A sub-division of oldpunks.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Review: Wire - Send

Wire has a website. Excuse me while I look at it........and..done. 2003's Send is comprised of seven tracks from the two Burn and Read EP's (2002) plus four new ones, appearing after twelve years of side projects, DJ work and fizz-widdling. It's a great record and about fricking time.

In the last few years a number of great bands decided to put their self-indulgence on the back-burner and release albums with relevance beyond the usual suspects of record store clerks and kool-aid drinkers. I thank The Rentals, The Strokes and every other band who enhanced nostalgia for a time when punk and new wave were variations on the same theme, and it wasn't a crime to dance and enjoy yourself. Wire were strict followers of the anti-art creed that dictated a band should never cater to the desires of their fans, and better yet to avoid all eye contact and give 'em what they least want. Send is exactly what the people want, and Wire had to be aware that if their first album after twelve years was another The First Letter they might as well pack it in for good.

Grounded in walls of noise and straight ahead song structures, Send recalls the trifecta of their first three albums and adds the pounding intensity of Killing Joke. Drummer Robert Gotobed (no relation to Holly Golightly) is really a drummer here, as opposed to the percussionist of earlier albums. "Comet" and "Read And Burn" are my favorite tracks. "Being Watched" has a funky Peter Gabriel feel but the lyrics are lame ("You like to be watched and be the watcher too"). "Nice Streets Above" and "Spent" have that Killing Joke zeitgeist while "You Can't Leave Now" is slow and gothy. "Half Eaten" sounds like the "The Name Song" ("Banana-fana-fo-fada"), which is great if you can do it with your friend's names. Be the hit of any post-punk progressive pop party.

Send is great. It's everything it should and needed to be. It's today, 1977 and next Tuesday. Buy it, copy it, and cut off people's heads with it like the alien bad guy in the Dolf Lundgren film I Come In Peace. Dolf has a master's degree in chemical engineering. So there.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Review: The Frighteners (Director's Cut) DVD

I felt compelled to pick this up because the theatrical cut of The Frighteners always seemed to be missing something, and after the Director's Cut of Leon: The Professional blew me away with its extra 15 minutes I figured Peter Jackson wouldn't let me down. He kinda did because the film is still a confused mess - one I see maybe once a year because I love Dead Alive beyond human measure.

The making-of documentary is four hours long. This edition provides the first Peter Jackson commentary, and once the deluxe Dead Alive dvd comes out with all deleted footage, a making of, commentary and a hat with this guy on top, I'll crap my pants and cry like Mrs. Alito.

On the plus side, the cast is great, especially Jeffrey Combs, whose extra few scenes should never have been cut. Jackson is great at filming action and he knows just how far or close to shoot a scene. The interplay of live and "ghost" actors looks great considering the sheer complexity of making it work.

On the downside the script veers away from sense and some of the CGI shots don't work. After seeing this and Hellboy (ten times) I'm convinced CGI should mix with by never replace live actors in scenes with live actors. In an obvious sizing error The Reaper goes from taller than normal human size to what must be twenty feet tall and wide. Frighteners has a scene where the police shoot wildly in a crowded room, which they'd never do. The worst script error is the scene where three babies fly around the room and when Michael J. Fox comes in to save the day he's exposed as a con artist in a newspaper article. But what about the freaking flying babies!??!!*&%^#!!

I like this movie but they shouldn't have written it as it was being filmed, ya know what I'm sayin'?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Review: Bloc Party - God Bless Bloc Party DVD

Warning: really bad pun at end of review.

God Bless Bloc Party is a bit of a gip because half the listed songs are seen in the documentary and not very much live at all. The concert portion of the DVD ends just as it's warming up. Show's over folks, drive safe (lights flicker off). I'm going to trade this back in for credit.

Bloc Party are themselves a great band and Silent Alarm a treasure if you like The Cure, Joy Division and Gang OF Four condensed like milk. I just sampled the Remix album of Silent Alarm and it's bad - bad bad not good bad.

I watched fifteen minutes of the documentary because Bloc Party aren't that interesting and whoever put this together took random/mundane footage and combined it with concert clips blender fashion using every visual effect on hand. No offense but most bands are not worthy of a documentary, and if I want to watch a skinny shirtless Asian kid who looks like both a Jewish accountant and Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite eat a lot of food I'd join the fetish site.

Singer and guitarist Kele Okereke has personality plus and is fun to watch. Matt Tong on drums eats and doesn't like talking about influences. Gordon Moakes (bass) and Russell Lissack (guitar) are from that planet of skinny pale guys who seem personality free but friends swear they're wild men once you get to know them.

The concert footage in the doc is so disconnected and artificially flavored it doesn't seem live at all. The short and sweet concert portion is much better, even with 47 cameras in place, both static and swooping, with cuts so quick it's more subliminal than real.

If Bloc Party were anarchist vegetarians the hidden message might be to Smash The Steak.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Today's Fancy Word Grouping

Contained in this nerd-wonk article on changes at the State Department is a great saying. The phrase I like is in bold letters:

The institutional culture of the State Department is frequently contrasted unfavorably with that of the Defense Department. Whereas the dominant ethos of the latter, being of a military outlook, is said to be "action," especially in danger zones around the world, that of the State is contemptuously said to be "talk," mostly in posh European capitals. One observer who worked with both departments relays a common, but telling stereotype: "Defense takes in ordinary people and achieves the extraordinary; State takes in extraordinary people and achieves the ordinary."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hot Butter Popcorn

I've always loved the 1972 Moog classic "Popcorn". You can hear it here in enough versions to make you puke. Written by Gershon Kingsley in 1969 and recorded by associate Stan Free under the name Hot Butter, it pre-dated the guh-oofy Hooked On Classics records but came way after Muzak. It sits alone in music history as an odd little creature neither fish nor fowl, like "Video Killed The Radio Star". I think it's pretty cool and radical for 1972.

It opens with a solid tone neither warm nor cold, like a pleasant emergency broadcast signal. The moogs kick in along with a live drummer who works over his kit like Buddy Rich before he's about to have an organized seizure. Cheesy yet lush strings come in later but I focus on the single note progressions of the popcorn sound, which move up and down the scale like muzak emulating vocals with the piano. At first it's clumsy, like each note is a major effort, but soon Free's hitting each note true. And in muzak fashion I make up lyrics like:

"I love popcorn, yes I do, I love popcorn, how 'bout you?..."

Kingsley was a Moog pioneer: "Kingsley continued to experiment with the Moog, recording two Moog albums for Audio Fidelity. Impresario Sol Hurok, fascinated by Kingsley's work, hired him to lead a Moog quartet at Carnegie Hall in early 1970. There were two catches, however. First, Kingsley had to convince Robert Moog to build the three other synthesizers he needed. Then he had to hire and train four musicians to play them. He ended up auditioning 150 players to find the four he needed, and the group's initial performance drew a range of responses, from an outright slam by The New York Times to an enthusiastic call from Arthur Fiedler. Fiedler asked Kingsley to write a Concerto for Moog that the quartet performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1971."

I bet you can trace a line from "Popcorn" to the Silicon Teens.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Review: The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike

The Go! Team are from the UK, so the Go Team must be from the USA! (Spinal Tap reference). Thunder, Lightning, Strike is a fun record but there's a hipster cuteness to it that sometimes turns me off. They create an impressive array of cacophonies that creep up on you like The Arcade Fire (the latter less in your face about it) but I'm just not a fan of scratching no matter how infrequent, and the old soul record horns they toss in are a bit too precious, like claiming your favorite movie of all time is an ABC After School Special.

The Go! Team do have an interesting shtick: They cook the dials so the high end distorts like a sizzle, the drums are muddy and muted, they sing in a style that combines cheerleading and schoolyard jump-rope, and they bang a lot of instruments junkyard style. About half of this is instrumental, and it's not all funk by any means like some reviews indicate. I really, really enjoy about 95% of this, and so much happens in each song it's not just a matter of saying I like this song but not that one. The allmusic.com review is my thoughts exactly without the total enthusiasm.

My favorite tracks are "Panther Dash", "Feel Good By Numbers" (sounds like the Snoopy theme), "Get It Together" (very pleasant flute), "Friendship Update" and (especially) "Huddle Formation", which packs as much energy as any Agnostic Front single.

Bass Player With A Hook

For Dr. John, here's a video of a bald guy wearing sunglasses wailing on the bass guitar with one hand.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Zen Of Garfield

Listed at Portal Of Evil, this site randomly selects 3 panels of Garfield comics. The more you refresh the page the more brilliant it becomes.

Review: Chixdiggit! - Pink Razors

Canada's Chixdiggit! took a five year vacation before coming out with Pink Razors , a fine record probably made even better by the time off. Chixdiggit! sound like Chixdiggit! the same way The Groovie Ghoulies sound like themselves (they're touring together), and annual records from either might be too much of the same too soon. I love the Ghoulies too, but let's be honest on the point.

The 13 tracks weigh in at less than 22 minutes, which isn't a big woop because they make their points and get the hell out. You can always hit repeat. As an added bonus the band sits down to record a full-length commentary on each track, and not only are Chixdiggit literate, they're not flaming assholes. Hoo-ray!

The signature Chixdiggit! sound is pretty sweet. They sound something like The Descendents meets The Groovie Ghoulies but truly do have their own sound. I saw them years ago and the whole show they stood in rock god poses and hammed it up. I loved it. The guitar licks are consistently clever without being cock-rocky and the sing alongs are easy to sing along with.

Every song has its charms and I'm surprised "J Crew" hasn't made it yet to heavy rotation on whatever stations play Fountains Of Wayne, who violated the Chixdiggit! patent on singing about moms.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fitness Trend My Arse!

Forbes left Punk Rock Aerobics out of their Hottest Fitness Trends article. THAT'S why I don't trust the MSM!

Friday, January 20, 2006

My New Che Shirt Idea

I always write curse words as s--t and f--k. It's just my thing. Here's a dirty joke I wrote: Did you hear Lois Lane won't go down on Superman? Yeah, she's afraid she'll blow her brains out.

I can't do photoshop so here's my great new t-shirt idea. On the front it'll have this picture of dirtbag mass murderer Che Guevara dead on a slab in Bolivia. On top it'll read "S--T Guevara" (except it'll be the real curse word) and on the bottom there will be a little head shot of Moe from The Simpsons and he says his famous line first applied to a monkey knife fight, "He ain't pretty no more."

So, whatta ya think?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's Wrong Wit Chew?

Whilst enjoying cockney poetry yesterday I had to ask myself if I had a double standard with my general hatred of rap music, whose simple rhyme structures and convenient bending and manufacturing of words reminds me that illiteracy shouldn't be celebrated. Word has it Layer Cake should be subtitled for American audiences while The Harder They Come is subtitled from Rasta to English. I have no problem with either of those because they're dialects. Is ebonics a dialect or slang? I lean towards slang when it comes to rap, which makes up words to fit and works to create new expressions with an overreaching desperation.

At my gym, L.A. Crapness, they now play a music channel that continuously repeats 20 songs. They've bettered the mendacity of the top 40 by half. Twice a workout I get to hear "Dirty Little Secret" and a slow-jam, loud clap hip hop song where the woman keeps singing "Wit Chew" (upon which an angel gets his wings). Sometimes I'll respond by saying "Bless You" to nobody in particular. So, as I hear "Wit Chew" this morning I realize it's wrong of me to enjoy an Oi poet saying Ree-Nay-Since instead of Renaissance while looking down on wit chew. Then, then, she croons the most beautiful "with you" I've ever heard and I know it's a lie. Street my ass.

One more rant about rap. The KKK couldn't have come up with a better scheme to keep minorities uneducated, poor and angry. Only the Taliban treats women with more contempt. Excel!.. I mean, Word!!

1/20/06 update: People dare debate my rightitude on this issue?! Well!! All I need to know about (c)rap I learn from sitting at traffic lights next to cars blasting it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Review: Son Of Oi!

Another from Captain Oi, a reissue of Son Of Oi! from 1983, the fifth of the Oi comp series originated by journalist and musician Garry Bushell, whose site is worth a visit for the long history of Oi, a violent comedy of contradictions that could only be made into a film using Punch and Judy hand puppets. The only skin I know now works the door at a Goth club and screams that he wants to beat somebody into a coma. But he's not a nazi!

Bushell claims that by the time of Son Of Oi! the scene was ending. Maybe as thinly defined by Bushell, and maybe it's surprising it lasted at least two years to begin with. Padded with a bit of filler, Son Of Oi! is a great collection of punk music and poetry in styles including goth, roadhouse blues, country and synth pop, all with a working clarse bent. The cover reads, "The Oi organizing committee presents a raccous resurrection of rebellion, rumination & rumbustious revelry......"

Cock Sparrer opens with a live version of "Chip On My Shoulder". Other highlights are "Generation Landslide" by Prole (a bit of Clash), "Violent Playground" by Clockwork Destruction (sharp chords), "Andy Is A Corporatist" by Attila and the Newtown Neurotics, "On The Streets" by the Four Skins, "Out In The Cold" by The Business (their best song ever), "Make Mine Molotov" by Maniac Youth (a boot stomper if there ever was one) and "Manifest Oi!" by Oi The Robot (steals an Ultravox riff).

The poetry is just as good, my favorite by Phil Sexton, which starts "Every Thursday evening, the wallies watch the box, settle down in their rainbow gowns and watch Top Of The Pops." He pronounces Renaissance as "Ree-Nay-Since". I'm also pretty good at lip-synching the Garry Johnson poems, "Loves to revel in the boot boy glory, but when he's in his closet he's a typical Tory...."

I like most of the b-tracks probably just out of nostalgia. I firmly believe most music ages poorly and it's hard to teach an old ear to like old songs of little current merit.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Review: The Violators - The No Future Years CD

Captain Oi!, gawd's gift to 2nd wave UK punk, has released (finally) the sum total of the 1981+ era career of The Violators, who released a handful of singles and a 12" on No Future Records before changing their name to Taboo and recording post-post-punk songs, some included here. They were a decent band who recorded one of the best Killing Joke songs that band never wrote or recorded. More on that later.

I'm having a hard time finding out who their band members were and what they had for lunch today. One dressed like a droog as did The Adicts. When the songs are sang by the female singer(s?) the tunes lean heavily towards Siouxsie and Vice Squad backed by Killing Joke. The male singer fronts very heavy Killing Joke pound-fests. "Summer Of 81" is credited with reflecting the political mood of the time, but then again what song didn't. The reason to buy this cd is to own "Gangland", like I said the best Killing Joke song not by Killing Joke. No matter how many times I hear it my eyeballs still roll into my head and like in Scanners somebody's head explodes.

With this cd I now own the best quality recording of "Gangland" I can find. Me happy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cute Overload and Death To Millions

I really, really enjoy the nice pictures of animals at Cute Overload. I'm old enough, big enough and mean enough to not care if that doesn't sound cool to anyone. I can't say I even took notice of all things cute until my niece was born years back. Whatever she liked I liked and whatever she thought was adorable I did too. The math was and is that simple.

I often wonder how many of the worst people on the planet would have to die in order for there to be a noticeable improvement in the world. I mean the worst scumbags - serial rapists, child frickers, heroin dealers, murderous gangs and the like. My friend Dave says 90% but he's a nihilist. I learn more towards 10%. Do you have an opinion on this?

My motorcycle license plate was stolen this week. It only cost me $17 to replace, which for theft/vandalism is cheap. My previously stolen side panels cost $250. Unless he did it to buy bread for his starving family I hope the fugg loses an arm and a leg in an industrial accident. "Bye, honey, I'm off to my job of committing crime!" F U.

That's me, protect and cherish cute things and wish horrible pain and suffering for scumbags. Ain't I cute?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Review: Dischord 1981: The Year In Seven Inches

In 1993 Dischord Records released this 48 track collection of first wave HarDCore ditties from five bands – four and a half if you consider the Teen Idles the rough draft for Minor Threat. In 1981 I was living in Maryland and attending college, and even then I was older than most of the kids in that scene. It flew under the radar even in DC. They seemed like a tight bunch well organized, and if you wanted to see the bands in person you could drive to Rockville and they’d sell you records at Yesterday & Today Records, the local musician’s workfare program.

Dischord proved that with artistic talent and a few bucks you could put out records and sell them cheaply. Y&T’s Skip Groff showed Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson how to do it and the fellers took it from there. Minor Threat led the way and they were by far the tightest and most talented band of the lot.

I have a theory the local scene’s hardcore at the time was the Ramones played at 78 rpm, and under all the fast and furious are actual melodies. I didn’t think that then because it was so loud and fast I thought they’d be lucky just to make it through a song without breaking something internal. Minor Threat hit like a train the same way the Ramones did when they started. My theory doesn’t work so well with Youth Brigade and either Faith or Void (I never knew what side of their split I was listening to), who tended more toward slow metal played fast.

The Teen Idles are average. Neck Rollins fronting S.O.A. are great, sometimes steaming along like D.R.I.. Minor Threat rule. Government Issue were great early on even though the vocals suffer from sameness and also sounding like a dog barking. Youth Brigade were also great even though they were heavier than I like.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The People's Progressive Truth Generator

Todd brings to our collective attention this great time-waster from The People's Cube:

The People's Research Institute (PRI) has found a way of stopping right-wing ideology in America and ending our losses at the ballot box: we need to face our opponent's "facts" and "logic" by learning how to frame the debate. The Progressive Truth Generator™ will help you to set the terms of debate on issues in your favor and quickly terminate all discussion!

Attention progressive, socialist, liberal, pacifist, anarchist, feminist, or environmentalist debaters! Whether you are fighting class enemy over the Internet, in school, or at your parent's house over dinner, this tool is for you. No more awkward mumbling or looking for the right word!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Review: Elvis Costello - Blood & Chocolate

By my reckoning 1986's Blood & Chocolate was Elvis Costello's last hoorah before trailing off into a career more Burt Bacharach than Patsy Kline. Backed by The Attractions and produced by Nick Lowe, Blood & Chocolate retains the anger of This Year's Model but throws in some of the raw pep of Get Happy! and some soul from Punch The Clock - along with the usual tunes that could be performed by either Burt Bacharach or Patsy Kline in their own style. The new element in the mix is some wiggy psychedelic guitar lines. All in all it's a great album.

My favorite tracks are of course the fast ones ("Tokyo Storm Warning", "Honey Are You Straight Or Are You Blind", "Seven Day Weekend" and "Blue Chair", the faster version!) The slower "Blue Chair" and "Battered Old Bird" also work for me. I'm a sucker for the farfisa organ and a strong bass line, and The Attractions never let me down.

This is the third paragraph where I sum it up and try to be witty.................How'd I do?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Why I Hate "Art", Part 36B

Exhibit A:

A 76-year-old performance artist was arrested after attacking Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" _ a porcelain urinal _ with a hammer, police said.

Duchamp's 1917 piece _ an ordinary white, porcelain urinal that's been called one of the most influential works of modern art _ was slightly chipped in the attack at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the museum said Thursday. It was removed from the exhibit for repair.

The suspect, a Provence resident whose identity was not released, already vandalized the work in 1993 _ urinating into the piece when it was on display in Nimes, in southern France, police said.

During questioning, the man claimed his hammer attack on Wednesday was a work of performance art that might have pleased Dada artists. The early 20th-century avant-garde movement was the focus of the exhibit that ends Monday, police said.

A 2004 poll of 500 arts figures ranked "Fountain" as the most influential work of modern art _ ahead of Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," Andy Warhol's screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and "Guernica," Picasso's depiction of war's devastation. "Fountain" is estimated at $3.6 million.

Exhibit B:

Killing cats isn't art — it's pure evil

These two young men — Wennekers was 26 and Powers 23 — made a video of themselves mutilating a cat, and then called it performance art. During much of the 17-minute tape, which is too gruesome to describe, the cat remained alive, screaming and meowing in pain.

Parody: Sweet! The Onion put this up again. I guess their archive service didn't make money.

Performance Artist Shocks U.S. Out Of Apathetic Stupor

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bob Mould's Body Of Song's Bonus Disc's Worthiness

I'm a big fan of this, which I've had for a while, but just heard the bonus disc found on this. Don't blow the dough, Joe, unless you love both Black Sheets Of Rain and disco-fried club dub remixes. There's a reason why none of the songs on disc two made it to disc one. What the hell kind of titles are these?: (Shine Your) Light Love Hope [Morel's Pink Noise Mix] [Mix], (Shine Your) Light Love Hope [Morel's Pink Noise Dub] [Dub] and Paralyzed [Loudbomb Club Mix] [Mix].

I hope I never come to understand the secret code language of the disco world. Oy and Oi!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Review: The Queers - Summer Hits Vol. I

I'm having a hard time thinking of this as a review since Summer Hits Vol. I is product no matter how swell it might be. It's either an excuse to tour or something to sell on tour. I've loved these guys through all their phases (Angry Samoans/Screeching Weasel/Beach Boys) and while it's nice to hear songs old, new, borrowed and blue, I have to ask why. It's none of my business but there's something missing here, like waiting for the latest episode of your favorite show and finding out the next few weeks will be reruns.

Singer/guitarist Joe King's guitar is nicely tuned to where the chords chime like tones. The Who's "The Kids Are Alright" make a nice transition to fast and fuzzy while their take on The Angry Samoans' "My Old Man's A Fatso" is an acknowledgment of a debt beyond measure. The Samoans get the short shrift in punk history with Green Day getting credit for what the Samoans did much earlier. A Effin A on that.

This also can't be a hits collection because "I Only Drink Bud" isn't on it. Feh.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year, New Schedule

For nine months I wrote a daily entry for every business day, as part of my evil master plan. In phase two I won't be writing every day but only when I have something to say or to review. No more deadlines for me!

That said, please tell me why my gym plays Kiss 21. It alternates between commercial alt.rock and slow jam hip hop where every song is set to the same hand-clap beat. That people like both at the same time is beyond my comprehension. Every time a rapper sings "Wit Chew" instead of "With You" and angel gets his wings.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Review: The Confessions Of Robert Crumb

1987's The Confessions Of Robert Crumb is an odd juxtaposition to the superior 1994 documentary Crumb. Written by Crumb, financed by the BBC and logging in at 55 minutes, it's confessional as usual yet not that revealing since straight the man's too Freudian and on drugs too hallucinogenic. He doesn't hold back or lie about himself but there's something missing. He's both a cipher and the most influential (and prolific) underground artist of all time, which the latter film revealed much to Crumb's regret.

The Crumb Museum is worth a long visit. My sentimental favorite is A Short History Of America while the juvenile in me will always treasure Tommy Toilet. The guy who flushes himself down the toilet is also nice.

You wouldn't think Crumb would agree to dress up and undress to act in skits about himself, but here he does. That can't be cool in anyone's book. He's a successful failure and a loser whose talent makes him a winner. He's fascinating as a man only to a point because in spite of all his talent and eccentricities he's smaller in life than in his work. The Confessions Of Robert Crumb is a diminishing dog and pony show you'd never think he'd participate in, especially as its creator.