Life.

And you think to yourself “Who can I trust?”

Should I give trust to the bank who loaned me six figures to live in this house?

Will I trust this president for another four years after watching him ignore the issues that I thought he would address during his first term?

Can I trust this Facebook friend who I’ve never met in real life with information on my family as we try to keep the world appraised of our activities?

Would you trust me if I told you that Fucked Up have delivered the best (if only) punk rock opera since Husker Du mixed those very words together with Zen Arcade?

Do I even care if you listen? There’s so much static in this world anyway, so many people beating their opinion on top of you that I completely understand if you just ignored everything about this review and went along, content with whatever it is you’re comfortable with in your current catalog.

But I’m here to tell you that you’d be missing out on a really good punk rock band pushing themselves beyond whatever expectation they set for themselves, as well as going beyond whatever limitations their band name provides them.

Fucked Up takes a huge leap in nearly every aspect of their genre, becoming the first punk rock band in quite some time that understands how the formula in punk rock should be that there are no formulas. To do this, they’ve created a story arc about a fictional dude named David. They’ve done this primarily with the hopes that the listener doesn’t figure out that the story arc itself is just some lame smokescreen created with the hopes that we all don’t end up figuring out that the songs are really about them.

If you must: David works in a light bulb factory, falls in love with leftie chick who dies while building a bomb, disaster strikes and then things get murky. At the end of the day, it’s a record about relationships and if the brevity between us all suggests that we might be better off with our individual toils without all of the human drama. The music and continuous yell of Abraham give the record’s bluntness some added weight, suggesting that emphasis on how we treat each other during this time together.

While the vocals may sound like limited reflections, Abraham manages the unique feat of shoving a bunch of emotional content into those guttural projections. It depends on the topic, and by the time he’s set his sights on heavier matters like death itself, he scales back the angst and turns up the advice. He tells us to stand tall and reminds us that life doesn’t always mean you don’t have to dwell on what dreams you lost, but what you did before laying down your head.

Be proud that you lived “Not the life that you wanted” but focused on “the life that you led.” He adds that life really does mean experiencing it-ups and downs-and to not think that a quick shot from a cell phone doesn’t really mean you lived that moment because “the pictures we take don’t resolve, just reflect.”

How telling that the band is now considering an extended hiatus so that members can begin using some of these lessons in real life! It only proves that David Comes To Life could actually serve as inspiration to your own epiphany if you’re able to hear the message beneath the record’s wonderful cacophony.

Fucked Up - Couple Tracks

There’s nothing wrong with Fucked Up, but I’ll be damned if I can find anything great. The issue for me is-and has always been-that I immediately feel like a crotchety old geezer whenever I hear them. I’m compelled to remind those who champion them that there’s more out there.

It’s straight out of my past and it’s better.

This troubles me because hardcore punk is a young man’s game and-at its most basic-it should leave the listener feeling young, shouldn’t it? Perhaps age has skewed my perspective and maybe I would be better served by allowing the youth their moment.
The thing is, when I hear something like Husker Du’s “Real World,” I want to immediately tell people about how great it is. When I listen to any one of the songs on Couple Tracks-a compilation that spans the band’s singles and rare output for the past seven years-I immediately want to tell people that I’ve heard better.

Split between “the hard stuff” and “the fun stuff,” Couple Tracks follows no real chronological pattern. While the material presented couldn’t be considered as a good entry point for the novice, it’s the haphazard sequencing that will frustrate the completists that this compilation is geared for. I don’t know the reason why the band decided to spit single sides between the two discs, but I do know the chop-shop placement of the songs makes Couple Tracks title irrelevant and misleading.

All of this means nothing who will find this compilation as a great way to obtain a bit of this band’s prolific output. For anyone else who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Fucked Up’s recent pass through Rock Island for a Daytrotter session, or their holiday fist-pumper “David Christmas,” or any of their other two dozen rarities presented here, then The Chemistry of Common Life is a much more enjoyable place to begin.

What Couple Tracks does manage to affirm that Fucked Up must be one helluva ride live and they’re currently making strides to become as good as their historical counterparts. Again, a chronological track set would show just how much progress Fucked Up has made in their whirlwind career and compliment all of the positive press the band has received, seemingly just for following the blueprint that others have laid out for them.

Couple Tracks gives listeners a great glimpse of how Fucked Up are carrying the torch of hardcore to a younger audience, but to anyone who witnessed when the torch was lit, you’ll wonder why they can’t make the flame burn a bit brighter.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Friday, January 6, 2012

(No) Epiphany

Some words on the song that's been going through my head today, because it is the Epiphany.

We went to our annual Epiphany celebration of church, which means we would chalk over each doorway leading into church and eat bland casserole.

But for our kids, the draw is always the King cake, where pieces of cake are sliced up after the meal, pieces in which a small plastic baby have been strategically placed inside three of them.

If you find the baby, then you are one of the three people who have to make the cake for next year's Epiphany.

Our son found the baby last year, which meant we were in charge of one cake this year.

My wife actually made two cakes, which was good as nobody else that was supposed to make the cake did. I think that everyone thought we would bring all of the three cakes, but I won't bore you with the details of that drama.

The message to our children was very clear. Wait until the baby is found before you go up to get your piece of cake. In other words, let someone else make the fucking King cake next year.

But of course, you can't keep children from cake. Even when there is clear instructions given, the only thing they know is how many steps it takes to get to a piece of cake.

And within moments, our little 4 year old girl was licking pink frosting off the plastic baby Jesus she found in her cake.

The song "No Epiphany" immediately follows "Generations" on this crowd-shot video. It's poor quality, but there's a couple of ass shots for you to see.

NSFW, I guess, but then again, the band's name is Fucked Up, so no duh.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Iowa Caucus 2012

We’ve reached the end of this Iowa caucus season, and it’s weird sitting on the sidelines as a registered Democrat, watching the GOP make a circus out of their weak candidate pool.

As the caucus results pile in tonight, I’m a little relieved that they’ve chosen from their moderate candidates, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Ron Paul’s candidacy proves once again that he has solid support from his loyal constituents but little in the way of mainstream acceptance.

I get the libertarian slant.

The “weed should be legal” rallying cry gets you all interested in college, and then you get caught up in the entire heavy fuckin’ fee of freedom and the existential thoughts of what America would look like with a Libertarian president.

Personally, I’m still close with the idea that government has a vital role in its relationship with its citizens. I believe that we do occasionally need to monitor our distribution of wealth and support some people who are at risk or in need of temporarily assistance.

If I believed our behaviors all aligned in that way, then the idea of outside regulation wouldn’t be necessary. But the simple fact that we are human and that history has proven that we often don’t possess the empathy to help each other makes it hard for me to dismantle our government’s vital role as a support network.

Without it, the landscape looks a whole lot meaner and stacked against the common face of its citizens.

Don’t believe me? Then explain why the gap between the poorest in our country and our wealthiest is a Grand Canyon of divide with deregulation.

Throughout this campaign, I struggled with understanding how the GOP candidates could ignore this fact and contend that the gap between our wealthy and poor needs to expand further. I question how any who has no reasonable chance to benefit from this hyper-extended trickle-down theory can support such a candidate.

To see the candidates the GOP presented was disheartening.

To see that Iowa Republicans put the wackjobs towards the back of the bus was reassuring.

You really had to live in the state to get a full sample of how ridiculous the campaigns air attack was. From Rick Perry’s nutty baiting of our state’s fair share of Christian conservatives to Romney’s carpet-bombing attack ads (a decision that probably contributed to his poor showing in ’08 and will probably push Santorum to the top in ’12) against his own Republican counterparts.

Will our results here in Iowa tonight be a mirror of the national convention?

We’ll see.

But at least our last-minute swing to sanity and the return of the archetypical GOP candidate will hopefully put another nail in the mean-spirited views of that party’s fringe members trying to take it to the national level.