Monday, February 28, 2011

Shotgun Jimmie "Transistor Radio"

(You've Changed) Whenever I want to hear some perfect two minute pop stories I call Shotgun!

North Elementary "Southern Rescue Trails"

( Moody, mellow, fuzzy guitar/keyboard pop that's so beautiful, spooky, and seductive you will want to marry a guitar or a keyboard, or if you're old school Mormon, both.

Kidneythieves "tryptofanatic"

( Should be called 37minutethieves, cuz I ain't getting that time back.

Trey Lockerbie "Light Therapy"

Rory Hinchey “Shape is Nature”/The Collection of The Late Howell Band “Long Fields” split LP

GUEST REVIEW by ARVO ZYLO (Ownness) A man coughs out ashes, sits up in a pile of rubble and decay, covered in dust.  The sun is still shining, and flowers still bloom, but nobody is around.   As if he had amnesia, he finds a strangely familiar instrument and starts to play it.  This is what Rory Hinchey's “Shape Is Nature” sounds like: Detached and off-kilter alien folk arrangements slowed down and stripped of absolutely everything but the essence, the impression of whatever innate instinct is there that one has to make music without conventions or pretension.  
Just about every new genre to come since grunge has seemed silly and feigned to me; an artificial construct for a time buried in smoldering debris.  Throughout musical history, minimalist composers and rock bands just the same have attempted to strip down music or sound to its most intrinsically raw elements, but rarely does it have the vigor of something that was made within the context of its time out of bare necessity; irrespective of the concept of marketing angles or conceptual art; hardly ever has it happened within my radar along the last 5-10 years especially.  Suicide, Einsturzende Neubauten, The Ramones, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Lungfish, Cromagnon, Giusto Pio, Satie, Ligeti, among others, seemed to do this in a time where it was imperative.  In other cases I think that people over-analyzed or missed the point.  
Throughout the side of Hinchey's split with The Collection of The Late Howell Bend (which he plays on and does all of the arrangements in addition to this side), you mainly hear slow organ, although I'm tempted to say it is a harmonium in there, or a “pump-organ” as others have been calling it, augmented by carefully nuanced electronics throughout, and guest violin on a couple of tracks.   Rather than choruses or refrains, one idea builds and retracts, weaving through the stereo spectrum; Generally, what comes across is a sort of morose, yet vibrant feel, not necessarily optimistic or pessimistic.  The recording has every indication to the vibe of a guy sitting at a pier with a harmonica, while also having all of the accoutrements for the soundtrack to a sophisticated, heady horror film.  At other times, it encapsulates all the makings of a person at a fork in the road; the excitement of a new possibility, the despair for what is left behind, the fear and exhilaration.  
The cover for this split LP has a photograph of a flower covered in what looks like a clear, thick gelatinous goo. It makes me wonder if there is some kind of Fibonacci reference in there about its symmetry.  Either way, “Shape Is Nature” seems to come from the gut, tremors under the skin.  It might have come from the artist in 1966 the same way it does now, regardless of outside ephemera, but it is without question a piece of work that was made for its time.   My only qualm is that it wasn't cut at 45RPM so that I could slow it down even more if I wanted to. 
Side B, “Long Fields” by The Collection of the Late Howell Bend, finds Hinchey rejoined by Allison Corbett, the violinist on Side A, arranging works for piano by Irene Moon.  For those that don't know, Irene Moon is probably best known for her reputation as an entomologist obsessed with the nature of insects, who has toured extensively doing projected power point presentations about the endearing qualities of exotic bugs over layers of dissonant, screwed up loops from Ferrante & Teicher records and electronic noise.  This side is all instrumental, and piano gallops along with violin and organ, it makes for a good contrast to the 11 inch record also on Rory's Ownness label, which sounds like Ruth White/Louise Huebner mannerisms with brooding organ stabs and dark vocal harmonies.  “Long Fields” is also excellent, perhaps a rebuilding process to where “Shape Is Nature” leaves it.   

The Loaded Nuns

(Zodiac Killer) This label is known (by me at least) for releasing Confederacy of Scum-type bands and a few of the 527 Electric Frankenstein releases so I sorta knew what to expect, and I'm pleased to say that even though every Antiseen-inspired groups always meets a minimum standard of rockingness just by nature of their DNA, this is better than it has to be. While maintaining nasty trashiness and damaging velocity Loaded Nuns also manage to display serious rock 'n' roll class. Sure they cuss and sing about drinking and nasty sex, but they sure approach rockin' 'n' rollin' with some kind of sober fidelity because everything sounds tight, right, and outtasite. Do you know how many Kentucky punk trash bands with naked nun suicide album covers are better than this one? Nun!

Late, Late At Night by Rick Springfield

Apparently I am very lucky to be able to review Late, Late at Night, the new Rick Springfield autobiography. When Jake Austen sent out an email asking if anyone was interested, he was amazed at how many people wanted to do it. So amazed, that he interviewed us all and wrote an article for Time Out about it.
The other potential reviewers actually had much better reasons than I did. One of them, for example, raved about Zoot, Springfield’s late sixties band in his native Australia.
I had neither obscure musical knowledge nor a passion for Springfield’s music. I was just idly curious. In the early days of MTV, when I was in junior high school, he had loomed so large. And then he disappeared. Where? Why? And a few weeks before Austen’s email hit my in-box, I had come across an article about Springfield’s book, which mentioned that his wife of 26 years—that caught my attention too, 26 years—had refused to read it. What could be so awful? And if it had been so awful, why would she stay?
“When I turned fifty,” reads the author’s note, “I wrote a song about my life so far, to see if I could fit it into a three-minute pop tune. I could.” He called the song “My Depression.” Most lyrics, when printed, are bad. These are very, very bad. I stopped reading the book, and didn’t return to it for weeks.
Which was unfair, because Springfield’s early life is outrageously interesting. Young Rick Springthorpe (the leader of one of his first bands renamed him “Springfield,” with the reasonable argument that everyone would get it wrong anyway) grows up in an Australia that he doesn’t seem old enough to fit. Milk is delivered by horse and cart, then stored in an icebox. When his family buys the first television in the village, all the neighbors come over to watch it.
In an odd moment during this backwater childhood, Springfield’s fourth-grade teacher asks him to stay after school. Having just purchased a new belt to discipline her students, she wants him to hit her with it, so she can test how it feels. Hmmm. Springfield doesn’t connect this incident, or another inappropriately early sexual experience, to his later sex addiction. But for the therapy-minded, it’s certainly there.
In another chapter—so bizarre, that it seems almost unbelievable—Springfield, age 17, joins a band called MPD Ltd, which promptly leaves for Vietnam. The year is 1968. Much later, Springfield discovers that the promoter hires unsuspecting Australian bands, sending them to parts of the war zone where the USO refuses to go. The only thing worse than being awakened by mortars and rockets, Springfield writes, “is having them land around us when we’re playing a gig.”
Springfield survives and soon afterward, moves to the United States. I had not realized that his eighties career was actually a comeback—in the early seventies, he has an even frothier career, when he is marketed as the next David Cassidy, complete with the teen magazine interview, “Rick Springfield: Is he too tall to love?” When this career wanes, he returns to Australia and has plastic surgery, at age 23.
Springfield wrote the book himself, without the assistance of a ghost writer, as the press material points out. His style takes a bit of getting used to—for example, trying to make a living as a musician, he writes, “has been like trying to suck pregnant goats through a garden hose”—but it’s genuine. His anecdotes are often perfectly paced, such as the story about trying to buy a button-down shirt that would fit his dog (for the photo shoot for Working Class Dog, of course). Springfield also explains the stories behind a few of the songs—though not all of them—so fans will know definitively that “Jessie’s Girl” was indeed inspired by a real girl, but that her boyfriend was called Gary.
If you like your books to have a happy ending, you should stop reading around p. 211. At that point, in the mid-1980s, Springfield is equally famous for his Top 40 hits and his role on General Hospital. Springfield is a likable guy. You want him to win and keep on winning. And yet you know he can’t. He loses his record deal and his expensive house. He plays Vegas. He has more plastic surgery. The surgeon promises to make him look years younger, leaving out the possibility “that I could also end up looking like a stretched-lizard-faced freak,” which, honestly, in some photos, he kind of does.
Toward the end of the book, the time periods get longer, but less and less happens. He meets a seven-year-old girl, Sahara, who develops cancer; he holds a series of benefit concerts. Most of his own two sons’ childhood is skimmed over. It’s unclear why.
At one point, he is asked to appear on an Oprah episode about one-hit wonders, and quite rightly, he refuses: “I toy with the idea of sending them an email with the titles of my seventeen Top-40 friggin’ hits poetically woven through…underlining the fact that I am a waaay bigger star than they think I am.” He does agree to be interviewed for VH1’s Behind the Music. And his book in fact follows the Behind the Music formula—early struggles, success, failure, redemption—but without too much in the way of redemption.
Springfield still seems to be struggling with his depression, his addictions, his loving but dysfunctional marriage. Still seems to be longing for fame that probably won’t return. How does the book end? I can barely remember. I want him to surprise us, though. I want him to surprise us all. 

Nathan Payne "Sideburns in the Sun - The Very Best of Nathan Payne"

( Payne brings joy with songs that range from creepy one man band slop to intense Tom Waits-esque theatrical epics. Strange and disturbing music can apparently still be pretty and lovely. But it still fucks you up. 

Fiery Blue

(Doubloon Records) Should be called Fiery GOLD because this singer/songwriter superteam's debut is hot and headed for the top!

Mongrel Zine #9

( Other than the brilliant Kicks (which refused to cover new bands) I can't recall much of a zine scene during the questionable garage rock revival of the 80s (Midnight Records, and such), but during the 90s revival there were tons of mags to go along with Estrus/Ripoff/whatever record labels that were out there. Now that there's this amazing, lengthy 21st century wave of garage goings-on I would expect a million posh publications, even with the internet fouling up the print scene, but there's really only enough to count on the fingers on one hand of a clumsy deli clerk. And the best of the bunch is this Maple leaf rag, which covers one man bands, poster artists, snotty young garage acts, prolific Quebequese rock n roll hip hop witches (or at least one), festivals, underground movie stuff, and every obscure slab of vinyl the dinosaurs sacrificed their lives to produce. Mondo Mongrel 4EVA!

A.A.Z. "Four-Wheelin' with A.A.Z.," "Most Hated Band in Roanoke"

(AAZ) Appalachian Autonomous Zone literally sounds like the screams of insects being tortured. And by "literally" I mean that I made my beer money in college assisting on science experiments that involved operating micro-recording devices that documented the audio of anguished bugs being slowly mangled, AND IT SOUNDED EXACTLY LIKE THIS! The bugs (cockroaches especially) even occasionally covered Quincy Jones and Butthole Surfers songs.

The Chapin Sisters "Two"

(Lake Bottom) Speaking of kids and Chapin, in Brooklyn there's an actual playground named after Lily and Abigail Chapin's uncle Harry, and in it there are little springy toy taxis for kids to play on, so that little Jacob can pretend he's, "taking tips and getting stoned...flying so high, when I'm s-t-o-n-e-d!" That out of the way, the Chapin Sisters (the kids of Tom, and not kids anymore) sing wonderful post-modern folk music with eerily beautiful harmonies that couple with ridiculously excellent production to make a record that will put you in a trance. But back to that playground, c'mon people, am I right? Wild stuff!

Americans in France "Crawling"

(Odessa) This sounds like the record that would be made if you left some instruments and recording gear in a kindergarten classroom, then left the kids to fend for themselves for a few months, Lord of the Flies-style,  with nothing to survive on but graham crackers and a classroom CD player stocked with punk, surf, garage, primitive pop, and art rock albums. And all the kids were Damien from The Omen.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wooden Wand "Death Seat"

( If you don't dig vivid pathos-drenched ghostly acoustic-guitar-accompanied, chilling story song records than you woundn't want Wooden Wand.

Marisa Anderson "The Golden Hour"

( Although I suppose the ostensibly improvised guitar solo as we now know it is based on the work of blues and blues-obsessed musicians, for the most part it's hard to put authentic blues (with its formal structure and rigid repetition) and improvisation (in the jazz/noise/arty sense) in the same bag. Yet Anderson, with these solo lap steel and guitar pieces, manages to craft soundscapes that are recognizable (in spirit and sound, if not structure) as wonderful Delta/pre-Chicago blues, that still live up to the standard of freejazz/art rock/psychedelia exploration (without any of the aggression or volume found in those genres). These blissful, beautiful audio atmospheres are in fact, to quote our former Governor (words likely also spoken by our new foulmouthed Mayor) fucking golden!

Tales of Blood and Roses #1

( You gotta hand it to the goth-ish! I can't think of anything I would have less interest in than a collection of poetry and amateur short stories...but throw in some vampires, a mangled toddler's corpse in a drained pool, lines like "My tongue navigates a rhythm in your pussy-purse," m-u-r-d-e-r, and then spruce it up with a graveyard fashion shoot and a necrophilia gag cartoon and you have my attention! I hope they get to keep publishing this for the rest of their lives...and beyond!

How and Why - A Do-It-Yourself Guide

( I've read D.I.Y. zines that are clearly written step by step how to guides about living off the grid in anarchist survival squatting full-on punk rock hermit mode. This somehow has the same edge an attitude as those rags even as it tells you how to get a mortgage, make a bike hitch, keep your home schooled kids up to your state educational standards, build a banjo...not exactly themes Crass sung about! R.T.Y.! (read this yourself)

Rad Dad #18

( I was not familiar with this long-running zine about parenting, but I did not approach it with optimism. Anytime I come across a self-described punk mom blog I'm always struck that no matter how much they doth protest, no amount of punk attitude makes their parenting approaches or stories any less mundane than stuff written by square moms and dads. And that Neal Pollack's Alterna-Dad book might as well have been a transcription of a hack Christian-audience stand up comic telling cute stories. However (and perhaps it's because this is the sex-theme issue) I have to concede that these parenting treatises are outside the box. Contributors discuss open marriage, being deep into radical/anarchist communities and having to deal with the anti-breeder philosophies of colleagues, fears about anal sex while episoiotomy scar tissue is still fresh in pressures from anarchist (some are Rad Moms as well), none of which would fly in a Ray Romano standup routine. Though I imagine may of these writers will get more from putting this stuff on paper than readers might get from it (one running theme is that parenting is a personal experience that is different for everyone) I was never bored and was happy I read this stuff. And happy that I'll never get an episiotomy.

The Greatest Bits "Mega Man II"

( I have never played Mega Man 2, a Nintendo game from the early 90s, but anyone who played home or arcade games anytime between the late 70s and the mid 90s will recognize the vibe of 8-bit computer game music, not only because of the limitations and peculiarities necessitated by the technology, but because of the playfulness, drama, and (no pun intended) hack-ishness of the compositions. Greatest Bits remixes, re-imagines, spruces up, and plays around with this archival material (considered by some a classic video game soundtrack) and manages to keep everything sounding simultaneously cheap and blippy yet full and modern. Most importantly, as some of the more challenging 8-bit artists either ignore or choose to contradict, this sounds fun, and fun is what video games are supposed to be about.

Jenn Cleary "Back to the Wheel"

 ( Cleary may not have the strongest singing voice but she compensates by approaching the vocals of her pleasant songs with such free-spirited, unselfconscious ease that you can't help but dig her blues, Cajun, folk, and pop ("Those Boys" is a great Neil Diamond riff ripoff) grooves. She's Clear(l)y fearless!

Motionless in White "Creatures"

(Fearless) Darkwave melodiculousness that combines the best and worst parts of the contemporary definitions of metal, goth, industrial, emo, death, hardcore, and other stuff you can get t-shirts for at Hot Topic. If you took out the melodic human singing and just left the Cookie Monster and shriek scream parts and the pummel drumming and monster themes and weirdness stuff I'd be pretty on board. But as it stands I think I have to concede that I am not man enough to dig extreme music with parts where a guy sings like a sensitive pussy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Volcano Diary

( This band wins the Science Fair at the school of slinky acoustic cabaret introspective ladysinging music!

Watts "On the Dial"

( Watts this? Glammish power pop that sounds like the bar band in Heaven, that's watt!


( Political punk anthems that remind me of what Billy Bragg might have sounded like if he was squatting with Crass. Not that this sounds too much like Billy Bragg or Crass, just that I really believe if Bragg lived with those cats he would have this edge.

The Demon's Claws "The Defrosting of"

(In The Red) Unlike a monkey's paw (which always grants fucked up wishes) and that talking fish you free from the line (which usually is pretty stand up as far as wish granting), you never know what you'll get when you wish upon a Demon's Claw. These Montreal maniacs got a bilious brew of brimstone barbecued garage rock that actual boasts of Middle Ages demonic sonics -- they achieve their 60s sound by tapping into the 1360s! Best yet, everything sounds like it was recorded inside a cauldron!

Dagger zine

( This indie punk cut n paste zine outzines us in every category, including longevity, obscurity and Nipsocity (the latter referring to number of photos of Nipsey Russell in the latest issue -- they beat us 15 - zilch!). Dag!

Popular Reality Special Report zine

($3, POB 18 Poultney, VT 05764)This clip zine/art zine/poetry zine/politcal zine/thora zine is so intensely radical that it defies even the convention of making any kind of sense whatsoever!

Aaron + Andrew "To Be Brave"

( If I had a (non-vampire) teen romantic TV nighttime soap show I would just play one of these swelling, lush songscapes at the end of each episode just when the two hot-looking kids struggle with emotions yet still end up in a triumphant, sexy embrace. I would then cut to a Johnny Larue ariel crane shot, that was rotating around as it went skyward  (if the kids were outdoors on a hill or something). If they were in a bedroom I would just cut to them doing whatever is as close to fucking as the CW or basic cable allows. And I guarantee, my show would be a huge hit, even if the first 56 minutes of it sucked every week.

Local Comics #67

($1, Michael Goetz 1340 Brandywine Dr Rockford IL 61108) When I was in L.A. I was talking to this pretty comedy lady who's on TV alot and she was saying that being from Rockford no one was famous other than Cheap Trick and then i mentioned Weasel Walter and she was excited to try to gauge if he counts as famous and how she ranks in the Rockford fame hierarchy now that there were three points on the graph, and it was a relatively fun little chat. But it would have gotten to the awesome level had I started vociferously arguing that despite his obscurity cartoonist Michael Goetz deserves to be atop the Rock-chart simply because he's put out so many self-published, pun-riddled, ridiculous minicomix over his lengthy career that he must rival Chick tracts as far as distro goes...even if he only printed 10 of each issue that would be about a million copies already!

Julius C "OK, OK."

( Render unto me some awesomeness! Pop so rich and creamy that I poured it on my salad!

Kill Kurt Reifler "Sure As the Swing of a Pendulum"

This slinky, kind of creepy porno soundtrack/blues attack made me feel kind of inebriated and caused several teeth to fall out. Translation: awesome!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Monotonix "Not Yet"

(Drag City) Since they are now twice as wild and raucous and rocktastic as their last record they should change their name to STEREOtonix!

7 Wishes for Christmas

(Ocean) Sorry to discussing this collection of moody X-mas songs by an international cadre of sensitive singer/songwriter/composer/interpreters so long after Santa's sleigh's vapor trails have dissipated. But I will never miss an opportunity to talk Chipmunks! Sure there are some strong tracks here (Helluvah's scary holiday greetings, Lidwine's Bjork/Nat King Cole mashup) but all I can focus on is Lisa Cerbone's earnest, borderline mournful interpretation of Alvin and his brothers' ode to unfulfilled hula hoop coveting. With her dreamy (elflike?) vocals, minimal instrumentation, and melancholy-ish abrupt ending, this brings to the Chipmunks' classic something it has always needed --- whiffs of holiday depression. Not that the song isn't beautiful and sort of hopeful in folkster Cerbone's interpretation (no need to put David Seville in suicide watch), it's just that it seems infused with the mixed feelings sensitive folks have around holiday times. Hurry Christmas, hurry fast, indeed!

Tyler Jon Tyler "s/t"

( Should be called Awesome Jon Awesome because this passel of precious poppish punky perfection is, in fact, awesome.

Mutts “The Tells of Parallels

( Mike Maimone should be one of the singer-songwriter types painting moody portraits of eccentric characters in a piano bar somewhere. But instead he decided to tell the same tales, or fragments thereof, with an ominous, driving, occasionally funky, killer rock band that makes stranger music become danger music. Should be called Butts because this kicks ASS!

Knux “She’s So Up”

(RCRD LBL) Not surprising that an act named after the sound Curly of the Three Stooges is so famous for would make music that was funny, though their one liners never forego cool for comedy. What is surprising is how well they reference the fourth Stooge, Iggy, by incorporating a heavy rock loop so effortlessly. While there is a slight patina of novelty record here, don’t expect these cats to go the way of Afroman…this hot single is a knukout!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meercaz "s/t" LP, "Space Hate" 12"

(Tic Tac Totally) This beautiful vinyl reissue of Meercaz' 2009 debut Gulcher CD gives aesthetic weight to already heavy awesomeness. It sounds like the best Detroit proto-punk on way better drugs, creating a cloud of amorphous rock that makes you want to float way peacefully and spasm at the same time. The 12" EP sounds like Danzig fronting Hawkwind! Gave me a Meercgasm!

Day Creeper "Blah!" ep

(Tic Tac Totally) Hooky, loose, raw, poppity-punk all sung in the same voice Jonathan Richman uses on "Here Comes the Martians Martians." And like said Martians, this is out of this world!

The Girls at Dawn "Back to You" b/w "WCK"

(Tic Tac Totally) Girl Group pop harmony tunes doused and dripping with some kind of sinister slime that is intent on going on a Blob-like creep and destroy mission to corrosively dissolve Phil Spector's penis.

OBN III "Runnin on Fumes" ep

(Tic Tac Totally) This is the kind of trash rock that if you played it for skid row-ish Bowery punk bands in the 70s they would have been scared to go to whatever neighborhood these guy were from. And they should be, because these are Texans, meaning they can handle just as many drugs and venereal diseases as New Yorkers,  but they know how to shoot guns better. This is primal, ridiculous, driving, slop rock that will give you something so nasty that it would scare 3 OB/GYNs, thus the band name.

Andy Human "Toy Man" b/w "Center of Gravity"

(Tic Tac Totally) The A-side sounds like whatever you call that kind of new wave pop that plays at the dramatic parts of john Hughes teen movies, but all of the John Hughes teen movies would be better if they used this song. The B-side takes that same vibe but then gives it a nice poppy/vintage rock 'n' roll vibe, like Dave Edmunds mighta done back in the day, without actually sounding anything like Dave Edmunds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Coady "Driftin' Years"

( Coady has been around the Chicagoland rock scene forever, always delivery some solid, working class, rock n roll for the regular guy. But this newest release really cranks up everything that makes his, earnest heartland songwriting so special. I have always dug PC, but the lead track here "Show You How" is probably twice as good as anything I've ever heard him do. Screw Mellencamp, you want Midwestern everyman rock, that's willing to reference everything from Buddy Holly ("Maybe Baby"), to the Boss ("Nothin' For Free"), to  American history ("Billy Needed Killin', about the Kid not Corgan) Coady is your cat. 

Antonette G and the Golden Boys "S/T," "My Horseshow" b/w "Pretty Pictures"

(Rodent Records) G's gets it going with galloping grooves, grazioso vocals, grass-roots genuineness, and girl group goodness. Great!

JD McPherson "Signs & Signifiers"

(Hi-Style) What's happening to Chicago? We're gonna have our first non-South Side mayor in forever, and now the best tune written about local chicks in decades is called "North Side Gal?" I would think we could at least expect a singer named McPherson to be from Bridgeport or Beverly. But that aside, this killer album is as solid a slab of vintage rock 'n' soul you'll be hearing from any corner of any city anytime soon. With ace production work by Jimmy Sutton, and with JD providing classic songwriting and a strong, soulful voice, this old time rockabilly/R&B gem never brings to mind hokey oldies sock hop poodle skirt goofiness but instead delivers some true to heart joys and aches. If he's this good he can sing about a Winnetka Gal for all I care and I'll still be on board.


(HHBTM) Liquid music mind-meld flows too song-like to be noise but too sublimely messy to be psychedelia. Oddly, this tastes exactly like the band's name, which is odd only because I haven't eaten a tuna and bunny sandwich since I was a little kid. I guess some things you never forget.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Widower DVD

(Alternative Tentacles) Although this is more a romantic comedy about a gentle-mannered elderly husband and his corpse wife - "Weekend at Bernies" meets "When Harry Met Sally" if you will - it's easiest to enjoy this as the horror movie it's not. Because then you can forgive bad acting, cheap makeup (the old man looks about 25 with oatmeal stuck on his face for wrinkles), and weak script in horror, because the cheesier a monster movie is the better. But honestly, this is a pretty easy Z-movie to watch, especially considering the 79 minute runtime, and the cameos by Jello Biafra, Joey Shithead, and Nardwuar (as the donut dealer who feeds the bumbling cops who follow the nosy neighbor on the dead wife's trail). You will not laugh or cry or become the Widower, but you'll never be as judgmental about necrophilia again. Bonus features include a CD of the soundtrack (with some great tracks by Nardwuar's Goblins band, Smugglers, D.O.A. and Coal), and a short b&w version of the movie that's even cheaper (and better).

The Del Moroccos "Blue Black Hair"

(Histyle) For regulars of the last few decades of Chicago Rockabilly night (in all it's forms) or even curiosity seekers who just dropped in now and then, everyone in this group is such a familiar face that it's hard to believe this group would be better than a fun rootsy jam band. Seriously, how often could an all star group with the head honcho's ol' lady singing be actually awesome? Well, at least once! This album is so much fun that you will be tossngn furniture aside and dancing like a wildchild  after the first few bars. What's best here is that this manages to be super authentic 50s-style Wanda/Collins Kids/Ronnie Dawson party rockabilly, yet never succumbs to sounding like dated, historical recreation work. This is contemporary super fun music as up-to-date as a Nicki Minaj guest rap, that just happens to feature songs previously performed by Big Maybelle, the Jades, and Bill Haley.

Michael Schenker Group "30th Anniversary Concert Live in Tokyo" DVD, CD

(inakustik) I'm not going to lie - although I dig UFO, I've seen the Scorps a few times and I like me some Schenker(s, Rudolf gets some love, too),  I really don't know M.S.G. from a Chinese flavor enhancer. That said, this DVD (which I recommend over the CD, though die hards may dig that, too) is pretty awesome even when I have to just fake it when Brit vocalist Gary Burden announces that I'm gonna know the next one. I assume this is the early lineup of the band, heard on the previous live in Japan album from the early 80s that used to be a pretty common slab of used vinyl. But even having not heard that record, and honestly having heard none of these joints, it's still easy to get into a concert that's shot so well, sounds so good,  and features a band where everyone has kept their health, dignity and most of their hair together for the last quarter century (we forgive the Mike Love baseball hat Barden). They all rock so fucking hard, and the camerawork, chops, and chemistry between band members is totally spot on. And of course, what is more fun to watch than polite Japanese metal fans quietly rocking out?

Mike Watt "Hyphenated Man"

(Clenched Wrench) Watt has this bizarre collection of songs billed as a rock opera, sans regular narrative, but what it really reminds me of is that great Half Japanese album where they do one song about a specific monster for each letter of the alphabet. What makes this odd bird of an album so great is that each song about "Beak-Holding-Letter-Man," "Man-Shitting-Man," "Cherry-Head-Lover-Man," "Jug-Footed-Man," Fryingpan-Man" and the 25 others is really just a short, thoroughly descriptive song about that actual hypen-man. Sure it's great that the music successfully builds upon the humor/art/innovative jazzy sensibilities that go back even before the hypnotizin' 50 tracks on Minutemen's "Double Nickels" album, but what's best is that this really is what it is: freakishly fascinating description songs about weird -- yet recognizable - kinds of men. That's Watt I'm talking about!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Edible Secrets by Michael Hoerger, Mia Partlow & Nate Powell

( A shopping lift of Lefty anti-CIA/FBI greatest hits (MKUltra, Black Panther assassinations, Soviet espionage, global Corporate conspiracies) are presented in a bakery-fresh manner: as beautifully illustrated, food-themed snacks. By very loosely using food as bait to draw you into these sordid tales of American governmental evil (as revealed in declassified documents) we not only get to tangentially explore some famed atrocities (documents revealing the Feds were interested in subliminal popcorn advertising at the movies is an excuse to explore more devious mind control/torture histories) but we also get new perspectives on chilling chestnuts. Every Chicago southsider knows the terrible tale of Fred Hampton's murder, but to see a document, cc'd to the Prez, about teen Hampton allegedly robbing an ice cream truck shows how deep the Feds' surveillance of black revolutionary youth got. Hampton was in the NAACP's youth council and whether he was framed or just monitored, the POTUS getting a memo about a $50 Good Humor bum rush is pretty fucked up. Other highlights include the U.S. using a Jello box as misleading evidence to convict the Rosenberg's of spying, Castro's milkshake being targeted for poisoning by a U.S. agent, and Coca-Cola trying to play both sides of the Israel/Arab conflict. The book is breezily written while still being disturbing, and Powell's comix-like illos bring the gory truth home while maintaining some gallows whimsy. Nauseatingly delicious!