Sunday, December 25, 2016

RIP George Michael

Literally just dusted off George Michael's greatest hits about a week ago and overplayed it one day in the office at work. Had people singing along and tapping their feet, it reminded me how great George Michael is. Then my friend Black Philip posted Wham!'s Last Christmas as a kind of warm-up song this past Friday for his Christmas edition of the Joup Friday Album. Then earlier today I grab my phone to message Tommy from Heaven is an Incubator with some Christmas cheer and what do I see?

2016 has claimed another victim. I watched Desperately Seeking Susan last night and now feel like maybe Madonna should lock herself in a panic room for the next week (that has a selfish backend to it as well - Madonna has done anything non-embarrassing in years; this would keep her safe while putting her out of our misery at the same time).

Anyway, Careless Whisper was the obvious go-to for all its forlorn reverie, but a bit too much on the nose me thinks. Instead I thought I'd do something different; another Wham! song I really dig. Rest in Peace GM. You were pretty awesome.

Alien: Covenant Trailer

Now please. First Blade Runner and now the new Alien (which I still kinda wish was Prometheus 2, but oh well, a new, good Alien film is not something I'm gonna complain about. Either way, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of Ridley Scott.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

New Perturbator! Uncanny Valley - Bonus

You know what I love? When I am able to post the words "New Perturbator!"

Buy it here and name your price!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I invent a lot of terminology for very specific reasons. Here's a dictionary.

Fan Inertia - when your fandom of anything shuts down your better judgment and/or critical analysis in blind obeisance to your fandom. Example: After seeing Tim Burton's latest film, I realized I haven't liked the last several he has made, despite saying I did for years. My fan inertia took over and blindly accepted these films despite realizing now I didn't really like them at all.

Deep Horror Intoxication - That feeling a Horror movie instills in you upon first viewing; the regular world dissipates and you are fully submerged in the experience the filmmaker has set out to bestow upon you.

Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve is easily one of the only 'newer' directors who are on my "Must See Their New Film Right Now" list,* so it's his name in the director column that almost trumps the Blade Runner franchise.

Almost. However, I looooove me some Blade Runner and based on this trailer they're a perfect match. I know, I know, you can't base much on a trailer - especially one this length, but I have fan inertia with both franchise and director so allow me the indulgence. Please. And seriously, just based on the imagery contained in these first, guarded glimpses I'm pretty sure this is going to hit the same sweet spot as the first. I mean, yes this is basically another "Harrison Ford passing the mantle to someone else, a la last year's The Force Awakens, but that worked out pretty good and I have a hunch this will work out better, even if I do sense a bit of a ham on his face as he emerges, gun-first, from the shadows. Still, move him out and bring the new guy up front, 'cuz what a new guy. What can I say?  I'm quite the fan of Ryan Gosling - his acting and his music (haven't seen Lost River yet so can't comment on his directing), so even in spite of j. leto's presence (which, as Chester Whelk's pointed out to me recently, may indeed be tolerable due to the most likely unintentional irony of him playing a replicunt) I can't wait for this one.


* Nicolas Winding Refn and Fede Alvarez being the others on the list.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Heaven's Endless Loop

Tommy, the man behind the always wonderful Heaven is an Incubator, also writes a lot of great stuff for an online magazine my friends and I contribute to called Joup. If you've been here before you probably know about it. Anyway, one of my favorite things to come out of Joup is Tommy's Endless Loop column; a weekly jaunt into the substance of those songs he confesses to be able to listen to endlessly. I can relate; at some point in my early thirties I developed a habit of looping tracks over and over again when I become obsessed with the mood they create in me. My point is I know Tommy's taste from reading his writing and I know when he says he can loop something then I'm in for a great track, whether I loop it or not. And this has bore out - I've picked up some absolute GEMS from Endless Loop. This week though, this week he hits it outta the park.

Tommy has a way of really summing things up succinctly and nowhere is that more evident than in his brief piece about Pulp's This is Hardcore, from the album of the same name - arguably the group's best - released in 1998. Follow the link below and then go seek out Heaven is an Incubator and book mark it. I guarantee you Tommy will turn you on to some amazing music if you do.

Well played Tommy. Well played...


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crystal Fairy - Chiseler

The upcoming Crystal Fairy record, out Feb 24th on Ipecac is quickly becoming my most anticipated record of early 2017. This new song, which the band dropped a couple of days ago, is not only fantastic, but I swear I can hear all or most of the individual musicians's signature sounds mixed up in this potpourri of awesomeness.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New At the Drive-In!

Wow. Didn't see that coming. If new ATDI was in the works I was completely in the dark about it. And I'm glad, because this is a fantastic surprise for a dour Thursday evening. Read more about it from my source, Brooklyn Vegan.

Them Are Us Too

Let me take you to hell before I take you to heaven.

This afternoon, as is my Thursday custom while navigating home from work on the dreaded 405 I tuned my radio dial to 88.9 FM for Michael Stock's always brilliant Part Time Punks radio show. If was a fairly normal day and my mood was even keel. At about 3:00 PM the show's appropriated theme song kicked in and I readied myself for awesomeness. After Heavenisanincubator, Mr. Stock is about the best damn musical curator/gatekeeper I know of and I value the music he introduces me to more than I can ever say. Today however, as the Television Personalities's ebbed out and Michael came on the mic something was amiss. You could immediately tell he was fighting back tears. I became tense; this was raw and unexpected and I tend to empathize strongly with people I care for, whether they are of the variety that I know personally or not. My weekly guide into music delivered a heartfelt and very emotional explanation for his state: a friend of his, Cash Askew, had died last weekend in the Oakland, CA fire that has peppered national news reports since. My heart went out to this man who has given so much to me from such a distance; as I listened to him describe his affection for Cash's band, Them Are Us Too I felt his loss, a loss no doubt shared by many others. He closed his opening in distress and began to play the band's music.

And I fell in love with yet another band Michael Stock has played on his radio show.

I did not know the people involved in this drama but this music, like so much of what Mr. Stock has turned me on to, is beautiful, amazing, and worth a lifetime of attention. I ordered a copy of Them Are Us Too's album Remain on vinyl (if you dig this and wish to follow suit you can do so on their record label Dais Record's website HERE) and said a silent salutation to the Universe on behalf of this lovely, fallen artist. I can think of no better way to honor her memory than by listening and sharing her music and donating to the Oakland Fire Relief Fund.

Below I've embedded Them Are Us Too's Part Time Punks Session. Follow this bandcamp link to hear Remain.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Night Jacket

I went to LA's The Echo this past Friday night to see The Bernard Lakes. They were amazing, as always. Also amazing was the band NightJacket, who played directly before them. Here's their band camp. Check it out. They're recording a new album after the first of the year and after hearing this one it's going right to the top of my 'can't wait for' list in 2017.

Friday, November 18, 2016

RIP Sharon Jones

Well 2016, I hope you're fucking happy. Jesus, can we just fast forward to 2017 already? Oh wait, that might not be the best solution...

Damn. This sucks. Here's one'a my favorites:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sister Hymns - American Nightmare

How appropriate, eh? Great new Doom/Stoner rock band from LA that kinda takes me back to the Kyuss days. And at $3 you really can't lose. Features Joey, the drummer formerly from Quiet.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Last week I finished Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks and, while I almost never go for expanded universe type stuff, this book, written in the guise of a secret document Chief Inspector Gordon Cole assigns to an FBI Agent investigating a crime that has ties to the now twenty-five year passed Laura Palmer case, is a MUST for Peaks fans. There's so many ways that an in-continuity novel could have gone wrong, but instead The Secret History of Twin Peaks does everything right.

Here's a clip Mr. Brown sent me of Mark Frost reading from the book (apparently the audio book version has some of the original cast members reading sections. Way to prompt me to get my first audio book Mr. Frost).

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Trainspotting Two Trailer

I am a HUGE fan of Irvine Welsh's fiction, so it was a little disappointing to hear that T2 would not move the characters down the paths outlined in all the subsequent novels that follow Mark, Simon, Spud and Franco. That said, this looks AWESOME! (plus of course in order to do the sequel to Transporting, Porno, they'd have to introduce the characters from Glue - my favorite Welsh novel - and that would really just move everything further down the timeline. I'm content letting film continuity be its own thing. As long as they work in some of my favorite Begbie moments and maybe throw in a cameo by Juice Terry somewhere along the way.

Thanks again to Mr. Brown for hitting me with this:

Public Service Announcement

Not going to get political here. For a great be-all, end-all Op-ed that pretty much sums up how I feel (although I think I dislike the candidate I'm forced to vote for infinitely more than Tommy does) read THIS. Otherwise, I just wanted to post this to say the OTHER offices, props and measures are actually considerably MORE important than the, ahem, highest office of the land. And this awesome little skit wherein you'll see plenty of people you'll recognize (especially if you were a fan of Whedon's tv stuff) is a great reminder of that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Crystal Fairy - Drugs on the Bus

What do you get when you take Buzz and Dale from the Melvins, Omar from Mars Volta/ATDI/Antemasque and Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes?

Fucking magic, that's what.

New record by this left-of-center super group out February 24th on Ipecac.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bohren & der Club of Gore - Der Angler

Via Mr. Brown. I first heard Bohren thanks to a posting on Warren Ellis's Whitechapel community board back in 2006 or 2007. It had a huge impact on me and Sunset Mission is still a record I listen to hundreds of times a year. It's great for late night writing, drinking or romance and sounds a bit - if I had to elevator pitch it - as Angelo Badalamenti Thought Gang if they died, went to hell and opened a swanky, downtempo jazz night club. If you're unfamiliar the post Mr. Brown sent me goes on to pimp a new anthology that comes out on Record Store Day this year. Bohren for Beginners looks as though it touches most if not all of their records and is available for pre-order on the band's bandcamp here.

Halloween Music Playlist

Image by the amazing Dark Town Sally. Link to her store below

Same as the movies but with the tightly curated music I've filled my October with. I'm album-oriented, especially in regards to this particular season, but for sheer pragmatism I'll simply post one song of each in a little playlist I made. All this stuff is from fantastic records though, and I urge you to seek them out!

And note - the image I used above is artwork by the INCREDIBLE Dark Town Sally. I strongly encourage anyone who loves Halloween to seek out her website and order some of her work!

Halloween Movie Playlist

Happy Halloween!

I've been so inspired by Tommy over at Heaven is an Incubator, who has been celebrating all month by posting a horror movie trailer a day, that I thought I'd do something something similar today. So, below are the trailers for every movie I've watched in the last two weeks or so. Most of these are every year October watches, but a few were fleeting dalliances. Enjoy.

Note: First flick I'll mention is the one on the list I refuse to post the trailer to, so I used the movie poster as my lead image. I do this because when I saw May I knew nothing about it and it completely floored me. The trailer gives too much away.

And finishing it up tonight with, of course:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Steve Dillon, 1962-2016

What a fucking shite day. Steve Dillon is responsible for the visual end of two of my top three comics of all times, Preacher and his run on Hellblazer, both with Garth Ennis. These are two books that made me laugh and, more rarely and importantly I'd say in comics, made me cry. His characters were so human, so fragile and - at times - so awful that, well, it reminds me now why this is so hard.

Rest in Peace Mr. Dillon. Thank you for making my life and the field of comics so much better than it would have been without you. Say hello to Bill Hicks and know there will be many raising a pint in your honor tonight.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Ghost Tonight at the Wiltern!!!

And I cannot wait! Also, intrigued as to who is opening the show. Last night's was Deafheaven and although I would have loved to see them I have a pretty good feeling about the fact that they haven't announced anything yet (at least that I have seen).

I'm not quite as rabidly into the new Popestar E.P. as I am the group's previous recordings, but this particular song I LOVE (the rest I'm warming to and, really, any Ghost is good in my book).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chasms Opened for Ritual Howls the other night...

... and I had a profound experience hearing/seeing their music for the first time. It was a magickal night; rain in Los Angeles - so rare - timed perfectly to coincide with this band's music. I've been high on the vibe ever since.

Tickets just went on sale for Chasms's next LA show went on sale today. Saturday December 10th at the Echo. I will absolutely be there and recommend that if you dig this, you should go here and buy their album and seriously consider going to the show.

Felte Records does it again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Pretty Cool Interview with Jason Newsted

Stumbled onto this earlier tonight and ended up getting fairly absorbed in it. Gonna have to break Justice out sometime soon. Been a minute.

Ritual Howls - No Witnesses

one of my favorite album covers in recent memory

Spurred by seeing them live this past Sunday (review of the show is coming soon) I finally ordered Ritual Howl's 2014 album Turkish Leather. It is fantastic. This right here is one of my favorite tracks and if you follow this link you can read a great interview with Paul Bancell over at Seventh Hex. Mr. Bancell discusses all sorts of interesting ideas pertaining to the group's writing process, including the origin of this particular song.

If you dig the track I'd strongly recommend heading over to the group's bandcamp where you can pick up Turkish Leather and the Howl's newest album Into the Water for a steal.

New Twin Peaks Promo

Image by @austinshaddix

Courtesy of Mr. Brown.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Odonis Odonis Interview NOW Magazine

Can you tell I'm obsessed with this band? Here's a great interview.

Post Plague has been my 'album of the year' since about five seconds into Needs the first time I heard it back in the spring. Hasn't been topped yet (though label mates Ritual Howls come pretty close) specially after seeing them live at the Echoplex last Thursday, when not only did they do every song I would have asked to hear had I realized they were opening the bill and thus playing a shorter set, but closed with a perfect cover of this old classic:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dawn of the Dead 3D at Beyond Fest 2016

I will admit that while I have extremely low tolerance for the Zombie film as a genre there are several Zombie-related stories in popular culture that inspire an allegiance in me that little else receives. My Zombie list goes like this, not in any order of preference:

Night of the Living Dead
Dawn of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
The Walking Dead (comic)

That's it. I don't hate everything else Zombie-related by I dislike most of it*. Or rather, maybe it's just that I don't have time for most of the rest of it. All that said, if asked what I think is the absolute pinnacle of films on the subject I would answer without hesitation George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. I feel as though Dawn does everything a Zombie story should do, from chronicle the dismemberment of social/political and economic structures amidst the ensuing chaos to addressing the modern human psyche's reaction to not only the stresses resultant from those structures ending but to themes of isolation, agoraphobia and, ultimately, the Lord of the Flies survival mechanism that would no doubt cause other humans to become an even bigger threat than those shambling monstrosities waiting to eat your flesh.

Thanks to the labors of original Dawn of the Dead** Producer Richard P. Rubenstein Dawn of the Dead has now been converted to a BEAUTIFULLY rendered 3D experience and while I generally take 3D with a grain of salt, if you are a Dawn fan this is a MUST SEE.

Saturday, 10/08/16 I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of this newly converted film thanks once again to the fine folks at Beyond Fest and The Egyptian Theatre. To say it was one of my favorite theatrical experiences from over my 40 years on this Earth is not hyperbolic. Mr. Rubenstein spoke before and after the film, going out of his way to not only explain the conversion impetus and process, but also to assure everyone that "This is 100% George's film - I did not alter it at all". Mr. Rubenstein also went on to talk about his plans to get this version of the film into Cinemas across the country and finally to assure everyone that the 2D version is not going anywhere.

Also, if you're a fan of The Walking Dead but have not seen this film before I can't recommend it enough, in either 3D or 2D. As the first Zombie film to address the above-mentioned themes of extinction, isolation and inter-species betrayal Dawn is quite literally where The Walking Dead comes from - its part of TWD's DNA. In fact, Robert Kirkman has stated in interviews that the original title for TWD was Night of the Living Dead and that it would continue the "Universe" that Mr. Romero began. Obviously that title did not happen, but the plot absolutely did; I've always read TWD with the idea firmly in place that this was the further evolution of Romero's world.

To further celebrate this historic piece of horror cinema I'm going to embed a making of I found on youtube while searching for a trailer to post. Enjoy.


*I should also clarify that I am most definitely a fan of 28 Days/Weeks later but do not consider those Zombie flicks

** Mr. Rubenstein also produced the remake, as well as most of Mr. Romero's classic canon of films

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Phantasm 4K and Part V at Beyond Fest

Last Saturday, October 1st I attended a double bill comprised of the Bad Robot 4k, 5.1 surround re-mastered version of the original Phantasm and the premiere of the looooong awaited Phantasm V: Ravager, thanks to the good folks that hold Beyond Fest every year at the Egyptian Theatre.

Dining beforehand right next door to the Egyptian at the Pig and Whistle, my better half, best friend and I almost missed the fact that fans began to line up about two hours before the admittance time. We made it inside in time to find seats and shortly thereafter the guys from Beyond Fest took the stage in Angus Scrimm wigs and full-fan fervor. They pumped the crowd up for what was to many their umpteenth dozen time watching Don Coscarelli's 1977 classic. And you know, I'm one of them repeat viewers (not as many as some but perhaps more than most) and I have to tell you, no hyperbole here, seeing the restoration on a big screen as awesome as the one in the Egyptian, with their massive sound system cranked, it was almost like I had never seen it before. There is so much more color, texture and detail, so many more layers to the sound mix that many of those profound 'WTF?' moments in Phantasm struck me again, as if for the first time. It was magical.

Afterward Coscarelli himself, along with Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester, Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury and a whole host of other folks involved in the franchise took the stage or stood for acknowledgement and we were treated to an awesome interview that touched on the early ideas, process and legacy of the Tall Man and his jawa-dwarves.

It was awesome.

Afterward we were treated to the Los Angeles premiere of Phantasm V: Ravager and although I didn't really care for it - Phantasm kinda ends with number two for me - it was still cool to see it on the big screen, surrounded by a huge room of other fans.

Beyond Fest, how I love you...

And this Saturday we're returning to Beyond Fest to see another classic - George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, in 3D no less! Honestly, the 3D will be cool but it's unnecessary to me; I've just always wanted to see what I consider probably the best Zombie movie ever on the big screen.

If you want to see what else is playing/played at Beyond Fest this year here's the link to their schedule. I wish I could make more screenings than I have, but you know, bloody work and all.

Viva La Beyond Fest!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Trapped Within Burning Machinery

Wow. Had never heard of this band before today. Fell immediately in love with their new record The Fifth Element. They are playing the first night of Midnight Communion in LB. Might just have to go, if only to see them.

Steve Moore's ST for Joe Bego's The Mind's Eye...

... is being released on December 2nd by Relapse Records! I am PSYCHED! Just received my copy of the Blu Ray for The Mind's Eye, one of my favorite flicks from last year and one that I saw premiere last October at the 2015 Beyond Fest. Now, almost a year later to the day, I get news of the awesome, synth-ridden nightmare score from Zombi's Steve Moore as well!

The final months of 2016 are proving to be ripe with awesomeness! (and bloody expensive).

Thanks be to Heavenisanincubator for turning me onto Begos in the first place with this write-up of his first film, Almost Human, on Joup!

Monday, September 26, 2016

John Carpenter's Utopian Facade


New Dillinger Escape Plan - Symptom of Terminal Illness

As you can no doubt tell from my previous post, I have a really hard time admitting I like anything Metallica has done since the 80s. I do not have that problem with DEP. If October 14th is the release date of what will truly be their final album, we will be losing not only one of the greatest live bands ever (of course they can't possibly perform the way they do on into middle age) but also one of the most interesting evolutions in heavy music.

Either way, end of not, this track is awesome and like nothing I would have expected from them.

Another new, Good Metallica song

If CERN's P.A. is on the fritz, a new, GOOD record by these guys might herald the end of all things

What the hell has gone wrong with the time/space continuum? Someone please go check CERN's particle accelerator and make sure we haven't phased our Universe into another, better one. I mean, TWO new, GOOD songs by they who shant not be named? Wow. I'm still not holding my breath, and whether or not the new Metallica album is good or not probably won't affect my life in any way shape or form. But maybe it will.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Youth in Bloom - Crescent Waves

Very cool, shoegazey track with just the right amount of a nostalgic vibe that harkens back to the 90s. There's a definite resurgent zeitgeist of this stuff recently. Or at least there is in LA where Part Time Punks has turned me onto a lot of great new bands doing this kind of slightly retro sound. Anybody else out there feel this way too? If so, recommend me some bands.

If you dig, the digital E.P. is only $5 on their bandcamp HERE and the vinyl is $10 HERE.

Mike Mendez's Don't Kill It

Ever since The Convent Mike Mendez has been a director who I keep my eyes peeled for new projects from. After just posting the trailer to The Last Heist not so terribly long ago now we have another film from him, this one with none other than Dolph Lundgren playing a demon hunter! If anyone else was running this show I'd probably avoid it, but I'm pretty sure this will be great.

Goat Girl - Country Sleeze

Love this. Has there ever been a crappy band on Rough Trade? Order the 7" here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra - Blood Moon

When this video began I thought for sure I was going to hate it. I've been waiting for Giraffe Tongue Orchestra's first record with bated breath and usually I'm already that anticipatory toward something I hold off watching or listening to anything until I can hit the entire record as a whole. Well, the album drops this Friday but I couldn't wait when I saw this in my inbox this morning, courtesy of Mr. Brown. And like I said, from the opening thirty second or so I thought I'd made a mistake.

Suffice it to say this is why we don't judge books by their covers - or videos by their opening moments. I was laughing out loud by 2:15 in.

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, by the way, is the new band that features the following humans:

Ben Weinman (founding member of Dillinger Escape Plan)
William DuVall (Alice in Chains)
Brent Hinds (Mastodon)
Pete Griffin (Family Guy, Dethklok)
Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta)

Yeah, that's why I've been waiting with bated breath. Drops Friday - go snap that little bastard up at your local independent record store. I'll be hitting LBC's Fingerprints after work.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

For The Love of Comic Books...

... is a new column I started on Joup. It's the replacement piece for Thee Comic Column and meant to be considerably more interactive with my fellow writers at Joup. In this inaugural edition I talk about Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser's new series from Image, Kill or Be Killed. It's awesome. Read my thoughts here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pearl Jam - Porch on SNL 1992

I'd never seen this before. Not the biggest Pearl Jam fan - love first and most of the second record, pretty much stopped after that. I've always respected them as a band though, even if it's a once in a blue moon event for me to actually throw one of those two records on to listen to.

Until recently. I spoke about the reasons why I am currently indoctrinating myself with music from my high school years in this week's edition of The Joup Friday Album. Both those first two PJ records fit into that, especially the first one and especially this song. I got chills watching this a minute ago, so I had to jot it down here for posterity's sake. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dumb Numbers video Stars David Yow, features Kimmy Robertson

So good to hear David Yow on vocals again. Even better to see his performance on the screen. I laughed out loud several times, loved 'Lucy''s cameo and will be utterly surprised if this doesn't clock in as the best video I see this year. I was unfamiliar with Dumb Numbers before this but after a little digging around I found this and have realized I can no longer live without this band.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Opeth - Sorceress

Opeth is amazing. And though I haven't been able to get into anything the band has done since they began down the prog path on Watershed, I still enjoy keeping tabs on them. This new track is no different. I probably won't buy the record, but I'm glad Opeth is still out there challenging themselves and making great music. This is the title track from their new record, out 9/30.

And actually, before I go I want to drop a link. Directly after I just stated I would probably not buy Sorceress I read Max Frank's opinions on the record over at Metal Sucks and I have to say, it might just be the reference to Davis and Friedkin, or the comparison to Fleetwood Mac, but now I think Sorceress might be the first Opeth post Watershed that I really try to sink my teeth into.

Unholy Cow! New Ghost (and it's AWESOME)

This band gets better and better. Can't wait to see them next month!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - One More Time with Feeling

Last night I went to Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theatre to attend the premiere screening of Andrew Dominick's new film One More Time With Feeling, the documentary that follows Nick Cave's creative process for the new album Skeleton Tree, out today. The film is dark and beautiful; a true document of a family's grief in a time of unrelenting tragedy.

Skeleton Tree was on sale a day early at the select theatres that participated in last night's screening. Of course I purchased a copy and listened to it on my drive home after the screening. Both the album and the film are massive, world-rending documents of Nick Cave at this point in time and space. There is so much pain, so much chaos in the wake of his loss, and brother it's stitched in wounds across both these two pieces of art.

You'll notice I keep coming back to the word 'document' while referring to the film and now the album. There's no other word for either, and while that's to be expected of the film - as it is a 'documentary' - my reference to the album in the same capacity deserves some explanation.

In 2014's film 20,000 Days On Earth Cave talks about his creative processHe talks about and shows us his office - an integral part of the creation of every album; a room within which Cave gestates his ideas; a room that eventually becomes both a shrine and a tombstone to the album of the moment. A room that he eventually finds easier to replace than to strike back to zero. At the time this window into his process felt like an enormous revelation for me, and yet in retrospect it was really no real surprise at all. Cave's output is almost more literary than musical and as such I'd always indirectly imagined him growing into the space around him while creating*. Seeing it in 20,000 Days on Earth (pictured above) that space felt very womb-like; apropos, as his ideas eventually do shatter their chrysalis and emerge into the world as albums, books, movies. All the output from Cave and his band we know and love, all of which have previously had one thing in common - the final product a much-slaved over work of intricate perfection.

Skeleton Tree is not this AT ALL.

Skeleton Tree is a document - a beautifully flawed "capture" of time and emotion; a raw, emotively heavy excretion of pain and suffering and a sudden uncertainty expressed by Nick Cave and his world by Nick Cave and his world. Everyone involved is in pain, everyone involved is overcome by emotion, and everyone involved does not quite see what the next chapter will bring. A hard-won certainty - at his life, his career, his process, his mind and his family - is gone and Cave stands on a precipice that seems both devastating and sickeningly exhilarating. Andrew Dominik is a friend of Cave's and as such was allowed unprecedented access to both his process and grief. Thus, One More Time with Feeling is a hard watch. It is also a must for fans of Mr. Cave's. This is a man's soul laid bare through his process and its resulting art, and it is beautiful in the way that cemeteries, death and sorrow so often are despite the fact that from our perspective we are unable to see them as such.

Godspeed Nick Cave. My heart - a mere whisper in the darkness surrounding your world - goes out to you and your family.


 *An image I believe first struck me when I first attempted to read his novel When the Ass Saw the Angel - a book I did not finish and have been meaning to come back to now for about eleven years. Might be time.

In A Valley Of Violence

I feel as though I have been waiting for the new film by Ti West forever. I remember feeling the same way for The House of the Devil and despite that wait resulting in particularly insane levels of expectation I was not disappointed. I seriously doubt I will be for In a Valley of Violence, despite the presence of possibly my least favorite actor of all time (I won't name names, but here's a hint). Ti West's new feature film is out October 21st. I am posting this trailer here but would like to note that I have not and likely will not watch it. I want to go into this one as blind as possible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Swans Live

Last Friday night I saw Swans live at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. This tour, supporting the group's newest record The Glowing Man, is the last in the current line-up Swans founder/mastermind Michael Gira has been utilizing to record a truly stellar run of albums that have completely re-invented/re-invigorated the group over the last few years. I'd not seen Swans live before - I've really only gotten fanatically into them since 2012's The Seer - and I wanted to be sure I did before this iteration ended. It was at amazing; in every sense both an ordeal and a learning experience.

You simply cannot understand the sonic experience of Swans live until you see them. You just can't. When you hear things like 'they play dangerously loud', even if you're not necessarily discounting the statement as hyperbolic, you still just cannot imagine HOW LOUD it is.

Pain. Yes, pain.

And while this is a bit of a bad thing, it is also awesome in the truest sense of that very over-used word. Awe-inspiring. 60% of the experience Friday night was observing the physiological reaction my body was having to the sound waves unleashed upon it. Then there was the psychological reaction, and the emotional. It was, in a very real sense, an altered state. A magickal one. At that volume the music has a palpable physical presence - you know what it's like when something alien invades your personal space? That begins to approach the presence I'm talking about. It was, incredible.

If you have the chance to see Swans before this tour is over and you want something unlike anything else, please go. Michael Gira is a true artist/shaman/catalyst and we need to support people like him, so they continue to do the things they do. But I would add, if you do go, bring ear plugs. You may choose to forgo using them, but at least give yourself the option.

The video is not from the show I saw, but I thought it a good example of what the band looks and sound like live. Without the volume I describe above, of course.

Mike Caputo's Island Exotica

Mike Caputo is a friend of mine from waaay back in the Old School. Great guy. I haven't seen him in years but every once in a while social media leads to an interaction and I'm always thrilled by the life he's leading in Hawaii. Caputo is the original free spirit, balancing our middle-aged responsibility with an eternal sense of fun and, more importantly, happiness. He surfs, he shoots photography, has an amazing IG account where he posts series of photo shoots that recreate classic movies (his Big Lebowski series is my personal favorite) and now he even makes short films.

Here's the first one Mike shared with me. I love it.

Island Exotica: Super 8mm Surfing from Mike Caputo on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Black Sabbath - After Forever

Coming back home to my native environment in the Midwest during August is a toss up, however it's one that's worked pretty much to my favor two years in a row. But I ain't pushing it; back to October from here on out. I miss Autumn, a season we don't have where we live now. That said, I can't complain; for two years in a row I've gotten a minimum of the hot, muggy crap and instead had some really nice thunderstorms and a generally cooler atmosphere than I would have expected. In the midst of that kind of cooler temperature I've been able to hit the woods and explore some old haunts. I spent a lot of time in the forest preserves of the greater Chicagoland area during my formative years and one of the things that always accompanied them - other than a particular green and leafy vegetable consumed via smoke inhalation - is Black Sabbath. It is, in a word, in my blood.

I still listen to Sabbath on a somewhat regular basis, going through seemingly unprompted jags from time to time back home in my adopted Los Angeles, but it's not quite the same. And usually there's a whole host of new music that demands my making new Chicago memories with when I come home to visit. This year though, maybe because of the rain and the forest preserves, I'm stuck on an Endless Loop of Sabbath while I'm here. And "After Forever", a song I've always loved as part of the overall oeuvre of the band but never really focused too much on for its individual traits within that oeuvre, has become something of an obsession for me at the moment.

Master of Reality, the record upon which the track in question is found, has never been one of the go-to Sabbath records for me. Well, really the entire run of albums the band put out with John "Ozzy" Osbourne are go-to records, but within that run there are favorites I harbor. Mine have always been the Eponymous first record, Vol. 4 and the band's masterpiece, Sabotage. Surprisingly to many, even their often maligned second to last with John, Technical Ecstasy probably clocks more yearly spins that M.O.R. Which is interesting when you stop to consider that at least three of the tracks on M.O.R. are among my favorite Sabbath tracks. "Into the Void" was one of the first tracks I ever heard by the band and both that and "Lord of the World" have what might be my favorite riffs by Iommi. And the quiet "Solitude" has always captivated me with it's eerie, serene beauty. Despite all this, the record has always struck me as a bit abbreviated. "Embryo" and "Orchid", the two instrumentals that serve as introductions for longer, thicker tracks are both beautiful, but when you have a thirty second and a two minute instrumental that count as two of eight tracks that comprise a record, weeeellll... And yes, several of the other tracks are rather meaty, but I still always feel M.O.R. is over before it begins.

Anyway, because of this stigma I've created for my relationship with this record - still an amazing record - "After Forever" has spent the last fifteen years perpetually slipping below my radar. So I guess now, while the rain's flowing and the forest preserves of my hometown call to me, I'll give it its due.

Volume knob set firmly at 11.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gravitysays_i - Quantum Unknown (Riveted Eye) Official Audio

I'm currently traveling in the Midwest and amidst the endless hours of trying to see all my friends, trying to eat all the food that I so dearly miss (but am glad I do not consume save for once a year) and the subsequent celebratory imbibing that accompanies both there have been few quiet moments for peace.

Not a complaint.

Still, at 40 there is no possible way I can keep up the pace I have in years past on these trips and I find myself in need of a few hours of downtime.

This morning was it. Rest and relaxation with a head full of hauntings, most good, some undetermined at this point. My book is done - in the hands of my first two 'beta readers' and I'm working on a new short story. While doing so I realized there's a whole host of things I haven't gotten to yet, not the least of which is the new record by Gravitysays_i, a record the group's publicist very graciously sent me and I haven't had a chance to ingest yet. So I spent some time this morning sipping hot, black coffee and giving Quantum Unknown a first go round. Not only was I not disappointed (I was completely unfamiliar with Gravitysays_i previously) but I found it was the perfect record to spend a couple of hours decompressing and taking an account of the 'inner landscape' after all this hullabaloo. Give the first officially released song a gander and then grab Quantum Unknown from Inner Ear Records on September 16th.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ritual Howls - Spirit Murder

best band photo ever?
So this dropped yesterday. The new album by Ritual Howls, Into the Water, is a breathtakingly dark contemplation on - these ears - broken cityscapes, dangerous situations and the endless enigma of frustration that defines modern life.

Song title sooo makes me think of Barry Adamson's Soul Murder. Just saying.

Yeah, it's fucking fantastic. Buy it here.

Well, This is a Surprise: Metallica's Hard Wired

I never thought I'd be posting a Metallica song on this blog - certainly not one written after 1988. But I'll be damned if this isn't a great, very old school without sounding contrived (ahem, death magnetic) track that, while Some Kind of Monster may have forever killed my opinion of these guys as artists, well, I can jam to this. Or at least the vestiges of 16 year old Shawn that still blares Master of Puppets now and again can. Shit, just listen to that fucking solo - it sounds straight off Kill 'Em All.

Fucking terrible album cover though, so I didn't use that as the graphic.