Sunday, October 31, 2010

VARIOUS - Bad Music For Bad People - Songs The Cramps Taught Us CD (Righteous/2009)
This is where my head's at lately. I write about old hardcore/punk/undie-rock here coz I figure that's what the folks want. Don't get me wrong - I love the stuff, too, and surely that's obvious - but sometimes I drag my feet a little, writing about hardcore platters of yesteryear simply because I know they're the entries which will at least get a little feedback. And when I write about "jazz", fuggedaboutit! I can hear the snoring and sense the glazed eyes from all the way over here. Which means I can occasionally be stuck in a bind when my head is caught in a certain musical corner which: A) may bore readers of this blog to tears if I were to attempt to dissect, critique and explain it; and B) may be a field of music I'm not particularly confident in tackling, or at least not as qualified as others who will appraise said music in a far more literate manner than I could muster. Before I wind up tying myself in parentheses-laden knots I can never escape from, I'll put it like this: My head has been deeply ensconced in the sounds of '40s/'50s America the last 6 months, and yet I've barely dribbled a word of it.
Dale Hawkins, Slim Harpo, Amos Milburn, Wynonie Harris, Clyde McPhatter, Lightnin' Slim, Hank Ballard, Elmore James, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Big Jay McNeely, Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Louis Jordan, the deep and wonderful vaults of the Excello, Aladdin, Modern, King, RPM, Meteor, etc. labels. Them's the goods that've been keepin' my head spinning. If you want the dice on these folks and more, go here, or perhaps even better yet, read yerself Robert Palmer's Deep Blues and Nick Tosches' Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll and get started. It's been a collision of factors which have led me down this path of late: belatedly discovering the genius of Louis Jordan 18 months ago was one, but also blogs, the Palmer and Tosches books and a recent splurge on the Ace label have sent me into a spiral of obsession. All this doesn't mean I'm letting the bumcrack fly the flag as I squat over milk crates at record fairs whilst searching for rare 78 sides - my musical obsessions usually jump in about five different directions at once (I'm also enjoying early '60s Jamaican rocksteady, medieval music and '70s Australian boogie-metal, so go figure) - but it's certainly something which has, musically speaking, gotten me excited all over again. And that's a good thing.
And now that that hideously long-winded introduction is out of the way, let's tackle this CD in question. There was quite the glut of Cramps-related compilations back in the '80s, specifically the Born Bad series, one which I indulged in as a 14-year-old Cramps fan at the time, though also one whose wares I sold a few years later as I disappeared into the SST jazzbo zone, not to be seen again for a while. Rumour has it that a certain Australian ex-retailer was behind the Born Bad series, and whilst I'm not one to champion bootlegging of any sort, at least such a public service managed to open the eyes of a few gormless suburbanites to the wonders of pre-Beatles rock 'n' roll and its eccentrics such as Hasil Adkins, Link Wray, Wanda Jackson et al. These kind of comps had been almost entirely erased from my memory until this release came into my peripheral vision earlier in the year. I'm happy to be reminded.
Righteous is a Cherry Red imprint overseen and curated by author/writer/man-about-town, Dave Henderson. As the music biz continues to crumble under the weight of its own bullshit, Righteous is doing something right. It's a label of personal intent and taste: reissues and compilations of all shades and stripes which Henderson deems important enough to put back into circulation. 30 years from now - hell, maybe 10 years from now - folks are gonna miss these kinds of things. There's everything from exotica oddities to country/hillbilly gems to piano-boogie-blues from the 1940s to beatnik gimmickry from the '50s. I'm not going to say it's all good, but the strike rate is strong enough for me to always take an interest in what they're up to, and this release in question is definitely one of the best things Henderson has done, even if it is treading over old ground in places, ground which may well have been exhausted back in the '80s when the Cramps were at the height of their popularity, but as all nostalgia comes in waves, perhaps it's time to get nostalgic about a certain brand of nostalgia from 20 years ago. Are you still reading this? Good. Carry on.
If you have the slightest clue about rock 'n' roll beyond the plainly obvious, you may be familiar w/ some of the 26 tunes featured: Sonny Burgess' "Red Headed Woman", Elroy Dietzel & the Rhythm Bandits' "Rockin' Bones" (later covered by Ronnie Dawson), Slim Harpo's terrific "Strange Love" (a song which really does sound strange in the company it keeps here, the context giving it a quiet, unsettling aura), Dale Hawkins' "Tornado", etc. There's also a very cool Lightnin' Slim track, "It's Mighty Crazy", songs of raw genius I previously knew zip about (Jimmie Haskell & his Orchestra's "Astrosonic", Macy "Skip" Skipper's "Bop Pills", The Bangers' "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box"), and one of the great surprises is a staggeringly awesome track by Mac Rebenack (AKA Dr. John, if I gotta say it), "Storm Warning", a truly wild and hopped-up, speed-driven rockabilly instrumental aided and abetted by roaring sax and fuzz/tremelo guitar. It'll knock you out. The liner notes tell me the Cramps used the riff as a springboard for their own number, "Corn-Fed Dames" from A Date With Elvis. I haven't listened to that LP in over two decades. I might need a revisit. I knew of Rebenack's pre-Dr. John session work and that he had indeed dabbled in solo material under his own name in the late '50s/early '60s, but I had no idea that any of it was of this calibre. It's possibly the best thing here, and none of this is anything less than "good" and most of it is great.
What's in a compilation these days? If you buy your music via single-track MP3 downloads, then this kinda thing is not of any interest to you. I don't have the time nor willpower to make my own compilations. I need someone else to do it for me. Like I've said before: a good label is a filter, a conduit. Bad Music For Bad People has done the trick. Lux 'n' Ivy, god bless 'em, they unwittingly started up a cottage industry of folks trying to dig their way into their psychs, hearts and record collections over 30 years ago, and yet it continues. You oughta be happy someone's still doing it.


The Soothers "Best Australian Music Blog" competition winner has been announced, and... the big news is that it ain't me. But I can say w/ at least some sense of hopeless and desperate pride that Lexicon Devil came in second and in fact received over twice the votes as the winner. How the hell does that work?, I hear you ask. Well, you get a couple of marketing executives keen to ingratiate their product - a goddamn cough lolly... I mean, do you buy the things unless you're feeling crook?! - w/ the hep music scene, and then you somehow create a competition to determine who has the best music blog in the land. You do this not by the quality of the actual writing or the public's response to it, but by creating a "virtual concert" which in fact possibly says very little about the blog in question... and then... I guess you kinda make it up as you go along. The story isn't even interesting enough to bother re-telling. But my monstrous ego was moderately flattered, and so I'd like to thank you. Good night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

John Belushi flying the 'Flag.

I posted this w/ just the picture and headline and left it like that for a few hours. After all, a picture tells a thousand words. And then a friend asked me if I'd photoshopped it, and I realised the story had gotten muddled somewhere along the way.
The story of the intersecting of Hollywood and punk rock is a relatively brief and uninteresting one. Some of the LA set from the late '70s mixed it up w/ various Hollywood hustlers and B-movie stars (mostly as rentboys); Matt Dillon was known to frequent HC shows in NY in the '80s; Keanu Reeves, of all people, claims to've grown up listening to GBH and Discharge; Johnny Depp used to play in a punk rock-ish band back in Florida in the early '80s, and there's a persistent rumour of him being tattooed w/ "the bars"; Emilio Estevez made his non-presence known in two punk-related films of the era, 1983's Nightmares, a pretty fine compendium of short stories which was cashing in on the success of the Twilight Zone/Creepshow films of the same period, one which featured him in a segment dancing around to "Rise Above" in his bedroom (trainspotters might note that it's apparently the rare 1982 version w/ Emil on drums), and Repo Man needs no introduction (and Estevez's subsequent career, which goes from bad to worse to worst, has ably demonstrated the man to possess zero credibility and talent in just about any endeavour); and there's likely a few more I'm forgetting (or not mentioning since they fall into a later period when punk rock hit the mainstream consciousness, thus nullifying the whole experience), but the grandaddy of the punk rock/Hollywood crossover remains the good man John Adam Belushi.
For the record, I don't know whether this photo is a digital creation: I simply found it somewhere on the 'net, yet have curiously never seen it before. I didn't feel that it needed any justification, since the possibility of its authenticity is high, given Belushi's great fandom for the band. Belushi became involved in the NYC punk scene in '77 or so, and even played drums for a brief while in the Dead Boys when Johnny Blitz was stabbed and out of action. By the time he settled on the West Coast, he'd become entranced w/ the local HC scene and often turned up to shows by the likes of the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and his good buddies Fear. Along w/ musician/scenemaker/cable TV pioneer Peter Ivers (his biography, In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre, is well worth a browse), he helped bring punk rock to a wider audience at the time, and could even be seen dragging the likes of Dan Ackroyd and Chevy Chase to HC shows (Dan dug it, Chevy didn't).
He handpicked Fear to appear on their notorious Saturday Night Live performance in 1981, after SNL rejected his first choice of Black Flag, and even rang Ian MacKaye the day before, making sure he brought some DC baldies w/ him to help cause havoc during Fear's performance (they did). Belushi himself appeared in two excellent films, Animal House (one of the funniest films ever, fuck you very much), and The Blues Brothers. You may smirk at the latter, due to its confounding popularity with just about every moron who ever stalked the earth the last 30 years, though popularity doesn't denigrate its greatness as a film; and besides, any movie which can coax killer performances from Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles on celluloid, in between car chases, surely has something going for it. Belushi's other films are perhaps best left unspoken for, but his due as a wildman punk rocker - a real-life "Bluto" of the stars - must be given. He was funny as a fart in a spacesuit and had great taste in music. That's a winning combination and enough for me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here's a preamble.... Back in 1999, when I was at the Knitting Factory in NYC, I found myself in a conversation with Eremite's Michael Ehlers. He'd written reviews for Forced Exposure as a teen in the mid/late '80s, so I began quizzing him about Forced Exposure's enthusiastic coverage of Venom in its early issues. How could they have been serious? He assured me that Jimmy Johnson and co. were serious, and that many punkers back in the day were impressed by the tuneless, leathered-up Geordies, and not just FE (that's true: check the recently-issued Touch & Go compendium). He then delivered the million dollar line: You know, in hindsight, most early '80s hardcore was no less dumb than something like Venom anyway, so it's no big deal. I was about to argue the point - you know, them punkers were all about smashing the system, bringin' The Kids together and making a DIY cottage industry, destroying the music biz, etc. - when I realised he might be right.

The proof... My buddy Joe Stumble over at Last Days Of Man On Earth alerted me to this clip from 1984 by Tucson, Arizona band, Useless Pieces Of Shit (or UPS... you know, like Fed Ex). It's their "classic", "Fuck Shit Up". I assumed it was an Anarchy 6-style parody w/ Dave Markey behind the camera, though he has assured me it's for real. Friends of his had seen this band in the flesh. If I'm posting this under the impression it's the real deal and it's not, then call me a sucker. If it is the real deal, then reality truly is funnier than parody.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I don't hear too many folks flying the flag for SQUIRREL BAIT these days, so I'll raise my hand. Back in the day - that'd be mid/late '80s - they were kind of a big deal for me, or at least a big enough deal for me to own their only two recordings and give them a spin beyond the mere perfunctory. They made what can only be termed as a semi-splash among the underground rock cognescenti, which I guess means one could call them a critic's band [ie. - they got the right heads singing their praise and went onto influence others]. More than that, you're also probably likely aware of the fact that the band's quick demise soon led onto a plethora of equally influential groups and projects, both good and bad.
Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, the band existed from 1983 - 1988, formed and finished whilst all the members were still teenagers. Inspired by hardcore, as well as the buzzsaw guitar of Husker Du (the band they're always compared to) and their brethren (which means you could probably throw in names like the Replacements and Soul Asylum in there, although I think they sound little like either), for some they were considered the Great White Hope of post-HC rock 'n' roll: suburban white kids who attacked their songs w/ the vigour and fury of HC yet lent the music a touch of songcraft not grafted from the short/fast/loud set. How this actually makes them any different to the likes of Rites Of Spring remains a mystery. I guess their cheerleaders were from a different crowd. For one, there was Steve Albini, as well as a certain Robert Nedelkoff (longtime Louisville collector/scenemaker/writer), which possibly resulted in Squirrel Bait's audience being slightly older than the band themselves. Of course, this is all just conjecture and quite possibly bullshit, and since I bought their records when I was 16, I can only surmise that their music was also made for The Kids.
Squirrel Bait made a semi-dent down here at the time; at least enough to get played on 3RRR and some fanzine coverage in the likes of B-Side and Pallative Treatment(!). I recall Joel Silbesher of GOD raving about 'em in print somewhere at the time, which fits like a pink rubber glove when you pair up "My Pal" w/ any tune by the Kentuckians: the similarities are there, whether Joel cares to admit it or not (I've never grilled him about it).
The two Squirrel Bait discs to contend w/ are the self-titled mini-LP from 1985, and the sole (yet short) LP from '87, Skag Heaven, both released on Homestead and since reissued on David Grubb's Dexter's Cigar imprint via Drag City. As is their wont, I see that once again throws around some fairly bizarre assertions in regards to their review of the debut SB platter, comparing it to Rush and Judas Priest(!!). Huh? Are they listening to the same record?! That rates as the dumbest comparison they've made since they hinted at a spurious link 'twixt Slovenly and Guns 'n' Roses some years back (true story!).
Squirrel Bait has eight songs, seven of which fly pretty close to a Flip Your Wig/Slip It In sound hybrid, complete w/ Mould-y vocals, and one flat-out killer, the highlight of the record, "Sun God", a fantastic tension/release number which soars into the chorus each time in a manner that'll make fists pump air. Vocalist Peter Searcy screams out "Take it awaaaay" in such a way that'll get the heart pounding in even the biggest music burnout, and I know there's a few of you out there (I flirt w/ it occasionally).
Better yet is the full-lengther, Skag Heaven. The production is much punchier, w/ the ace, technical and even a little proggy drumming of Ben Daughtrey coming to the fore, the songwriting has improved on the slightly patchy and underdeveloped debut, and the buzzsaw guitars - "buzzsaw": now that's an over-used term for these guys, but when it fits like this, I'm a-usin' it - have the bottom end to power the songs in a far more hardcore-ish mode. Once again, I would ask you to dismiss Allmusic's ludicrous review of this disc (they compare it to Metallica!!) and simply believe my summation of it being a near-perfect collision of HC and post-HC sensibilities. It would've slotted in nicely w/ SST's roster at the time, before they disappeared into jazzbo hell, and the band was showing promise in moving into different and far more interesting musical directions. The cover of Phil Ochs' "Tape From California" burns it up - and what the hell kind of teenagers were these kids covering Phil Ochs?? - and the instrumental "Rose Island Road" ably displays the depths of musical expression these young 'nes could create sans vocals. Shorter, punkier tracks like "Kid Dynamite" and "Kick The Cat" also do the trick in a kinda New Day Rising vein. Husker Du's musical legacy - despite their greatness as a band - is a sketchy affair, at best, though Squirrel Bait did it right.
The group's demise most notably led to bands such as David Grubbs' Bastro (Big Black-ish noise-rock I haven't listened to since about 1992, and I'm guessing it doesn't sound so hot in the year 2010, though forgive me if I'm wrong); Gastr Del Sol, an experimental project borrowing sounds and ideas from the likes of John Fahey and John Cage [for the lack of easier comparisons] I dug a whole lot back in the '90s and haven't heard since; as well as his obtuse, confusing and sometimes rewarding solo career; Brian McMahan, Ethan Buckler and Britt Walford went on to form Slint, a band whose legacy and continuing popularity renders any comments I make redundant, but since that's never stopped me before, I'll note that their recordings still stand for me as highlights of their era, their unique take on prog/punk/metal being one which has been copied a thousand times yet never equalled; and the Buckler/Walford-helmed King Kong released a couple of brilliant and sublime albums on Homestead and Drag City dealing in a strange mixture of deadpan humour and almost minimalist New Wave rock 'n' roll, a description which hardly does them justice, though I could recommend their Funny Farm LP to just about anyone reading this. And so the diaspora went on...
Squirrel Bait's two recordings remain in print and easily available, and since I can still listen to them w/ great joy 22 years after purchase, they've passed the test. More than a mere footnote or springboard, they demand your attention, buckaroos.

Friday, October 15, 2010

And now for something a little different...

Thursday last week I went to check my PO box, something I hadn't done for a fortnight or more. In the box was a note to pick up an express package waiting in the main post office building (my "box" is a budget-sized pigeon hole). I collected the package in question, a large tube-shaped carton usually used to ship posters and the like, one which was emblazoned with a large red mouth and a Soothers logo. Soothers, as in the cough lozenge... why the hell would they be sending me something?

Well, to cut to the chase, Soothers has shortlisted Lexicon Devil in a competition to "decide" the "best" music blog in Australia. I'm using inverted commas here, not only because such a competition can only be one which is absurdly subjective, but also because the means in which they intend on judging this result are highly subjective and questionable. But I'm playing along. If only because perhaps I'm an egomaniac, I have fuck-all chance of winning anyway, and because they sent me a free t-shirt (w/ Lexicon Devil printed on it, along w/ my competitors' names). The competitors I speak of? Big-name music web sites such as Mess & Noise, The Vine, Faster Louder and Threethousand - none of which are blogs, mind you, but professional, profit-driven web domains - as well as a few blogs I'm not personally aware of.

So, see those clips below? That's my entry. Click right HERE for the real deal, and if you're not of the opinion that I'm a complete asshole, then you might vote for me on the linked page w/ an "approve" click. I think I can guess who won't be coming to the party. Essentially, the competition entails myself having to curate an imaginary festival (first you have to pick a venue; I chose CBGBs simply because I had little time to fill it out and couldn't be bothered ruminating on trivialities) of five acts put together via Youtube clips, and people vote w/ a yay or nay as to whether it's "the best". How on earth this is actually a deciding factor as to whether your blog is any good or not remains a mystery to me, but I guess overpaid marketing people have to somehow justify their jobs to the bean-counters at Soothers (or whatever megacorp owns them... and I believe I've probably just killed whatever chance I had at winning by that last sentence), and this is the way they've decided to do it.

The winner receives a crappy flying-V guitar-shaped trophy, a pair of $500 studio-worthy headphones which I might be able to get $300 for on ebay, but most importantly of all - and this is where I actually have a sense that someone in marketing does have a clue about the psychology of music blogs - "bragging rights as the SUPREME MUSIC NERD OVERLORD". Now that's more like it.

The idea of attempting to cater this blog to a given audience is beyond me, or perhaps beneath me, so I could only choose five acts whom I know I'd like to see, and frankly, if the idea of seeing Black Flag, the Stooges, Miles Davis, Bad Brains and Black Sabbath on the one bill doesn't thrill you, then the obvious question is, why are you reading this right now?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Here's a link to Mike Watt's "Invisible Jukebox" test from the latest issue of The Wire mag. It's pretty funny, even though I wish someone had tried out a few less predictable tunes (as opposed to T-Rex, Coltrane, Blue Oyster Cult, The Who, etc.) on the guy. Dig it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

(above: Boredoms photo, w/ truncated drummer line-up, NOT taken from last night's show)
Some folks reading this were no doubt in attendance. I certainly was. It's mighty odd to find, in the year 2010, that a Saturday night's choice of entertainment in Melbourne involves a toss-up between the Boredoms and the Murder Junkies (GG Allin's old back-up band, sans GG.) I had no idea his band, still featuring his brother Merle and infamous nudist/pervert "Dino" on skins, had even ever played a single show after GG's death in 1993, let alone still had the act on the road 17 years later. Perhaps the saddest aspect to today's entry is the fact that, had the Boredoms not been playing the same night (and believe me, there was no competition), I likely would've attended the Murder Junkies' show. Only a bizarre sense of curiosity and even more bizarre sense of nostalgia can explain such a thing, especially so since I'm often embarrassed of my previous fandom for Mr. Allin (and I'd roughly chart such a period as being the years 1987-'95), and my retail experiences have tought me that not only are most of GG's dedicated fanbase more frightening than the man himself, but that there is nothing as sad, pathetic and perhaps just a little creepy than an ageing GG Allin fan. You know, the kinda guy - always a guy - who still holds GG's flame as a lost warrior in rock'n'roll's war against the jive and just can't let it go. Better yet, some of these people are my friends!
So, that brings me to the Boredoms, brought out as part of the Melbourne Festival, a use of tax-payer's money I can well approve of (they've also brought out John Cale, to perform his classic Paris 1919 album w/ a small orchestra. One of my fave albums, for sure, but having witnessed Cale stink up the stage w/ an uninspired performance - and a shitty "hot-shot" session-muso band of young hipsters, to boot - a few years back, I'm passing.) The Boredoms - with no less than 10 drummers - hence the 10/10/10 performance date, were a mere $20 and worth every cent and then some. I've written about the band before here, a review which, despite being a little half-assed, I still thinks stands as totally relevant, as too many people, at least from my skewered perspective, still falsely view the band as some sort of gimmick. In other words, they're "fun" and possibly a live experience to behold, but it doesn't necessarily mean they have the songs, or release records one would bother exchanging cash for.
Of course, that's a falsehood, but perhaps an understandable one, since when they were at the relative height of their international fame (let's say mid '90s when they were playing Lollapalooza and signed to Warner/US for Pop Tatari and Chocolate Synthesizer), their records weren't all that hot. Or at least not nearly as hot as they'd get, as their Super Roots series soon began, and they went on to release the Holy Trinity of Super Ae, Vision Creation Newsun and Seadrum/House of Sun between 1998 and 2005. In essence, the music's herky-jerkiness and jarring nature lacked the awesome groove they would soon find. So some friends of mine still peg 'em as a Z-grade Butthole Surfers (or even worse, as "Bungle-esque". More's the pity!), merely on the worth (or lack thereof) of those albums, a way-harsh - and totally incorrect - judgment on its own, but one which also gives the band no credit for the multi-dimensional psychedelic behemoth they have since become.
So anyway, I'm repeating myself a little (assuming you've read the link), so let's talk about this show. Or perhaps not. I mean, live reviews are kinda pointless, no? If you were there, you've already forged your own opinion of how the evening went, and if you weren't, the show in question is likely irrelevant. But in this case it was such a spectacular, in an almost Cirque du Soleil sense of the word, that it must be given creedence. Not only that, but this afternoon I received a text from a well-known musical hard-arse/hard-to-please type (or perhaps I just can't figure it out what does musically please him and for god's sake why... but I still loves ya) who complained that the show was boring and the band little more than a human drum machine w/ a distinct lack of compositional sensibilities and/or talent. I say a pox on that: the over-all power of the performance, the all-engulfing sound is what shook brains venue-wide. Which doesn't for a second mean it was one aimless, tribal jam. Far from it: it was stop-on-a-dime stuff, composed and performed w/ J.B.'s-style discipline which took all previously-unknown levels of musical intensity to Defcon 4 and had me stupidly watching them w/ a goddamn smile on my face. I don't believe a tear was shed, but the sense of musical ecstacy was something I haven't experienced in a live setting since Neil Young blasted out 45 minutes of blissful noise-rock in his second set at the Myer Music Bowl some 5 years back (I believe I wrote about it at the time. I don't particularly care to re-read it, but you might. A friend of mine saw God).
Consisting of four local drummers - Evelyn Morris AKA Pikelet; Matt Watson, 2nd-hand record dealer to the stars and member of Fading Fires etc.; Cameron Potts of Baseball and three-dozen other bands; and Rob MacManus from the Grey Daturas (at least he told me he was, though I couldn't make him out on stage) - as well as Boredoms members Yojiro Tatekawa (possibly the most technically gifted percussionist I've ever witnessed in the flesh, w/ the stamina to match), Yoshimi similarly on drums as well as vocals and keys, and master-at-arms Yamatsuka/Yamantaka Eye at the helm guiding the action, jumping and screaming, twiddling nobs and whacking a great, big ribcage-like one-man guitar army (perfectly tuned, mind you) behind him w/ sticks (see photo above). In addition there were approx. half-a-dozen "import" drummers from such bands as Black Dice and Oneida - all apparently veterans of the Boredoms' infamous multi-drummer performances the last few years, similarly keeping the beat. I heard a track or two from Super Ae - don't ask me for song titles - which were mutated for the show, and the sound was caught somewhere, for the most part, between what I imagine a really great Magma concert in 1973 might've been like (the kind of crescendos which feel like they're going to lift you through the ceiling), the cyclical groove of Fela Kuti and all those who proclaim him a god, and I'll even say this, despite my appalling lack of knowledge (and possibly appreciation!) for all manner of dance-oriented electronic music, I believe that certain parts were verging on what one might term as "deep house" or "acid house" (or perhaps it's referred to as post-dubstep/witch-house w/ a dash of chill wave these days... are you still reading this?). In essence, I wanted to dance, much like all those lucky folks up the front were, but I was caught up in the seated area and wasn't about to brave a solo white-man shuffle.
Of course, I do have to mention that the show went on for too long: sitting through a two-hour performance (the last half-hour of which was a totally unnecessary "encore") which begins at midnight is a big ask, especially for a sleep-deprived man such as myself, but I was in for the long haul regardless, especially after the first hour had so throughly fried my brain through the stratosphere. More than just a memorable, if fleeting, live experience, last night's show has convinced me of this: the Boredoms are visionaries, quite possibly the best band of the 21st century thus far (I eagerly await the debate); an outfit which has just given me new hope in these musically desparate times; and one splintering a whole new form of sound, the kind of which is capable of blowing my mind and getting me all hopped-up and excited about musical possibilities the way I did before the weight of the world crushed my spirit. Not bad for a night out on the town!

POSTSCRIPT: Below is a brief clip of the performance (including Yojiro Tatekawa being carried out on his drum kit through the crowd in the opening song), and I should note that Rob MacManus didn't play w/ the band, but instead they had some guy from Regurgitator (a band who musically blow horse cock, but I'll give 'em credit for having brought the Boredoms out in 1997) take his place. Enjoy.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Here's a clip from one of my fave flicks, Jonathon Demme's Something Wild from 1986. The film's got a few good things going for it: the appearances of The Feelies, John Waters and John Sayles in the movie itself; an '80s soundtrack which doesn't totally make you want to barf (The Feelies again, plus a score by John Cale and songs by artists I can't claim to be a fan of - New Order, David Byrne and the Go-Betweens - but whose songs on the 'track itself work for the given era); a screenplay which never gets too "hip" or "cutting edge" for its own good; a plot with many unforeseeable twists and turns; and the presence of three lead actors who, despite whatever prejudices you may have (that's directed mainly towards cyborg Melanie Griffiths), put in their best performances. Besides, Ray Liotta is a fine actor who, for whatever reason, has decided to waste his talent in cinematic garbage the last two decades, and Jeff Daniels also put in an excellent performance in Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale (another film w/ Daniels and The Feelies on the soundtrack... is this a coincidence?). Directed by Jonathon Demme, a man who spent some time hanging around the NYC punk/new wave scene in the '70s and once listed Forever Changes by Love as his favourite album of all time (I'm just trying to lend him some cred, OK?), the storyline follows square-John/suit Daniels as he is (willingly) "kidnapped" by black-clad mistress Griffiths during his lunch hour and their eventual road-bound odyssey to her home town and 10-year high school reunion, only to have their adventures rudely interrupted by the presence of a menacing ex-con (and ex-boyfriend) thug, played by Liotta. Hi-jinx ensues.
I first saw Something Wild when it came out in the cinemas. I was only 14, though the film's "New Wave" (I won't stretch a story and claim it holds the same punk-rock appeal as, say, Repo Man) vibe had me curious. It's safe to say that approx. 75% of the film's appeal went over my head, though it did at least introduce me to The Feelies. It was only a re-viewing at age 19 when things fell into place. Not too dissimilar to the equally-great Blue Velvet and River's Edge, films which also tread a path of unveiling a dark side to small-town US of A, it's one of the finest films of its day. Ladies and dorks, Something Wild is one of the great unsung films of the 1980s, so under-appreciated that it even airs Down Under on occasion as a midday movie on free-to-air TV: the televisual graveyard usually reserved for made-for-TV atrocities starring Harry Hamlin and/or Tory Spelling. It desrves better. At the very least, it deserves your attention.

Part of my brother's tribute series to the art of Raymond Pettibon. If you want more, go here.