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Music Monday

Music Monday Super Bowl After Party — “We Are The Champions” (Live) by Queen

Posted by KingShamus on February 4, 2013

Congratulations to the world champion Baltimore Ravens.




And so ends the 2012-2013 National Football League season.

If you’re a Ravens fan, this couldn’t be a more epic victory.  Ray Lewis got to ride off into retirement as a two time Super Bowl winner.  Ed Reed snagged an interception to tie him for most post-season picks by a defensive player.  Joe Flacco capped his insane playoff run with a well-deserved MVP trophy.  John Harbaugh beat his brother to take home the Lombardi trophy.  The team had to fight off both a momentum-killing 34 minute power outage and a second half comeback attempt by the San Francisco 49ers, yet still managed to score a victory.

For a Super Bowl that didn’t seem like it had the big time vibe of past games, the contest itself had many tense moments.  There were stand-out defensive plays, ridiculous athleticism from both offenses and an amazing kickoff return for a touchdown.  Even though the Ravens never trailed, the 49ers taking advantage of the power outage to slowly reel Baltimore back within striking distance was dramatic.

This is a reminder of something we take for granted.  It really doesn’t matter who’s playing in the Super Bowl.  You could have the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Carolina Panthers.  As long as the teams are roughly equal in skill, the games are going to be pretty fun to watch.

Speaking of that power outage, here’s something schadenfreude-y.

Show of hands if you had ‘Green Energy Fail’ on your Super Bowl Bingo card.

Think about this:  The Super Bowl is a multi-billion dollar game.  Fortunes are spent on 30 seconds of ad time.  Businesses fight and claw each other just to be kinda-sorta attached to this event.  Cities lobby to host the game because they know it’s an economic boon.  There’s some serious crony capitalistic shizzle going on with the American professional sport’s premier night.

And yet, even with all that money and prestige on the line, the efficiency experts couldn’t figure out how to get power to a football stadium.

If you think that’s great,  just think how rad it’s going to be when the Obamatons mandate smart meters for your house.

Posted in Domestic Happenings, Music Monday, The Sporting Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Music Monday Major Key — “Nothing Else Majeur” By Metallica (Sorta)

Posted by KingShamus on January 28, 2013

If you know the original version of the song, be prepared to get mildly weirded out.

Played in a minor key, “Nothing Else Matters” is a brooding ‘us against the world’  manifesto.  “Nothing Else Majeur” is relentlessly cheerful.  James Hetfield isn’t a grizzled road dog but a giddy school boy joyously expressing how much he digs his chick.

Metallica’s self-titled black album, where “Nothing Else Matters” first appeared, was a polarizing affair back in the day.  The dedicated metal-heads who made Metallica a platinum-selling act despite a complete lack of media exposure were annoyed by the group’s bid for mainstream success.  Outside of the thrash underground, millions of fans were stoked by the Black Album’s straight-ahead riffs and Hetfield’s arena-god menace.  Depending on musical taste, Metallica’s self-titled disc was either the end of a great band or the beginning of a string of successful grunge albums.

“Nothing Else Majeur” makes that fan dichotomy even more pronounced, which is kinda hard to believe.

I don’t understand the process of changing the key of a song, but no matter how it’s done this is pretty wild.  Even though I’m not a fan of “Matters”, “Majeur” throws off listener expectations in a goofy yet satisfyingly mind-warping way.  You’ve heard the song a million times, but throw in a key change and it goes from an old radio chestnut into something else entirely.  It’s kinda like taking a longer slightly more complicated ride home from work.  You still arrive at your destination, but you can’t just put your brain on auto-pilot to get there.

I snagged this from the Metal Sucks site.

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Music Monday Libertarian Rapper — “So Fresh, So Clean” by OutKast

Posted by KingShamus on January 21, 2013

Featuring the most elaborate church preparation rituals ever filmed.

This is by OutKast, the Atlanta rap duo made up of Andre 3000 and Big Boi.  Before they parted ways in the late 2000’s, Outkast were one of the biggest names in hip-hop.  Platinum records, hit singles, massive tours–you name it, they did it.

But why do I call this post ‘Libertarian Rapper’?  Because Big Boi is a libertarian and he’s a rapper.  Read on.

MINKOVSKI: Did you vote for Gary Johnson?

PATTON: Yes, I’m a Libertarian. I’m liberty, justice for all, liberty for all. I’m really pro-people, pro-freedom, and, you know, this is all about positivity. Like, you know, I have nothing against the president at all, you know, he’s a nice guy, but, it’s just, you know, the things that they’re standing on right now just didn’t agree with me. Anything that benefits the public and not just big banking, that’s what I’m with.

Just how much static got thrown Big Boi’s way from the famously tolerant progressive movement?  I know Big Boi and OutKast haven’t been front and center in the public eye since George Bush’s second term, but still.  A rich and famous rapper from the Derrrty South announcing that he didn’t support President Obama is sacrilege to the left wing thought police.  You let one wealthy black dude start popping off about individual liberty and voting for a candidate not approved by the nanny-staters and the next thing you know, Democrats might start losing elections.

You know we can’t be having any of that.

I also wonder how Big Boi’s actual fans took to his announcement that he’s a Gary Johnson voter.  Do they like OutKast’s music less now that he’s not a Democrat?  Are they burning their ATLiens CDs in protest? I really don’t know.  I’m sure he lost some fans from this, but just how many is impossible to quantify.

Think about the music artists you like.  Imagine if Ted Nugent was a loud-n-proud Obama supporting socialist.  Deleting “Free For All” from your Ipod becomes a little more imaginable.  Or does the man’s awesome musical output overwhelm the Nuge’s partisan affiliation?  

Consider this scenario: In the 90’s, an older pre-American Recordings Johnny Cash goes full-on Michael Moore and trashes America, using every tired Howard Zinn cliche imaginable.  Does “Ring Of Fire” or “Sunday Mornin’ Comin Down” suddenly sound like crap?    

I know when I hear an artist I like spouting off lefty bromides, I get disappointed.  I’m no longer surprised when some doped-up hippie starts whining about Bush or raising tax rates, but it does annoy me.  I’m just curious how a real fan, who may lean to the left but isn’t a hard-core partisan, reacts when their favorite musical artist starts drifting to the right.

As far as OutKast goes, I never really jumped on their bandwagon, but what I liked about them was their defiant weirdness.  Andre 3000 is a hopeless fashion victim, but the man is also an inventive rapper with a unique lyrical perspective.  Big Boi had a more conventional thugged-out rap style and image, but that’s just a macho cover for his own musical eccentricities.  Most refreshingly, OutKast may have been gleeful horndogs but I never got the sense that they actually hated women.

On their later discs the group channeled the dreamy chill of the Pharcyde, Fatboy Slim’s drum-n-bass energy and Jimi Hendrix’s groovier sensibilities and filtered them through their own slow Southern rap sound.  The result was something far more nuanced and interesting than anything going on in hip-hop at the time.  It’s sort of a shame that they couldn’t keep it together, but rap is a brutal Logan’s Run-style game played by ambitious young men for an audience that craves novelty over the long arc of a career.


BTW, I snagged the Big Boi interview from Libertarian Republican.  Check out his piece on the news coming out of Mali.  You have to see it to believe it.

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Music Monday Slap Bass – “John The Fisherman” by Primus

Posted by KingShamus on January 14, 2013

Ladies and gentleman, as requested by the awesome Innominatus…I give you Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander.

This came out in 1990 on Primus’ debut album Frizzle Fry.  They had been demo’ing songs and performing live for years before their first record came out.  Unlike a lot of bands, their sound was relatively well-formed from the jump.

But that description short-changes just how inventive they are.  At the start of Primus’ recording career, there were some groups who did slap-bass in a rock context.  There were a few bands that liked to mix funk, metal and Caribbean drum sounds.  Nobody did it with the amount of gleeful random goofiness that Primus brought to their songs.

“DMV” is pretty much the definitive put-down of our state automotive agency overlords.  “My Name Is Mud” is even funnier when played at rain-soaked Woodstock ’94.  “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” is the funhouse mirror parody of 80’s hair-metal leering sexual innuendo.  “Lee Van Cleef” is a wacked-out twelve bar blues tribute to the great western movie character actor.  Why is a sweaty shirtless weirdo serving a leisure suit-clad  horn dog a batch of nachos in the “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver” video?  Who knows, but it works.

As trend-setting as Primus is, a lot of their musical progeny lost the humor as they nicked elements of their hero’s sound.  The Deftones are a cool band, but they’re about as funny as an episode of “Oz”.  Groups like Korn and Incubus ripped off Les Claypool’s bass lines even as they were making humorless turgid rap-rock.  Turns out the hardest thing to steal from Primus is the zaniness.

Also, on a more personal note, back in the early 2000’s I got one of those music organizer programs.  You could collate your music by artist, title of the song, record name, whatever.  You could also list your songs by genre.  So you’d see labels like “rock”, “metal”, “pop” and “polka”.  Primus was the only band that was also a genre.  I always thought that was pretty cool.

They’re so unique, they’ve carved out a genre they occupy all by themselves.


Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Music Monday Corgan – “Panopticon” by The Smashing Pumpkins

Posted by KingShamus on January 7, 2013

Here’s a song I overlooked last year.  My bad.

This little ditty is taken from The Smashing Pumpkins’ latest full-length disc Oceania, which came out in 2012.

Lead Smasher Billy Corgan can be such an arrogant doucherocket, even by platinum-selling guitar hero standards.  He’s never really matched the consistent high quality of the Gish/Siamese Dream/Mellon Collie era.  He had a seriously lame mid-period lull in the late 90’s/early 2000’s because he had to over-analyze and over-produce every single idea that breezed through his head.  He somehow alienated the ultra-adorable Paz Lenchantin when she was in his other band Zwan.

But when Corgan nails a song, it’s amazing how good it is.  Forget about his big radio hits.  That’s hunting cows with a grenade launcher.  Homeboy designed the singles to be irresistible earworms.

How do you know BC is talented?  Look at some of the Pumpkin’s deeper tracks.  “Tristessa” filters a bit of punk rock simplicity through Jimmy Page’s cranked Marshall stacks with excellent results.  “Geek USA” is exuberant rock music that doesn’t fall into Corgan’s hyper-cerebral trappings.  Da Punkins somehow figure out a way to simultaneously celebrate and mock the mopey goth-kid ethos in the woefully underrated “Here Is No Why“.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ enduring genius was, and still is, the ability to meld hippy-dippy kumbaya dreams with carefully orchestrated heavy rock riffs.  From what I’ve heard of Oceania, Billy Corgan might just be ready to embrace this legacy rather than run away from it.  I’m still not sold on SP version 3.0–or is it 4.0?–but still, “Panopticon” is pretty great.

One More Thing:  Billy Corgan has a habit of hiring lady bass players.  Why not run through a partial list?

Darcy Wretzky

Darcy Wretzky

Darcy, again


Melissa Auf Der Maur

Melissa Auf Der Maur with Bass

Melissa Auf Der Maur

Ginger Pooley

Ginger Pooley 1

Ginger Pooley 2

Ginger Pooley

Nicole Fiorentino

Nicole Fiorentino

Nicole Fiorentino1

Paz Lenchantin




Does this count as a Rule Five post?

Posted in Music Monday, The Posts of Morale | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Music Monday Thank You To Veterans – “Let ‘Em Win Or Bring ‘Em Home” by The Charlie Daniels Band

Posted by KingShamus on November 12, 2012

Happy Veterans Day.

Charlie Daniels pretty much sums it all up.

It’s strange how a country singer talks more sense than three quarters of our political class.

You wanna know the best way to honor our warriors?

Turning them loose and letting them score an unadulterated victory over the forces that want to kill them…and us.

If there are any military men and women reading this, know that your country is eternally grateful for the sacrifices you’ve made to keep us free.  God bless you and yours on this day and every day.

I snagged the Charlie Daniels song from the great Frugal Cafe Blog.  Check out the rest of Vicki’s post; it’s strong.

Totally Unrelated:  I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a week.  I didn’t get power back till this past weekend.  Running a generator is like feeding an angry football team.  Keeping a lit kerosene heater going is like feeding a very fickle and slightly kooky mistress.  Since I got juice back, clean-up and reorganizing things have taken up most of my time.  Now that things are getting back to normal, I’ll be around a little more frequently.

Posted in Domestic Happenings, Music Monday | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

#MusicMonday Trick-Or-Treat — ‘Halloween’ by The Misfits

Posted by KingShamus on October 29, 2012

Featuring none other than Glenn Danzig on lead vocals.

I’m not a huge Misfits fan, but they can be kinda cool.  Listen to their early stuff with Danzig and you can hear where Metallica’s James Hetfield got a lot of his vocal style. More than a few songs on  Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning could’ve been sang by Danzig and you probably wouldn’t notice it wasn’t James.

The thing about The Misfits is that, even by punk standards, they’re a polarizing band.  Either you dig their horror-punk visual aesthetic or you think it’s corny as hell.  I lean towards the latter, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make some great songs in their heyday.

Besides, “Halloween” and The Misfits are pretty much made for this witchy time of the year.

Happy Halloween!

Oh what the heck:  Just because this might be my favorite Misfits song, here’s a blast of pure punk rock. (Parental Advisory: F-Bombs).

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Music Monday Metal Side Project — “Red War” by Probot

Posted by KingShamus on October 22, 2012

Rockety Rock Rocktober.

With Soulfly and Sepultura singer Max Cavalera on lead vocals.

Probot was the brainchild of Foo Fighters head fighter Dave Grohl.  He wanted to create a tribute to the metal and hardcore groups of his youth.  Where most people would unpack their old Judas Priest albums and make a an Ipod playlist, Grohl wrote and recorded songs inspired by the singers from old-skool 80’s and 90’s heavy bands.  Even better, he got those vocalists to sing on the sessions that would eventually become the Probot album.

All told, Probot is a faithful homage to classic metal.  “Red War” captures Chaos AD-era Sepultura in fine fashion.  The menacing “Centuries of Sin” goes from a brisk stomping groove to a hurtling breakneck finish.  “My Tortured Soul” is an inspired bit of sludge metal.  ‘Shake Your Blood”, with Motorhead’s own Lemmy playing bass and growling, leers as good as anything on Ace of Spades.

If there is a criticism to be made, it’s that Grohl could’ve used some more musicians to flesh out the tunes.  Grohl’s drums, bass and rhythm guitar work is spot-on, but a few strategically placed guitar solos would’ve turned a few of the unpolished gems into masterpieces.  Unfortunately more than a few songs, like “Big Sky” and “Sweet Dreams”, feel like half-completed ideas.  Another collaborator, adding guitar parts or secondary riffs,  could’ve helped a great deal.

These are niggling complaints though.  For most metal fans, Probot is a faithful valentine to some of the best heavy music ever made.  Dave Grohl’s work in the Foo Fighters might be a little too poppy and he might be a flaming liberal bedwetter, but you can’t front on his immense talent.

More importantly, when it comes to Probot, the disc ultimately works because Grohl unashamedly lets out his inner head-banger for all to see.  His obvious love of the material and the metal-bro energy he brings to the project mostly smooths over any rough patches along the way.  If you like heavy music, Probot is a must have album.

ALSO:  I’ll be live-tweeting the debate tonight.  You know where to find me.  Say, do you think Bob “Not Claudia” Schieeeeeeeeffffeerrrrrrr is going to try to buck up St. Barry’s sagging poll numbers?

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Music Monday Grunge Comeback — “Been Away Too Long” by Soundgarden

Posted by KingShamus on October 15, 2012


“Been Away Too Long” is almost absurdly on the nose.  While I wasn’t in love with Soundgarden’s last album Down On The Upside, it seemed like the band wasted a lot of potential when they broke up back in 1997.  Ye olde ‘interpersonal differences’ seem to be the blame here.  That and Chris Cornell’s burning desire to be a Gap model.

I didn’t really understand Audioslave, either.  I get that Chris Cornell is just as much of a political lefty as Rage Against The Machine.  But Audioslave was such a mismatch in styles and tone, it’s hard to believe it got beyond a few rehearsals.  Six stringer Tom Morello constantly professes his love for Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne and 80’s metal, but on every song Captain Pinko Guitarsky always sounds like a bored techno DJ scratching out the most trite wack-ass hip hop beat.  The creative mixture of Cornell and Morello just didn’t work.

So it’s good that Soundgarden is back, if only to keep Chris Cornell out of trouble…and Timbaland’s recording studio.


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Music Monday Sludge Metal – “Bloody Knuckles” by High On Fire

Posted by KingShamus on October 8, 2012

Friggin’ Rocktober, ya’all.

‘Bloody Knuckles’ seems very appropriate given our current national mood.  We’re less than 30 days away from a huge presidential election.  The polls are tight, especially in the swing states.  That means both candidates are going to ramp up the aggression.  This race will turn into a barroom brawl very soon–if it hasn’t already.  Bloody knuckles, indeed.

As far as the actual song goes, it comes from High on Fire’s latest effort, De Vermis Mysteriis.  ‘Bloody Knuckles’ is a strong representative of the disc’s power.  When DVM came out in April, I was going to do an album review for it, but I got sorta wrapped up in Torche’s Harmonicraft.  I figured one big metal record critique during the spring was more than enough for my eight readers.

The problem is that De Vermis Mysteriis is a record that cannot be ignored, mostly because it expertly mines a vein of rock that many groups either can’t or won’t.  Where other bands mix their metal with David Bowie haircuts, synthesizer breakdowns or dubstep affectations, High on Fire is content to craft pile-driving riffs, intense solos and galloping rhythms.  This gives the band several distinct advantages over their heavy metal competitors, the most important of which is that High on Fire doesn’t suck.

That doesn’t mean that High on Fire is a group for everyone’s taste.  Within five seconds of the ferocious album opener ‘Serums of Liao’, most women will be desperately punching the mute button.  Even though HoF comes from a stoner-rock background, the trustafarian neo-hippie contingent will likely shit their Birkenstocks upon listening to the determined curbstomp of ‘Romulus and Remus’.  The hailstorm of guitars, drums and low-end thump in ‘Spiritual Rites’ sounds like it’s specifically designed to punch Communists in the throat.

But even with all that monolithic riffage, De Vermis Mysteriis has a distinct charm when it goes off-message.  On HoF’s last disc, Snakes for The Divine, the trio’s diversions from the brand felt like gritted-teeth concessions.  In the case of De Vermis, the subdued instrumental ‘Samsara’ blends seamlessly with the overall vibe, as does the slow-burning, insane-finishing ‘Madness of An Architect’.  The midtempo grind of ‘King of Days’ wouldn’t sound out-of-place on an early Queens of the Stone Age album.  The brooding lyrics and somber guitars are a reminder that even the gnarliest metal dudes get the blues every once in a while.

Even more surprising is ‘Warhorn’.  Throughout the disc, lead vocalist Matt Pike’s growl is less like an actual human voice and more akin to a heavily distorted instrument blending into and complementing the overall tone of the songs.  On the record’s finale, Pike’s lyrics are sung largely without his customary bulldozer guitar accompaniment.  Unadorned by six string assistance, Pike’s roaring anger has never sounded more ferocious.

All of that makes De Vermis Mysteriis the hands-down metal album of 2012.  High on Fire not only won the year, they also topped their previous masterpiece Blessed Black Wings and set a new standard for themselves.  If you are at all interested in modern heavy music, De Vermis Mysteriis is a must-own record.

Posted in Critiques, Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Music Monday Classic Metal – “Have A Drink On Me” (Live) by AC/DC

Posted by KingShamus on October 1, 2012

The summer of chill has been fun.

Now, let there be rock.

Back in Black, the album this little dittie comes from, was in many ways a miracle.  Their original lead singer, Bon Scott, had drank himself to death in the midst of the ‘BIB’ sessions.  His oddly magnetic stage persona and whiskey-aged voice was a perfect delivery system for AC/DC’s brand of smirking sleaze-rock.  His passing created an existential crisis for the group and for a time they debated whether to disband.  Thankfully AC/DC decided, with encouragement from Scott’s mother, to carry on with new vocalist Brian Johnson.

Beyond the fact that AC/DC somehow recovered enough to put out any sort of  album at all, the remarkable thing is that Back In Black is a masterpiece.  The title track is a classic rock radio staple.  “Hells Bells” is growling rock-n-roll menace.  If you’re looking for double entendres and amazing pop hooks, “You Shook Me All Night Long” has them both in spades.

Even more important, BIB came at a time when heavy rock was at a crossroads.  Led Zeppelin would disband within five months.  Black Sabbath was in the midst of firing their second lead singer.  The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was still in it’s infancy.  Prog was spinning itself into a long period of irrelevance.  Punk and metal had not yet made peace with each other.  By 1980, guitar-driven music was in a good deal of trouble.

Knowing all that, it’s pretty stunning to think that a memorial album that almost didn’t get made should be the thing to rescue rock and metal from the scrap heap of popular imagination.  But that’s just what Back in Black did.

Enjoy.  And have a drink on me.

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Music Monday Ol’ Blue Eyes–“Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra

Posted by KingShamus on September 24, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Chairman of the Board.

I remember being in Hoboken, New Jersey right after Sinatra went to that big smoke-filled casino in the sky.  It was sorta surprising how many people would mention–apropos of nothing in particular–being bummed out at the singer’s passing.  I had woefully underestimated the man’s popularity.  Silly me.

“Fly Me To The Moon” has one of the more impressive pedigrees of any Ol’ Blue Eyes tune.  It came from It Might As Well Be Swing, the second of two Frank Sinatra/Count Basie studio collaborations.  Sometimes, a match that appears to be made in Heaven turns out to be a disaster, but in the case of IMAWBS, the disc lives up to the hype.  Basie and Sinatra complement each other without getting in each other’s way.

As neat as all that is, “Fly Me To The Moon” not only went platinum, it went to the Moon with the astronauts of Apollo X.  Amazing, really.

Speaking of outer space, Starless over at the great Conservatory has a terrific piece on the continuing confusing boondoggle that is NASA.   I don’t know enough about the American space program, but Starless does.  That makes it a must read.

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Music Monday Metallic Shoegaze–“End Of The Road” by Jesu

Posted by KingShamus on September 17, 2012

It’s a few years old, but it’s still brilliant.

At first glance, this sounds maybe a little too heavy for the summer of chill vibe I’ve had going for the last few months.  The doomy guitar riffs wouldn’t sound out of place on a straight-up metal tune.  But after the rocked-out riffage fades, the song takes a turn for the dreamy, getting more ethereal with every second.

That’s a pretty good summation of Jesu’s sonic blueprint since it’s inception.  The leader of the band, Justin Broadrick, had made his name back in the 80’s and 90’s as a founding member of Napalm Death and the creative force behind Godflesh.  As those band names suggest, neither group was known for gentle contemplation.  After a nervous breakdown in the early 2000’s, Broadrick decided to scrap Godflesh and create a project less about snarling misanthropy and more geared towards emotional vulnerability.  Jesu was the direct result of that new mindset.

Jesu can still create blasts of sludgy doom; see “Friends are Evil” for definitive proof.  However, for the most part even the crunchiest guitar riffs are leavened by delicate counter-melodies, multilayered six-string tracks, vague introspective lyrics and vocals that are sang (as opposed to barked).  Godflesh’s overarching emotional connection to listeners was anger.  In contrast, Jesu explores the ways that sadness and hope can be tightly bound together.

Which is why it was fairly unexpected when Broadrick announced that he was bringing Godflesh back after a long time away from the material.  In an interview–sorry, can’t remember where I saw it–Broadrick mentioned that the music and tone of Godflesh came more naturally to him than his work in Jesu.  In his view, writing for that band is a struggle, whereas creating Godflesh songs are far easier him.

Broadrick’s statement brings up an interesting question.  What should an artist do with his time?  A case can be made that doing what is ‘natural’ often makes the most sense.  After all, the resulting material will probably be more immediate and less studied.  In a rock music context, this is almost always a positive attribute.  More, it could be that the stuff is emotionally satisfying for the artist.  That’s no small thing; he is doing all the work of creating the art in the first place.

However, in the case of Broadrick, it seems like doing what is easier is just the easy way out.  Godflesh’s last record, Hymns, sounded like a band that worked the industrial-metal angle for all it was worth.  While there are great moments on the disc, nothing on it approaches the primal anger of “Mothra” or the chilling alienation of “Almost Heaven“.  Hymns felt like a good place for Justin Broadrick to stop, reassess his priorities and move in a different direction.  Coming back to Godflesh feels repetitive at this point.

I could be wrong.  Godflesh could be just what the doctor ordered.  Maybe Jesu really does need to take an extended time-out.  There might be more gold to be mined in Godflesh’s particular vein of metal.

At the same time, I don’t know how much nostalgia there is for Godflesh.  “Say, remember that time when I was 14, depressed about stupid shit and listening to music about living a bleak vacuous hell of my own creation?  Good times, man.  Good times.”  They just don’t seem like the kind of band that would bring up a lot of rosey blissed-out memories.  In fact, Godflesh seems like the exact opposite of that kind of group.

In any event, if anybody can pull off this reunion, it would be Justin Broadrick.  Even if his music isn’t your cup of tea, there is no questioning the man’s talent. Even if the reunited Godflesh isn’t as great as it used to be, I’m sure it’ll have at least a few cool new songs.

Posted in Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Music Monday Disco Cover – “I Will Survive” by Cake

Posted by KingShamus on September 10, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the one and only Cake channeling everybody’s favorite Gloria Gaynor tune.

Cake is one of those bands that get lumped into that vague 1990’s non-category category, ‘slacker rock’.  While that’s kinda reductive, it’s not entirely unfair.  John McRea’s deadpan lyrics and sing-speak delivery is pretty much everybody’s idea of a college-age doofus doing a wake-n-bake and bumming on his couch for ten hours straight.

Beyond McRea’s vocal stylings, Cake somehow makes disparate musical influences work together in harmony.  Mariachi horns, funk bass grooves, 80’s drum-n-synth and honky-tonk guitars probably shouldn’t play all that well in the sandbox.  Yet, when paired with McRea’s fascination with fast cars, terrible romances and pop culture detritus, the results are always interesting and quite often brilliant.

Their biggest hit is “The Distance” but their other singles, like “Never There” and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” are all great tunes.  Moreover, if you dig the vibe of the singles, their deeper cuts are just as good.  Comfort Eagle is loaded with cool tracks.

“I Will Survive” comes off of Fashion Nugget, the band’s breakthrough disc.  A lot of times, cover versions of classic songs are dodgy affairs.  Either they sound too much like the original, which makes the listener ask, ‘why bother?’ or the remake is so far off the deep end that the band loses track of what made the song work in the first place.  I think Cake splits the difference really well here.  You still know it’s “I Will Survive” but they put enough of their own spin on the track to make casual listeners wonder if it wasn’t a Cake original after all.


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Music Monday British-“I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons

Posted by KingShamus on September 3, 2012

Yes, this is British.

I’d heard of Mumford & Sons a while back, but they never penetrated my defenses until I heard them on the radio the other day.  To my ears it sounded like a bluegrass-ish folk group from a distant corner of Appalachia.  Turns out they’re from West London, England.

I guess I was sorta wrong about that lack of Brit-American cross-pollination thing.

The video is probably not going to win any awards, but it has the benefit of focusing the listener on the sound rather than the visuals.  And what a cool sound it is.  The plainspoken guileless lyrics match up well with the old-timey instrumentation.  Lots of bands do the new twist on an old favorite act, but this song is an example of that nostalgic sensibility put to great use.


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Music Monday Piano-“Lonesome Tears (Live)” by Beck

Posted by KingShamus on August 20, 2012

I tend to think of Beck as a guitar player, so seeing him tickling the ivories is a little different.  Tickling the ivories in an old English chapel is taking it to the next level of rad.

This is taken from Beck’s Sea Change album, which was written in the aftermath of breaking up with his longtime girlfriend.  “Lonesome Tears”, like most songs on the album, eschews Beck’s usual dense metaphorical themes for more direct understandable lyrics. Instead of guarding his feelings with weird free-association vocals or barely rhymed raps, Beck makes his heartbreak plain as day, which gives this disc far more emotional weight than most of his material.

In just about every way imaginable, SC lived up to its name.  The tone of the album was a radical departure from Beck’s previous effort, Midnite Vultures.  Where that record was Beck’s version of sexxxed-up electro-clash and steamy R&B slo-jams, Sea Change was based around somber acoustic guitars and the darker regions of Hank William’s back catalogue.

The amazing thing is that Beck has made a career out of the kind of wild stylistic shifts that he displayed in the transition from Midnite Vultures and Sea Change.  Since his major label debut Mellow Gold, each disc has gone in a different direction than the one previous to it.  This has led to favorable comparisons to guys like David Bowie and a little bit of annoyance from the more casual corners of Beck’s fan base.

If you really dig the lo-fi bluesman Beck on One Foot In The Grave, you might not get that dude back for quite some time.  When the hip-hop Odelay-era Beck really hits the spot, the wooden and mournful Mutations comes along to muddy the genre waters for a few years.  Beck is the quintessential ‘your mileage may vary’ musician, mostly because he’s so hard to pin down as a ‘rock’, ‘hip-hop’ or ‘anti-folk’ artist.

For me, one of the reasons Beck is cool is because he’s been around for almost twenty years despite following the exact opposite of the prototypical pop musician’s career path.  Record labels generally want a band to find a commercially successful sonic formula and stick with it for, oh say, six straight albums (if not more).  For a lot of the music companies, the only time an artist’s musical recipe should change is if it stops making money.  Beck’s two decades of success prove that if a person has talent, he can overcome the inertia of any foolish short-sighted bureaucracy.

It’s a model all of us could stand to learn from…or re-learn from…when it comes to the careers we’ve chosen to pursue.

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Music Monday Bare Bones — “Tall As Cliffs” By Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s

Posted by KingShamus on August 6, 2012

Nice tune from a few years ago.

From what I gather, this is the demo version of this song.  The final product is in a different key.  It also has a lot more polish, with layered instrumentation.  But for whatever reason, I like the demo better.

Rock bands are funny.  There are horror stories of groups going into the studio intent of making a record and ending up in debt.  Much of that work in the studio is adding flavors and textures to the demo versions of tunes.

But why go through all that when the rough cut gem is better than the polished stone?

Now for the most part, the song that’s been fine-tuned is going to be superior to thing the band recorded at 2 o’clock in the morning at some dude’s garage.  Except for the most raw hardcore, most rock bands sound better when their work has seen some tender loving care.  It just makes sense.

Having said that, sometimes when you let the tape roll, you catch lightning in a bottle.  I think “Tall As Cliffs”  might’ve been one of those times.  Enjoy.

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Music Monday 1999 Flashback – “Glide” by Stone Temple Pilots

Posted by KingShamus on July 30, 2012

A few weeks back, we took a look at the various side-projects of Stone Temple Pilots.  When we last saw STP, it seemed like boys just couldn’t make music together.  Drugs, cancelled tours and inter-band tension had driven the Pilots apart.  But crappy album sales for Talk Show and 12 Bar Blues drove them back together.  The resulting album was No. 4, featuring “Glide”.

“Glide” wasn’t released as a single.  At a little over 5:00 minutes it might’ve been a little unwieldy for rock radio.  But it’s a winning tune all the same.

All told, No.4 is as strong as any STP disc.  “No Way Out” gets the Pilots back to their signature dense riffage that they had largely abandoned during their side-project excursions.  The ascending bridge section on “Church On Tuesday” takes a meh song to the next level.  The big hit single “Sour Girl” was propelled by a video filled with demonic Teletubbies and a gothic Sarah Michelle Gellar vamping with Scott Weiland.  STP was never a group who hid their Led Zeppelin influences, but “Sex and Violence” all but revels in Jimmy Page-esque chord jabs and John Bonham-style rhythms.

Even with a wealth of cool tunes on No. 4, I still dig “Glide” the best out of all of them.  And I think STP’s fourth album is their best work.  The band had gotten it’s ass kicked for a few years.  They had also kinda kicked their own asses for a while there too, but they knew they had to get back together and make music.  They were probably under a lot of pressure from their record company to turn in a decent album.  They answered the bell with their strongest effort.

That’s not a bad trick.

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Music Monday Media Critique – ’24 Hour Bullshit’ by Nailbomb

Posted by KingShamus on July 23, 2012

Just in case you forgot that progressives and the mainstream media–who are one and the same–will use any tragedy to strike against their political enemies, here’s Brian Ross and George Stephanopoulos purposefully linking the Tea Party with the actions of the Aurora Shooter.

After getting put on blast via Twitter, Ross had to walk back his slander against conservative activists.  No word on Stephanopopopopoplpolosoulos about whether he still thinks the theater killer is connected to the Tea Party.  In related news, there is still no word on what Incurious George wants to be when he grows up and gets to wear big boy clothes.

In any case, here’s my tribute to ABC News and the rest of the lamestream media.

I know I kinda wanted to play mellower music over the summer, but this is just too fitting.

Quick hint:  Eat dogshit, ABC News.  You’re little more than MSNBC with a slightly better ‘non-partisan’ drag act to fool your viewers.  I cannot wait for the day when Fox and the Internet beat you to the punch on just about every story.  Oh wait…

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Music Monday Solo Project – “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down” by Scott Weiland

Posted by KingShamus on July 16, 2012

With Squirell Crow on lead accordion!

While the rest of Stone Temple Pilots took out their frustrations over Scott Weiland’s heroin troubles by making the Talk Show album, Scott Weiland took out his frustrations over getting kicked out of STP by making 12 Bar Blues.  If Talk Show was devoted to polished pop songcraft, Weiland focused on 70’s-era experimentation.   Noise-rock, Bowie, Kraftwerk, and early electronic sounds were mixed together with the singer’s man-of-a-thousand-voices persona in full effect.

The results were as uneven as that description sounds.  12BB had enough producers and musicians to field two pick-up football teams.  That’s not a good sign for making a cohesive record and, true to form, Weiland’s debut solo disc was kinda all over the place.

But that doesn’t mean 12 Bar Blues was a bad record.  Desperation #5 takes grunge rock’s soft/loud dynamics–which by 1998 had become tired and perfunctory– and filters them through a blistering industrial sensibility.  If you ever wanted Scott Weiland to admit his drug-addiction failings in song form, Barbarella‘s painful confessions will do quite nicely.  The tune that hews closest to Weiland’s work in STP, Mockingbird Girl, still throws drum loops and noise guitars into the fray.

As good as all those songs are, the centerpiece of the CD is “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down”.  The melodramatic piano intro, the gypsy march cadences and the sweeping strings are a thousand light-years away from Stone Temple Pilots’ rock radio crunch.  Coupled with Weiland’s moody declarations, the tune creates a burlesque atmosphere unlike anything he’s done before or since.

More importantly, even as Weiland was deep in the midst of his smackhead rock bottom, he was still trying to make an ambitious broad-minded record.  He wasn’t writing an STP retread or aping the popular music trends of the time.  In fact, if the record has an underlying flaw, it’s that Weiland was trying too hard to be contrary.  Maybe he felt he had to throw a musical Hail Mary, if only to separate himself from his Stone Temple Pilots legacy.  Besides, studied weirdness isn’t the worst crime a musician can commit.

In the end, 12 Bar Blues ended up being a commercial disaster.  Like Talk Show, it seemed like the public wasn’t interested in Stone Temple Pilots doing stuff that didn’t sound like Stone Temple Pilots.  Eventually the boys put aside their differences and got back together.  But in a lot of ways, when STP parted company in the late 90’s and decided to try something else, they ended up making some of the most interesting music of their respective careers.

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