Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Question of Hawkeyes


Hawkeye put this on my radar, and I could literally listen to it all day. Depeche Mode has always been one of those bands that confound me in a way. I've loved pretty much all of their singles since I was a kid and first heard People Are People, but whenever I try to get into an entire album, they always fall flat for me and I just go back to the singles. Because of this, I am completely unfamiliar with large swathes of their discography, and A Question of Lust falls into that category. 


Speaking of Hawkeye, I finally caught up by binging all six episodes in 24 hours. I absolutely loved this one. 

I am SO excited for the street-level aspect of the MCU that we're seeing here and which, I believe, will now continue in the Spider-Man series. Plus, I WANT A NEW SERIES WITH CHARLIE COX'S DAREDEVIL!

Ahem. Apologies, but that's been building for quite some time. As excited as I was for the third season of the Netflix Daredevil show to do Bullseye, I never bothered watching it because the series had been canceled by the time it arrived. Now, I can go back and rewatch seasons one and two, then go right into three.


A decidedly light NCBD, and I'm going to try to keep it that way.

I tried reading that Ram V Swamp Thing series that began at the beginning of the year, but I just couldn't hang with it. This, however, is Jeff Lemire and Doug Mahnke in prestige, Black Label format. Can't be missed. 

The fifth and final issue of the recent Kang The Conqueror series ended a bit ambiguously, but I guess that's what happens when your narrative twists in and out of time like Kang's does. Either way, there were moments of absolute, 70s Marvel brilliance in it (issue 4 especially), and I'm a card-carrying Kang fan, so there's no way I'm missing whatever this is.

Another new Stray Dogs comic! This is only a two-issue reexamination of the events of the first series from different angles (how do I know that? Listen to Chris Sanders, Adam Marcus and I interview the writer Tony Fleecs HERE), but any Stray Dogs is great Stray Dogs, so I'm in. Oh yeah, and here's another variant cover I'll never score.

While we're on the topic of comics, I realized I left off two HUGE entries to my favorite comics of 2021 list, so I've added them as addendums on the original post


Fleet Foxes - A Very Lonely Solstice
Fleet Foxes - Eponymous
John Coltrane - Blue Trane
The Hacker - Rêves Mecaniques
Genghis Tron - Dream Weapon
Eldovar - A Story of Light and Darkness
Adam Egypt Mortimer - The Obelisk
Pilot Priest and Electric Youth - Come True OST


A vital engagement with a project, new or old, head-on.

Perfectly describes my Tuesday, let's see if I can't carry that into today.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

My Top Albums of 2021

2021 was a weird year for music. I spent A LOT of time on albums that came out in previous years. So much so, I wasn't entirely certain I could pick ten records that had a huge impact on me. Some of these have ended up here despite my having not fully ingested them yet. That's okay, I always know the special ones the moment I hear them (for the most part).

Here then, are my ten favorite records released this year:

Jerry Cantrell - Brighten: This is the album I've been waiting for Jerry Cantrell to make for years, and its arrival serves as the beginning of a new role for him in relation to popular music. Cantrell has always been a sage, but previously he's been reluctant about it. Brighten shows him aging into this new position in a way so as to best take advantage of the role as a songwriter and musician. Brighten is big and filled with living reflections, a man looking behind him to better inform his path into the future. The songs hit hard, because, despite a decade between us, I can completely relate. Aging is rough, but you have to take what you can from it, use your mistakes and triumphs to make the future better. 

Also, bringing Greg Puciato into the fold earns JC enormous goodwill in my book. 

Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs: Spare Ribs hit at exactly the right time, in my opinion, to make it both extremely poignant socially and serve as the most idealized presentation of Sleaford Mods' sound to date (I say that at the risk of having Williamson dismiss my assessment as 'cuntish'). These guys have a social perspective that previously made their minimalist approach to songwriting feel a lot bigger than it might have seemed at first glance. With Spare Ribs, the music has caught up. 

Ministry: Moral Hygiene: I'm not entirely sure when the last time a Ministry album made it onto one of my year-end lists. Maybe 2007's The Last Sucker, because, while I've liked most of the band's releases, I haven't loved any since Sucker. Moral Hygiene, however, is a return to form for Uncle Al and his cohorts. This makes perfect sense, as who else could you expect to chronicle the shitstorm of the last two years into pulse-pounding, cynical Industrial Metal that perfectly represents where we are in relation to our planet and technology? 

Perturbator - Lustful Sacraments: How so many fans turned their backs on James Kent for this album blows my mind because to me, Lustful Sacraments is an evolution for him as an artist that makes 100% perfect sense. It's deep, layered with nuance and knows when to take huge swings - all of which land. Incorporating more traditional "band" elements is no doubt a turn-off to some old-school fans who want another Dangerous Days. For myself, I'm happy to go wherever Kent's artistic wanderlust takes him.

Mastodon - Hushed and Grim: Double albums almost never work, yet they remain a rite of passage for bands. Hushed and Grim is probably the most solid of the like to come out in three decades. There's no excess here, nothing is superfluous. Each of the songs helps to expand Mastodon's sound, while as an overall cycle, all fifteen tracks form a solid, coherent whole. Not a feat easily mastered, but then, Mastodon has become one of the best bands around. 

Odonis Odonis - Spectrums: After 2016's Post Plague ranked as my number one album that year, I've not even really liked anything Odonis Odonis has done since. Spectrums is a return to form for the group, running the line between industrial and electro in a way that feels unique to this particular band, thrilling and a little crazy.

Adam Egypt Mortimer - The Obelisk: Filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer conjures another dimension with The Obelisk. This is unlike anything else I've ever heard, and for that reason alone, it garners my praise. But moving beyond the stunning adventure of the album's occult soundscapes, everything about the textures AEM uses to construct this fit into my favorite types of music. Sparse beats, analog synth, brooding overtones and flitting, ghostly flourishes of voices and who knows what the hell else. This is another one of those records that opens a door I feel as though I've been waiting my entire life to step through.

Eldovar: A Story of Darkness and Light: I stumbled across this record by the combined talents of Elder and Kadavar with no previous knowledge of either band's work. I think I may have listened to an Elder album at some point, but I remember nothing about that previous engagement with them. This then was a complete surprise. From the opening notes of the record, an immediate comparison to Led Zeppelin came to me. Not because of the sound of the music, per se, but because of the timeless aesthetic applied here. I believe this is what some folks took to calling "Proto Metal" back in the 2010s, and despite a certain lack of clarity in that as a descriptor, I get it. There's also a healthy dose of Acid Rock. But the emphasis on melody, specifically intertwining vocal melodies, gives this one an ephemeral quality that is not nearly as important to rock musicians today as it was in the afterglow of the 60s. Eldovar seems to have learned the lesson of that far-gone era and transported it to the present day with this album.

King Woman - Celestial Blues: King Woman has always been about balancing Doom aesthetics with a certain Post-Metal reserve, and on Celestial Blues, they perfect it. As brutal as it is reflective, this one drones, beats, cuts, and soars in a way that I defy anyone to put a definitive genre tag on. The haunting overtures that ebb and flow throughout the course of the album's nine tracks show songwriting on a level that bodes great things from this band in the future.

Nun Gun - Mondo Decay: A last-minute HOLY FUCK moment thanks to Heaven is an Incubator's 2021 list, it makes perfect sense this would hit me as hard as it did seeing as Algiers owned both my 2015 and 2017 with their first two albums. Mondo Decay is a strange, sick record that's filled with sonic homage while still playing as an extremely new, unique sound. When I listen to this, I feel like I'm honing in on it from between white noise transmissions, like Harlan and Maxx finding the pirate transmissions in Video Drome. This is clandestine and important, and a little scary in the best possible ways.

Fleet Foxes - A Very Lonely Solstice


On December 10th, Robin Pecknold, better known as Fleet Foxes, released A Very Lonely Solstice. A live stream performed December 21th, 2020 St. Ann at the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn. Beautifully recorded to take full advantage of the particular acoustic properties of the church, this is one for the ages. Pecknold's voice and guitar playing have nearly become one instrument in my brain.


I finally made it around to watching Jeff Lieberman's Just Before Dawn on Shudder. 


I first saw this one nearly twenty years ago now, back when my friend Dennis and I used to watch Horror movies a couple times a week after work at the hotel where I was the nighttime bartender and he was the Chef. Surprisingly, I did not remember how great this flick is. Easily the pinnacle of the 'Backwoods Slasher' sub-genre.

That's two films directed by Jeff Lieberman that have left me amazed the man didn't do more. NOT a criticism at all. But Blue Sunshine floored me the first time I saw it, and rewatching Dawn really made an impact. Might it be time to rewatch Satan's Little Helper?

Maybe next year.


Miami Horror - Illumination
Genghis Tron - Dream Weapon
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs
King Woman - Celestial Static
John Coltrane - Blue Train
Ministry - Moral Hygiene
Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies EP
Kadavar and Elder - Eldovar: A Story of Darkness and Light
Fleet Foxes - A Very Lonely Solstice
The Kunts - Boris Johnson Is Still A Fucking Cunt
Universally Estranged - Reared Up in Spectral Predation
Depeche Mode - A Question of Lust EP


Staying low-key for a while. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Favorite Comic Books of 2021

 I haven't done a list of my favorite comic book moments since... hell, maybe 2013 or 2014? This year, however, I read more comics than I have in years, and a lot of them were current books. I guess that makes it only natural I should have a list of stand-out moments, especially because there were so many great ones.

Deadly Class came back this year (had it been gone since 2020?) and boy did it make a splash upon return! Every issue has been a jaw-dropper, but the first one back - issue 45 - had one of the most cinematic openings to any comic I've ever read, and it culminated with this, the first indication that we had left the 80s behind and done a serious time jump. Easily my favorite single issue of any comic book this year.

Of course I knew who Beta Ray Bill was prior to this year, but really only by name and visage. But Daniel Warren Johnson? I had never heard of the man. And then Beta Ray Bill came out and I fell in love with DWJ's take on this left-of-center Marvel character, essentially a Thor knock-off. No disrespect intended, as I'd rather read a Bill story any day of the week than hang with Thor. Anyway, this series really traffics in the 80s pulp-gamer-Sci-Fi I remember from comics and Role Playing and movies back during my childhood, when the future was always filled with a lot of junk and technology was a more varied, messy thing. DWJ's wheelhouse lives in the same neighborhood as Richard Stanley's Hardware, Hobby Shop TSR bric-a-brac, and comic scribe Bill Mantlo's world-bending take on Jack Kirby's aesthetic. And it's fucking GLORIOUS.

I've been raving about the current iteration of Eastman and Laird's classic TMNT for the last 120+ issues, but really, this year and the "Mutant Town" storyline have been a foray into uncharted territory that just couldn't have been done better. Where the first 100 or so issues of the series - while taking great strides to expand the classic story and characters into new directions - were still based in a continuity fans were already somewhat familiar with (Shredder, Utroms, Nutrinos, Stockman, etc), the last few years have moved the book and the characters into entirely new territory, culminating with the formation of an entirely new setting amidst the fallout from Hob's Mutant Bomb. There are obvious similarities to real-world events of the last few years, but without being heavy-handed about it, and as always, the characters and their continued evolution comes first.

A Horror anthology that just doesn't stop - and shouldn't for that matter - The Silver Coin is endlessly inventive, thought-provoking and endearing in the stand alone story approach to a massive concept that can go literally anywhere it wants to - the future, the past, summer camps, casinos, dive bars. Anywhere. This was my introduction to the art and storytelling of Michael Walsh, and it locked me in as a forever fan. 

Heartfelt, creepy, and just plain wonderful. I can't say enough good things about this book that, at first glance appears to be one thing masquerading as another, but really turned out to be a perfect thesis on why lovable cartoons like Disney makes are actually perfect vehicles for scary stories. Horror with the biggest of hearts.

My reintroduction to the X-books, and specifically, the brand new world Jonathan Hickman has crafted for them. When I picked this up, I didn't realize that Planet-sized literally meant, Planet-sized, as in the mutants terraform Mars, change its name to Arrako, and make it the Capitol of our Solar System. Everything about this X-era is huge, but this was just magnificent in its audacity. Audacity that Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz pull off with the perfect degree of assurance that makes it land. And from that landing, great things continue to spring.

Seven To Eternity ended this year, and whether the speculation that it was originally supposed to go a lot longer is accurate or not, I thought the series played out in a perfect series of acts that never once gave ground on its No Black and White, life is a Gray Area aesthetic that made my heart sing at its uncompromising nature. The Mud King will always live just under The Walking Dead's Negan as one of my all-time favorite 'villains' because neither character is actually a villain, but an amalgamation of complex choices based on a chronology that feeds into itself - to quote Boards of Canada, "the past inside the present."

And I loved that Rick Remender stuck the landing. Wow. 

I came in late to Nick Spencer's run on Amazing Spider-man, and it was the first Spidey comic I'd read in decades. Also, picking up with issue 49 and carrying on until the conclusion of Spencer's run with issue 74, this is by far the most consecutive issues of a Spider-comic I've ever read. I've loved the old Webhead since the 80s when I'd buy issues here and there, jumping on story arcs like Kraven's Last Hunt, the Eddie Brock/Venom origin, and anything with the Hobgoblin. I'm not sure what drove me back into the character this past year, but I had a fantastic time following the last few acts of Spencer's run. And even if it was a bit bloated, and I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending, overall, Amazing Spider-Man was one of my favorite comic experiences in 2021. 


I totally forgot one: Sandman/Locke and Key: Hell and Gone

For a brief moment this year - well, okay, not really a brief moment because it took almost the entire year to complete the run - we got Neil Gaiman's Sandman back. Hell and Gone was both a return to everything I loved about that seminal series, but also, a grand new vision that united another favorite series. All written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. It couldn't have been better if Dream himself had waved his pale appendages to conjure the story.

Crime comics just don't get any better than what comes from the desks of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and as if that weren't enough, with the Reckless series of HC Graphic Novels, they've perfected their craft even more. I LOVE these so much, and both entries that dropped in 2021 - Destroy All Monsters and Friend of the Devil - were fantastic. 

Village of the Damned


While John Carpenter's 1995 film Village of the Damned is one of the few Carpenter movies I just cannot hang with (I've tried several times and never made it past the second act of the movie), this track by French Electroclash guru The Hacker sounds like sweet, dark candy; perfect for a dark and rainy Christmas Eve morning, my last in LaLaLand.

Taken from the album Reves Mecaniques, 2004 Different Recordings.



I finally got around to watching Michael Sarnoski's PIG with Nicolas Cage. NOT what I expected AT ALL, and wonderful because of it. I loved seeing a movie take the piss out of this particular cultural milieu, and in such a strangely calming manner to boot.


Godflesh - Post Self
Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full 
Ministry - Moral Hygiene
Yeruselem - The Sublime
Wolves in the Throne Room - Primordial Arcana
Converge and Chelsea Wolfe - Bloodmoon: I
Pike Vs the Automaton - Alien Slut Mom (pre-release single)
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Vanessa Willams - Dreamin' (single)
Nun Gun - Mondo Decay


Recognizing advantage.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Nun Gun

I'd not heard of this Algiers side project until Heaven is an Incubator posted his favorite albums of the year list (read it HERE. Seriously. READ IT). If you've seen my last couple years of "best of" lists, you know Algiers' first two records claimed my top album spots in the years they were released, and then 2020's There Is No Year fell flat for me. Well, Nun Gun is a return to form - in a way, since, you know, it's not the entire band. Take all the weird shit from those first two albums and leave out the soul and you have Nun Gun's Mondo Decay. I LOVE this record, and this song... this song is the stand-out track on an album of all stand-out tracks. SO fucking catchy, in the oddest possible way. The vocals remind me of Rockwell, which, surprisingly, is just a great thing.


After re-watching the original, Bernard Rose Candyman the other night in preparation, K and I finally saw Nia DaCosta's Candyman.

Dubbed a 'spiritual sequel,' this Jordan Peele-produced entry in the Candyman mythos, this is one of the few examples of a sequel that makes the original better. The first Candyman (I've never seen two or three) focuses on a narrow width of a story that by the entire way it's handled you know is bigger. This sounds like it could be a flaw, but it's most definitely not. This unconventional approach is what I love about it. And now, three decades later, DaCosta's sequel then arrives to finally fill in all the background, and the way it does this is fantastic. The final image/dialogue is what really seals the deal, but the entire fill gloriously fulfills the original and its promise of one day telling us a much bigger story. 


Let's see what's on tap for this penultimate NCBD for 2021:

Maw has had some of the gnarliest covers of the last few years. Here's to hoping I'm able to find this one.

The final issue of this Kang the Conqueror mini-series that will no doubt lead into the Timeless one-shot hitting shelves later this month. I'm fairly certain Marvel is positioning Kang to be the next Thanos-level big bad in the MCU, which is good news for those of us who adore the character. This series has been great, and while reading the previous issue, I was struck by just what a late 70s/early 80s/Bill Mantlo vibe this book has achieved. 

Loving this Moon Knight series, and what's more, it's getting me pretty pumped for the forthcoming Disney+ show featuring Oscar Issac as ol' Moony himself. 

I fell in love with this comic just as issue ten hit the stands, so this one is the first I've had to wait a full thirty for. 

Wasnt' easy.

Like a lot of this Hickman-era X-Men stuff, I've re-read several of these issues a few times now, which is something I haven't done since I was a kid, re-reading books the same month I acquire them. But there's enough going on here that multiple 'viewings' really open the stories up.

If issue twelve of That Texas Blood was the end of the "1981" storyline, this must be a coda before the book goes back on seasonal hiatus. Go on and get your rest Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips - you've earned it, and I'll be waiting right here when you get back. This one has really turned out to be the sleeper hit of the year.


Godflesh - Post Self
Blut Aus Nord - Deus Salutis Meae
Kowloon Walled City - Piecework
Read Yellow - Radios Burn Faster


I'm feeling with an increasingly chaotic state of mind of late, and I know what I have to do, yet still, I resist. I'm not sure why the idea of meditation puts me off so much at the moment, but The Empress here definitely suggests I need to adopt some more nurturing practices again. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Robert Eggers' The Northman

 Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' score for the upcoming film La Panthère Des Neiges (The Velvet Queen). You can pre-order the score from Invada Records HERE.

The film, which I'd never heard of before, is a documentary described as such:

"In the heart of the Tibetan highlands, an award-winning photographer guides a writer in his quest to document the infamously elusive snow leopard."

I couldn't really find a trailer, so I guess we'll just wait and see. Either way, new Cave/Ellis is always a good thing.


Holy cow.


I Loved The Lighthouse, but I've found it doesn't possess the same re-watchability that The Witch does. I'm curious to see how this one plays. No matter what, we're witnessing the career of a true cinematic genius, IMO, this generation's Kubrick.

And please, take it easy - I'm not saying Eggers is as realized an artist as Kubrick, just that from where we began with him, he's clearly on a path to become a timelessly celebrated master.


Vanessa Williams - Dreamin'
Naked Raygun - Over the Overlords
Ministry - Moral Hygiene
Type O Negative - Life Is Killing Me
Nun Gun - Mondo Decay
Belong - October Language
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - In Summer
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Felicia Atkinson - Un Hiver en plein été
Vienna Boys Choir - Christmas Favorites


Encouraging, especially since A) the company I work for was just sold to a huge surgical company (hopefully a good thing since we've been being passed around by private equity firms for the last decade, the end result of which took focus away from the employees), and B) while navigating a bunch of odd down moments at work while announcements happened and hands were shook I doubled down on NFT'ing.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Arab Strap - I Still Miss You


As we come upon the end of the year and I prepare to commit my ten favorite albums to print, I realized that I completely forgot Arab Strap put out a record earlier in the year. This is, I think because when the album came out I was simply not in the headspace for the band. Yesterday, however, I fell headlong into an Arab Strap Vortex that lasted the entire day. 

The song above was originally published on the OST for the cinematic adaptation to Irvine Welsh's The Acid House, which, if memory serves, was the first Welsh book I ever read. I'm way overdue on a Welsh catch-up jag, but that's a post for a different time (I used to buy every book he published the day it came out, however, being that his writing influences my own, and the projects I've been working on for the last few years are not necessarily compatible with that particular voice, I've eschewed the last four novels the man has published). Anyway, "I Still Miss You" is available on all streaming platforms via the 2016 eponymous compilation put out by record label Chemikal Underground. I own the Acid House flick on DVD, and this prompts me to dig it out and put it at the top of the pile for rewatching after I mop up the rest of my year-end viewing for 2021. 


Thanks to my friend Jun and The Comic Bug, I attended a private screening of Spider-Man: No Way Home over the weekend and was BLOWN AWAY.


This is everything a Spider-man fan could want and more.


Dance with the Dead - Into the Abyss
Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
Arab Strap - The Red Thread
Arab Strap - Mondays at the Hug and Pint
Arab Strap - Arab Strap
Arab Strap - The Week Never Starts Round Here


Directly referencing my experiments in the world of NFTs. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Dance with the Dead - Driven to Madness


New Dance with the Dead on the horizon! The new album Driven to Madness is out on January 10th. No pre-order I can find yet, but I love the track. 



I finally made it around to watch Alex Winter's Zappa documentary last night. Really well-made flick that served as a fantastic refresher for me - I read Zappa's autobiography back in the mid-nineties and, while I found it endless endearing and fascinating, twenty-something years later, I just don't remember much about it. Enter Winter's doc and I feel like I have reconnected with a lot of what I learned to love about Frank Zappa. I'm no die-hard, however, the music by Zappa - and specifically The Mothers of Invention - that I like, I really like. And I like it even more when I hear the man who wrote it talk about the process and intention behind such unique, amazing music. 


Nun Gun - Mondo Decay
Liars - The Apple Drop
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes 
The Police - Outlandos d'Amour
Windhand - Eternal Return
Chicano Batman - Invisible People
Zeal and Ardor - Devil is Fine
Miami Horror - Illumination
Zonal - Wrecked
Zonal - Eponymous (single)
Zombi - Shape Shift
Godspeed You! Black Emperor -  F# A# ∞
King Woman - Celestial Blues
Ghost of Vroom - Ghost of Vroom 1
The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
David Bowie - Stage
Kadavar and Elder - Eldovar: A Story of Darkness and Light
Umberto - Prophecy of the Black Widow
Allegaeon - Apoptosis
Dance with the Dead - Driven to Madness (pre-release single)
Dance with the Dead - Into the Abyss


Hmm... possibly a nod toward a strange new venture that I have started in the world of NFTs? Too early to tell, but perhaps this is a suggestion I continue.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Møl - Photophobic


I totally missed the fact that Denmark's Møl released a new album earlier this year. I'm still fairly new to this band - my fellow Horror Vision host King Butcher turned me on to 2018's Jord two years ago, and though I played it quite a bit that year, the band kind of fell off my radar at some point. Well, this puts them right back in heavy rotation. Wow-what a fantastic blend of styles these guys have - the melodic is beautiful and uplifting and the heavy is fucking BRUTAL! Pick up the new album Diorama digitally at Møl's Bandcamp or a physical copy from Nuclear Blast HERE.


Somehow, I forgot to mention here that last Saturday night, K and I saw Aaron Sorkin's new film Being the Ricardos

After the movie let out, I took to social media to proclaim this as most likely the best movie I'll see in 2021. I think that statement was a bit reactionary, but Being the Ricardos is absolutely on the short list for my favorite films of the year.


A decidedly light week for NCBD, here in the middle of December.  Let's see what I'm getting into this time:

I really dug the first issue of Chip Zdarsky and Jacob Phillips' new Neo Noir Newburn, and I'm looking forward to more from this series. Reminds me a wee bit of Donald Westlake's Parker novels. 

This book is creepy, super weird Cold War Conspiracy fiction that feels like it's about to explode into some crazy Horror and all that's fostering a lot of anticipation in my comic-loving heart. 

Apparently, we're getting a much bigger, more ambitious collaboration from Lemire and Sorrentino over the next year or two, and if Primordial and Gideon Falls is any inkling of what they're capable of, that's damn good news.

More Lemire! With him pretty much doing everything on this one, Maze Book feels like an extremely personal vision, which of course makes reading it that much more enjoyable. For a creator to put this much of themselves into a project, it's just a joy to experience. 

This book is super strange, super gorgeous, and has just been such a nice surprise for something I picked up the first issue for on a total lark. 

Gorgeous holiday cover that playfully evokes the light/dark tone of the old school Turtles book, back in the B&W Explosion days of the 80s. The constant homages to the original series, the ongoing considerations the team that does this book pay to everything that came before this iteration, it all just makes this book the greatest reboot of all time.


Chelsea Wolfe and Converge - Blood Moon: I
Deadlife - City of Eternal Rain
sunnata - Climbing the Colossus
Boy Harsher - Careful
sunnata - Burning In Heaven, Melting on Earth
Ghost of Vroom - Ghost of Vroom 1
Calexico - Seasonal Shift
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F# A# ∞


Another new beginning, or am I just not seeing what's right in front of my face?

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Blood Dawn

I had completely forgotten the Chelsea Wolfe/Converge collab album Bloodmoon: I dropped a few weeks back. Thankfully, Heaven is an Incubator just released his Top Twenty-Five records of 2021 and this was on it, reminding me to strap on the ear goggles and disappear into a place both wonderful and strange.


After five episodes, I can absolutely assure you that Showtime's new series Yellowjackets is on the shortlist for my favorite shows of the year. It's not going to beat out Brand New Cherry Flavor, but I almost feel like I should remove that one from the running - it's unbeatable.


Yellowjackets seems to be on track to come pretty close, though. This show has me chomping at the bit for each successive episode, which drop weekly on Sundays.


Van Halen - 1984
White Lung - Paradise
White Zombie - Astro-Creep 2000
Deftones - Ohms 
Calexico - Seasonal Shift
Godflesh - Streetcleaner
Blut Aus Nord - Codex Obscura Nomina
Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
Blut Aus Nord - The Mystical Beast of Rebellion
Blut Aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God
Møl - Diorama


The Airy aspect of Earth - note the bull and its rider, often interpreted as an 'energetic young man.' I have to wonder if there's a message there, or if the cards are mocking me this morning. I'm still struggling with a total lack of energy and the subsequent feelings that, at nearly 46, I'm just getting tired and old. Part of me reads that and immediately says, "Fuck you," to the part of myself that thinks that, and part of me wonders. 

Recently, I've traced the start of this constant feeling of exhaustion to two things: 1) the loss of most of my staff at work, which means all my managerial duties take a backseat to near-constant physical work. None of this is super demanding work, but it's continuous over the course of several sustained hours. Add this to my penchant for only sleeping a little over five hours a night (most nights, with after-work naps increasing in frequency), and there's a definite factor. However, 2) I also can't ignore that the start of this exhaustion appears to match up with my relatively newfound love of fasting. I do 13-16 hour fasts almost every day, and while this almost completely alleviates the stomach issues I've had for most of my life, I also can't help but wonder if it's a contributing factor. 

The good news is we're on a hiring kick at work, so hopefully, this will soon put me back in a place where I don't burn all my energy for the day by noon. I'm not the kind of manager who likes sitting at a desk for my entire day, but eight or nine hours of near-continuous physical strain sure as hell isn't doing me any good.

We'll see. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

New Zeal and Ardor!


I was debating on even posting this, as I won't be watching/listening to anything else from the upcoming eponymous sophomore album from Zeal and Ardor, out February 11th (pre-order HERE). In the end, this is one of my favorite current bands, so there's no way I can't post it here for posterity's sake. Can't wait for this record!!!


I'm really finding myself backlogged with stuff to read these past few months. A lot of this is due to a surge in great comics. And a lot of that is my being pulled kicking and screaming (at first) back into Marvel's X-Books. I'm not reading that many of them, but here's what I'm reading and what I think about them.

I guess I'm going to talk this one to death, but that's kinda what I do with comics/movies/books/music I love. This collection of Jonathan Hickman's TOTAL conversion of the X-Books into something so "All-New, All-Different" took me by complete surprise. In my worldview, there's Claremont, there's Morrison, and now there's Hickman. The House of X/Powers of X revamp eschews zero previous continuity but finds the most bafflingly fantastic ways to give all that tired old stuff an exciting new spin. Characters I've always hated like Xavier and Magneto I'm suddenly fascinated by, and the overall schematic at work here is unlike anything you've ever seen in an X title before. 

No, seriously.

If the cover of that collection I've posted above looks extremely Sci-Fi, that's because the X-Books left the superhero genre behind on this revamp, and have moved into full-blown, epic Science Fiction, with elements of Game of Thrones, Space Opera and pretty much anything else you can think of thrown into the mix. There are very few fisticuffs here - the storylines feel heightened and intriguing because they're all about different characters and their agendas. Plotting, treachery, secret plans and manipulations - seemingly from everybody. All those annoying X-Men altruisms? Pretty much gone.

I'm not going to go into all the plot details here, but if you follow THIS there's a ten-point list that will give you the idea. The list is in descending order, from ten to one. I recommend just scrolling down to number two and starting there. It gives you what you need to know.

Also in these books, there's this running idea of Mutant Technology - not technology as we think of it, but one that consists of multiple mutants using their powers in tandem to form 'Circuits' and garner results not possible as individuals. This is the kind of thing I always complained about in crossovers - the dire straights until the eleventh hour and then, "Quick, use your power with mine and PRESTO - the apocalypse is thwarted every time. Hickman is clearly aware of this trope - who isn't - and addresses it in the same manner he addresses the constant recapitulation of the dead (see number 3 on that list linked above). 

At some point, Wolvie and Colossus' famous Fastball Special is mentioned as the earliest example of this 'technology.'

The Grant Morrison-created Stepford Cuckoos being the first advancement of this in recent years, where five mutants harmonize as one. Five is apparently an important number in this technology, and I'm curious to see how many more examples of this develop in the issues to come.

S.W.O.R.D. is all about the space opera side of this new X-landscape, and although I'm not one for that particular subgenre in prose, in a comic like this, the flavor really hits the spot. As you'll see with all these books, this one is also centered around agendas and machinations, so much so that every issue so far has had pages of classified dossiers included, as we begin to see what an altruistic (maybe) viper Abigail Brand really is. If you don't know who that is, don't worry - I didn't either when I started this book. They catch you up quick.

Also, look at the cast here - there was no way I wasn't going to dig this book, as we have a couple forgotten characters from my favorite era of X-Books included, namely Gateway and Whiz Kid, or Takashi as I last knew him when he was running around with Artie and Leech in the original Inferno.

Spinning out of Hickman's sandbox comes Gerry Duggan's helming the 'Super Hero' genre book "X-Men" that launched at the end of this past summer. The idea is, while the event books deal with the agendas of what's going on with these characters, Mutantdom handpicks a classic "rescue and response" team to help safeguard the planet - you know, since most of the mutants' concerns have gone cosmic. This small team is given a headquarters in NYC from which they can respond to the kind of standard threats we're used to seeing populate all superhero books. Except, even here the book doesn't squander the premise of the larger picture with regular ol' super villains. And besides - all the mutants now coexist on Krakoa, they're no longer fighting one another. So, if Apocalypse, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, et al are all in the family now, who does this new team of X-Men fight? 

So far? A lot of monsters. 

The books have been great, giving us a pretty gnarly planetary threat in the first couple of issues, bringing in one of my favs, the High Evolutionary in another, and setting up someone called Dr. Stasis who is being slowly introduced in a very Chris Claremont plant-the-seeds-slowly-and-make-the-readers-wonder way. 

I started buying this book just for the #1, and five issues later I'm re-reading the issues multiple times. That's true of all these titles - there's so much woven into and between them, it takes a lot of attention to piece it all together. 

When I first saw these ads for the Inferno event, I hadn't read House of X/Powers of X yet. In fact, it was reading the first issue of Inferno 2021 that prompted me to go back and read Hickman's opening salvo. So looking at these ads initially, I was irritated - they used the title of my favorite X-Event from the 80s, and then even made the propaganda modeled after those old Inferno 88 ads. 

Well, I don't know that there's any thematic connection between the two series, but I have to say, my favorite X-Event will still always be Madeline, S'ym and N'astirh's attempts to sacrifice 12 babies and open the gates of Limbo for full-blown Hell-on-Earth, this new Inferno is quickly climbing up to sit at number two on that list. Admittedly, I don't even think there would be five entries on it, as most of the crossover events afterward are lackluster at best. Still, Inferno 2021 is fantastic because it's all about more and more revelations as to just what dirty little fuckers Charles and Magneto are. 

Now, sadly, the one weak link of what I've read in these books is the current "Trial of Magneto" series. Not nearly the same caliber, and hopefully an exception and not an indicator of what is to come once Hickman makes his exit after Inferno #4.


Fleetwood Mac - Tusk
Fleetwood Mac - Tango in the Night
Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun
Odonis Odonis - Spectrums
Boy Harsher - Careful
Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars

Friday, December 10, 2021

Crystal Fairies

Man, I totally forgot about this record. I remember posting about it back when it was announced, and then again after it came out, however, it has to be a few years since I last jammed the debut - and still only - album that brought together as formidable a lineup as Teri Gender-Bender from Le Butcherettes,  Buzz and Dale of the Melvins, and Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In, Antimasque, and, like ten other bands (at least). 



Pretty bummed to read that Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop has officially been canceled. I'll just leave this here to mourn and go back and start rewatching the animated series again, then go back into the live-action, which was WAY better than the legions would have you believe, IMO.


FFS - Eponymous
Underworld - A Hundred Days Off
Spotlights - Love and Decay
Zombi - Liquid Crystal
Sunn O))) - Monoliths and Dimensions
OOIOO - Gold and Green
Crystal Fairy - Eponymous


I've been really feeling Old, with a capital "O." I'm pretty sure it's because I sleep roughly five hours a night almost every night, and, closing in on 46, it's starting to catch up with me. So Strength is a regular thing - a needed sense of reserve fuel to get through any given day. I could go to bed earlier - I SHOULD go to bed earlier, but when it comes time to do so, I just fuck it up and stay up. Previously, one or two naps a week made all the difference. These days, every day is a nap day. I need to do something, I'm just not sure what. Well, that's not true. I need to go to bed earlier. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

BORIS By Wolves


New music from Boris and it's once again nothing like anyone would have expected. Also, super happy to see Sacred Bones releasing this! How awesome is that? The album "W" is out January 21, and you can pre-order it HERE.


Finally, confirmation we have a second season of Raised By Wolves on the horizon!

This show just below me away in 2020. I mean, where the hell can it go from here? Well, we finally get to find out. 


A fairly easy-going NCBD this week. Good news after last week's unexpected haul.

I still adore this "Best of" TMNT series, and I can only imagine what might be in this Shredder volume. 

Chris Saunders and I talked about our love for the first issue of this book back on the most recent episode of A Most Horrible Library. Can't wait to dig into issue #2!

I think Inferno is my most anticipated book each month at the moment, and that's crazy. Here's another cover I will never be able to purchase - a co-worker just paid $50 for it before it even goes aftermarket - but that doesn't mean I can't post it here so I can relive its glory at some later date. 

This book is the bees' knees, and this cover totally reminds me of an 80s Creepshow throwback. Love it.


I couldn't even begin to catalogue everything I've listened to since my last post, so here's yesterday's playlist and whatever else I remember:

Ethyl Meatplow - Happy Days, Sweetheart
Mike Patton - Mondo Cane
Marilyn Monroe - Some Like it Hot
Sparks - Plagiarism
FFS - Eponymous
David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Freaks)
Mastodon - Hushed and Grim
Grimes - Visions
Grimes - Art Angels
Zeal and Ardor - Stranger Fruit
Sonic Youth - Dirty
Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker - Diz 'N Bird At Carnegie Hall
Bohren and Der Club of Gore - Sunset Mission


Reflecting my empathic feelings for a friend who lost his beloved cat and the friend who works at the animal hospital that had to tell him. Really took me aback yesterday, reminding me how transient these little loved ones we cling to are.