Friday, April 29, 2016

The Kills - Heart of a Dog

New Kills. 'Nuff said. Not a huge fan of these types of videos, but here I really like how and where they utilized their backgrounds.

June 3rd is the new record (pre-order here), which I've rabidly been waiting for since seeing them live for the first time last year at Pomona's Glass House. They're not playing LA on their current tour - San Francisco is the closest they're coming and as much as I'd LOVE to road trip up, that is not in the cards at the moment.  But if they come near you go. Trust me.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Negativeland Co-Founder Passes

Okay, can we agree that 2016 is a little bit out of control with the musician deaths? The legendary musician deaths?

Richard Lyons - I didn't actively know his name until last night. I was stranded in W. LA due to nightmare-level traffic, sitting at a Coffee Bean writing about Prince's death when the following text came through:

Much like a lot of Prince's later work I hadn't kept up with Negativeland in a while. The last piece I saw/heard was the Deathsentences of the Polished and Structurally Weak and that was in 2002 while recording at the wonderful Apocalypse Cow recording studio in Montgomery, Illinois where proprietors the Brooks Brothers brought me up to speed on the then-latest NL project. But Negativeland's work takes time to appreciate and that's something I've had considerably less of over the fifteen years since. Even with a record store like the pretty much all-encompassing Amoeba relatively nearby I just haven't kept up. That however, does not change the fact that Negativeland - the group Mr. Lyons helped co-found, released a handful of albums that I did encounter in the past and that had enormous impact on my life, mind and art.

The first of these was Helter Stupid, which I seriously cannot recommend enough. That said, what Negativeland does isn't exactly music so you have to reasonably curate how and when you engage with it. Think of this more as media-splicing/sound collage with the intent of deprogramming some of the more residual and insidious modern day marketing shrapnel that gets lodged in our circuit boxes just by driving past billboards, catching a few moments of television while sitting in the dentist's waiting room or suffering through even a few small moments of terrestrial radio while in the office.

Helter Stupid, in true NL fashion, samples the group's "breakout" track - I'd imagine they'd laugh at that - Christianity is Stupid. This made a HUGE impact on me at the time, and it's confrontational yet hilarious delivery very much influenced a project Mr. Brown and I did in the early 00s - C-Building Kids.

Brown took to the group even more than I did, and scooped up the group's descertation on the 'cola wars' and advertising in general, Dispepsi pretty much the day it came out. This one was in heavy rotation in our rehearsal space; at the time we were in a band called Schlitz Family Robinson that actively tried to incorporate strange recording techniques/samples/sonic detritus into our sound and Dispepsi opened up all kinds of new doors for us in that regard.

Richard Lyons and Negativeland helped further introduce me to new and left-of-center ideas for what 'music' can be, or maybe more appropriately what a band can be. Hearing about his death - and holy cow two other members of the band having also passed on since 2015 - has left me feeling a little bit older than even the Prince exodus did.

Read all about Richard Lyons in a great article on Consequence of Sound here and enjoy Christianity is Stupid below.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rest in Purple

I almost posted something when I heard the news of Prince's death this morning but I stopped myself. I was at work, entering long strings of data into a spreadsheet and trying to jar myself awake by listening to Iron Maiden on my headphones. During the resultant trance-like state two things happened simultaneously: first, just as one song ended and another was about to begin I overhead two of my co-workers talking in a vague way about what sounded like a celebrity death. Second, a text bubble popped up on my phone. It was from my friend Ray. Without stopping my typing I looked down and saw this:
The two disparate streams of  information collided in my mind and in total shock I said the following sentence very loudly, "What? Prince can't be dead!" I said this so loud that one of the girls who works in another department came over to see if I needed help. A few minutes later she left and another person from a department even farther away came over and gave me a hug. He was wearing purple, of all colors.

Now, I am not a the biggest Prince fan. But I am a Prince fan. Especially the Prince who helmed the Revolution for the iconic record/movie Purple Rain. As for his other music, there's lots I like and some I could never hear again and not care. As Tommy from Heaven Is An Incubator laments in his own post pertaining to this momentous loss for the music community, because of our age Prince's music was something of a backdrop to our generation's entire childhood. Growing up in the 80s Prince was EVERYWHERE, literally. And it wasn't just the songs he performed, it was also the material that he wrote for other performers: Sheila E., Sheena Easton, The Bangels, Morris Day, Stevie Nicks. As I got older the extremely unique sounds Prince made with his music followed me, often in sneaky or almost subconscious ways. The first song on Public Enemy's masterpiece Fear of A Black Planet, "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" is loaded with samples of Prince's guitar. Skinny Puppy's bleak and brilliant Last Rites has snippets of Prince's weird, over-flanged percussion laced throughout. Later still, one of my all-time favorite bands - Ween - covered Prince, lovingly lampooned him and downright homaged him on many, many occasions. But the older I became the more Prince's influence on my musical life remained peripheral; the cassette copy of Purple Rain that my cool, older cousin Jim gave me for Christmas the year it came out was worn out long ago and the only Prince I'd had in the collection through my thirties was a beat-up copy of Sign O' The Times on vinyl and a double-disc greatest hits my ex-wife had brought with her to our twelve year sharing of a music collection. When she moved out all that went away. Luckily though...

Every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts something called Cinespia - an organization that projects movies on the side of a mausoleum in the cemetery's enormous - and beautiful - grounds. Ray and I, along with several of our other friends, go to as many of these Saturday night screenings every year as possible. Two summers ago Cinespia showed Purple Rain. I hadn't seen it since the 80s and Ray's a fan so we went and it completely re-inspired me to love Prince. Again, not all his music, but for that album in particular. I've long said that when he's gone Prince would be remembered as probably the single greatest driving force in the Pop music of the 80s. After watching Purple Rain and then re-buying and binging on it hardcore for a few weeks I had an even deeper realization about this record:

As far as records go, Purple Rain is the Philosopher's Stone of the 80s.

Now, when I say Philosopher's Stone I need to quantify what I'm talking about. I've approached this concept previously but in less specific terms. Obviously in every decade or 'era' of music there are movements, fashions, trends and scenes. And somewhere within all those dark and incestuous nooks and crannies I believe there is one album that perfectly sums everything else up. For the 80s I would argue that album was Purple Rain. Prince's 1984 masterpiece is a microcosm of nearly everything musical that surrounds it; there's elements of Funk, Soul, New Wave, Metal (that serpentine guitar lick in Computer Blue? Those blast beats in the last third of Darling Nikki that I never noticed before I reengaged with it? Metal baby); Purple Rain has it all and what's more all of those seemingly disparate elements are perfectly synthesized into a coherent whole. That's the key. For perspective I've argued elsewhere that the 90's Philosopher Stone album was the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head, another synthesis of the musical world around it.

(Incidentally, I don't think we have enough distance from the 00s yet to determine what might be that era's Philosopher's Stone, but I'd also argue in a few years we might look back and say that because of the democratization and decentralization of music that particular era ushered in there actually might not be one).

With all of this said I need to end this diatribe before I become any more grandiose. Not possible you say? Believe me, it is. So to finish I will leave you with a video a friend showed me a couple years ago. This thing just blew me away. No matter how you feel about the musicians that are on stage to begin with, watch this all the way through because at approximately 3:28 this rendition of what might just be my favorite Beatles song becomes god-like. And Prince? Rest in Purple sir. Rest in Purple.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Remember That Time When...

Nice shorts, douche a new rotating column Grez started on Joup back in January. I picked up the thread this morning amidst reports of G-n-R's Las Vegas show by remembering the time in 1992 when Axl Rose cheated me out of 15 free concert tickets to see his band. Read about it here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Drinking w/ Comics Special Guest: David F. Walker

Luke Cage all the rage? Can't wait for Danny Rand? Well, watch Mike and I talk to the man writing 'em in Marvel's Power Man and Iron Fist. And check out Mr. Walker's website for a whole boatload of goodies!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Perturbator May 6th!!!

While I've been secluded trying to finish the novel that does not want to be finished I've almost missed out on a bunch of great music. Luckily while writing this afternoon I threw on an old favorite and was inspired to check up on what Perturbator has been up to.

Good thing I did because the new record, The Uncanny Valley, drops in just about two weeks!

I cannot wait to get this, as it feels like I've been listening to Dangerous Days for years at this point (probably because, like Heavenisanincubator, I haven't been able to stop listening to it in voracious aural jags since Dangerous Days was released!). The Uncanny Valley is a sequel to DD, taking place 40 years down the road and set in Neo Tokyo. What a fantastic description for such visual music.

Check out She Moves Like a Knife and then high tail it over to the aforementioned best got-damned music blog in the megaverse for the official, 8-bit animated music video to yet another new track from The Uncanny Valley, this one titled Sentient. And go pre-order the album from Blood Music, the hardest working indie record label in the business!