25 December, 2013

Prince Goes to Chicago for Xmas

18 December, 2013

Prince Tries His Hand At Snow Removal

11 December, 2013

Prince Nearly Gets Jack-Slapped At The Bus Stop

10 December, 2013

Charlie Appears in a Pretentious Music Documentary

In my attempt to explain to Keith that guitarists only pick up the guitar because it looks cool, I affected an English accent and an air of self-importance and faked being in a music documentary.
The results speak for themselves: This is the worst eight and a half minutes you will spend this week.

04 December, 2013

27 November, 2013

20 November, 2013

02 November, 2013

Here's the short version of what's been happening lately.

Just a heads up: I'm identifying only two people in this post by name. I'm also going to leave a good deal of personal shit out of it that I figure the people I actually give a shit about don't want out there. I'm also omitting my own personal conspiracy theory and sticking to the facts.
Now, while it's said to be bad form to talk shit about a former employer, I A) have been told that I won't be getting a reference anyway and B) figure that I can't completely describe my motivation for leaving my job without noting the affronts against me and my coworker.
I don't really intend to write a long-winded screed against my previous employer, I'm just explaining my recent absence from posting. So, if you're a fan of either blog or a friend or acquaintance that's been curious, here it is.
If we're friends on Facebook, it's likely that you've seen me posting about the absurd amount of resumés I send out on a daily basis. It may annoy you, even, but I see it as revenge for all of the baby pictures I have to see on my news feed. But, in case you were wondering what was up, probably even wondering why there haven't been any record reviews (at SD&A) or stories about Prince (at SAP and SD&A), this is what happened.
On Friday, 11 October, Georgie, my best friend / sister-by-proxy / co-manager at the hostel and I got in trouble with the owner for hiring a cleaning lady without approval and giving her a bed in exchange for services. We were then given the weekend to "think about what we did" and come up with an appropriate reprimand for ourselves. Basically, the owner was acting like a parent and treating us like children.
So we had a big shindig planned for the twelfth, a three lasagna get-down with all three Evil Dead movies, marathon style. We figured it would be best to cancel that seeing as how we were basically going to get a twenty six hundred dollar reaming on Monday. That's right: The owner wanted to be compensated for the seventy eight days that the cleaning lady had been staying with us, believing that she had done no cleaning and repeatedly calling her a squatter and rolling her eyes when we insisted that, yes, the cleaning lady cleaned.
Well, Monday came, our meeting got pushed back to the afternoon and then Georgie got fired. I pleaded mercy and got Georgie her job back. The money thing seemed to be forgotten.
And then hell broke loose as the owner's husband came by the next day and began a torrent of verbal abuse, accusing of Georgie and I, employees of five years, of being lazy and never having done any actual work. In alphabetical order, we were called liars, losers, morons, pigs, prima donnas, and thieves. It took only about an hour of this before I told Georgie that it was essentially time to go nuclear: Quit. Quit and move the hell out.
It had always been bad enough that we never received a raise in five years, received no overtime pay (due to some MN legal loophole), received no benefits or vacation or sick time, and that I had worked five Thanksgivings and Xmases in a row, now there was a whole new shit storm to put up with. The staff fridge was taken away from us, we were told we were no longer to use the communal kitchen, the keys to the thermostat and mailboxes were taken from us, and the office phone calls were to be forwarded to the owner's husband who would then call us on our personal phones with the details of the call he received. I was also instructed to add a texting plan to my service package. Because, you know, my personal phone isn't my personal phone anymore. And then it was my responsibility to prevent Georgie from smoking inside (you know, her home) and I was in trouble for drinking on the premises (you know, my home), despite that I never drank on the clock. Then the owner herself came in and further accused us of laziness and thievery and then the money issue was back on the table: If we wanted to keep working at the hostel, Georgie and I would have to sign a contract to make it nice and legal for the owner to retain our checks. Whether it would've been the whole thing or a percentage was not a detail that was gone into. The basic premise of it was thrown at us and then the owner left in a huff.
It was pretty much then and there that there was no more waffling about it: We had the option of working for the winter and not getting paid or not working for these people at all and not getting paid.
We made it through the week and then on Friday we called the owner and told her we quit. Half of Georgie's things were already at a friend's house along with half of mine. I just had to move some furniture and I would be moved out.
Well, the owner didn't like the idea of us up and quitting and told us we had to give two weeks' notice. Georgie and I considered it, it would be an extra paycheck, wouldn't it? We could still work here surrounded by the Help Wanted posters that replaced our bike maps and local resources posters, couldn't we? So we figured we'd give it a try.
On Saturday, the owners' kid called and told us that the husband was coming over after Shabbat was over and that he (the kid) had a long talk with the owner and the husband, vouching for us because he'd worked with us for a while, actually, and there was no way that the word "thief" applied to us; he said that they were willing to work something out with us because we had put in five years, after all. But the owner's husband gets over there and I ask him point blank what's going on. He starts nodding his head from side-to-side, playing mum, playing Mr. Nice Guy all of a sudden.
After five years of the guy's verbal abuse, I finally decided to nut up and tell him to just be straight with us. He then starts playing the victim, as though we had taken food out of his kids' mouths, again, we were being called thieves. And then we were told that we couldn't quit because where would we go? Nobody would hire us except for maybe McDonald's. And then he starts talking, well, rambling, really about all the great new plans he has for the hostel - vending machines, self-service laundromat, installing lockers in the walls, and upping the price per night because we're the only hostel in town, and he wants our opinions.
Georgie and I could not have cared any less. It was time to leave.
So Monday rolled around and Georgie terminated her two week notice and didn't come in for night shift. I spent the day erasing all evidence of us from the office computer. Every .mp3, every .avi, every .jpg, every .doc that had anything to do with me or Georgie was deleted. I then made a list of responsibilities for the incoming staff - you have to keep in mind that Georgie and I were the staff, we knew every in and out of the booking system, the calendar, who got emailed time cards, who got emailed supply requests, who to call for plumbing, who to call for when the website went down. I made sure the new staff knew these things and then, at five o' clock, I left.
The new staff wanted to know if she could call me if she needed anything. I told her no. I don't work here anymore. I'm going to the liquor store and then I'm going to my friend's apartment where I'm bunking for a while.
That night, Nonagon John and I hung out. In the middle of it, the owner calls me up and basically reams me for quitting, telling me that I can't put her down as a reference because I didn't give proper notice.
I said OK.
The next morning, I woke to find that the owner had sent me a two-part text asking me to confirm that I had not given proper notice. I ignored it and got dressed for the interview I had that afternoon. Then the husband called me. I hit ignore and finished putting on my shoes.
Now for the good news...
I quit my job at 1700CDT, 21 October, 2013. Within the first twenty four hours, I was waking up with the sunrise for the first time in three years. I'm naturally a morning person and I had missed doing this in my basement unit at the hostel.
I also found that I was drinking less. Like only half as much as I had been then when I was living and working at the hostel. As a result, I have not been hungover once in close to two weeks.
Also - and this part is surprising even for me - my gums have grown back. For a while, like too long of a while, my gums were bleeding and receding. After a week, they stopped bleeding and had returned to where they ought to be sitting on my teeth.
I'm wearing a shirt and tie daily now, aside from the weekend when I get to wear a t-shirt again but I'm starting to feel awkward without a proper shirt and tie.
As far as nobody hiring aside from "maybe McDonald's", as of this post, I've put out one hundred seventy six resumés and I've had multiple interviews so far, including two coming up on Monday, 4 November, for much much better paying jobs.
And then I have a friend who's looking at a house with her boyfriend. I told her that I'll take her apartment as soon as she moves out. It's in a brownstone in a quiet corner of Stevens.
Georgie's doing well, too. We talk almost every day, albeit for only fifteen or twenty minutes, but she's feeling and doing better, too.
So that's what's been going on. And with how things have been going, I'm confident that I'll be employed again shortly. More important than that, probably, is that neither me or Georgie has to put up with any of the ridiculous bullshit or abuse anymore.
Things should get back to normal shortly, whatever normal is. In the meantime, these two people are pretty much available. You should hire them.

05 October, 2013

Click to enlarge...

Recent Love (Uh, Does Anybody Need To Talk About Anything? Edition)

Nonagon, The Last Hydronaut
OK, so here's the thing about the new Nonagon record: It's darker than last year's People Live Everywhere. It's still recognizably and most definitely Nonagon but it's not the same Nonagon. OK, I'm going to make a really bad comparison here, so bear with me. You know how everybody and their brother is losing their shit over these fucking Nirvana reissues? OK. Good. Wanted to make sure you remembered that band. Got them in your mind? They had that mulatto song and the hey, wait, blah blah blah? OK. Good. We're all on the same page of cultural relevance. Here's where I'm going with that: If People Live Everywhere was Nevermind, The Last Hydronaut is In Utero.
See? I told you it was going to be a bad comparison.
And no. That does not mean that No Sun is Bleach. No Sun is The Dhalia Seed's Survived By.
Alright, this is just turning into a fucking mess.
Long and short of it is that The Last Hydronuat sounds a sight angrier than I'm used to hearing Nonagon. The band still careen and skitter but the arrangements are more straightforward, less mathy than I've heard. It's kind of ridiculous to say that Nonagon stripped things down for this record when you consider that they're a no-frills power trio to begin with, employing minimalist DIY ethos to begin with. But it sounds like something has been extracted from them on this outing and I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it.
And that's not to say I don't like Nonagon's "fuck you" to the twentieth anniversary re-release of Krist & Dave Make Courtney More Money. I mean, come on, it's Nonagon. When the fuck am I going to get let down by Nonagon? It's just that the Nonagon on this record are playing with a different kind of fire than they had before. John throwing out the "fuck you"s in the middle of "Elvis"? That's new. I can't recall ever hearing a Nonagon song with a "fuck" in it. Maybe I'm not listening closely enough. And speaking of fucking, "Hydronauts", in a few places, sounds like Nonagon's putting in a bid to start making fuck rock. I'll endorse that. Robert's already a manimal on bass, I bet if you get him on some Funkadelic and James Brown shit? With the way John can do the clang-chicka thing on guitar and Tony's snare work? Do you have any idea how many babies would get made after a Nonagon show? Put Nonagon on tour and watch out for a population spike in each city nine months afterward. Do you have any earthly idea how absolutely fucking disgusting a Nonagon show would be if they started playing fuck rock? Just sweat and spit and naked people that smell oddly of grape seed oil. And, fuck, I'd be at every show because that hot bartender's not going to bone herself. The gals that would even bother wearing panties to the show would do so only to throw them on stage. And then Nonagon's wives (the Nonettes?) would be all jealous and suspicious and shit. And then the band starts doing coke off of stripper tits while the Nonagon wives slowly turn into a group of Scorsese-directed-period-piece-Sharon-Stones that start drinking Cape Cods before noon and wearing dark dark dark oversized sunglasses and then cue the refrain of "Gimme Shelter" for the scene when Nonagon are coming out of the stadium only to see their tour van blow up and then we do a vertical wipe and we find the band on a Huey over the jungles of North Vietnam looking dissolute and depressed, wary from their years in the shit, having seen too many friends die and now the killing is automatic and the value of life is but naught to them and they've all but forgotten only the basic tenets of Nietzsche and the only one of them that can bear to smile through the existential crisis they're having is starting to look a little like Willem Defoe and then the movie jumps forward to the band dressed in gold robes on a bed of money in a big red room and there's more coke because this is a Scorsese movie and Jack Nicholson shows up and does that weird hiss-laugh thing he does and Michelle Pfeiffer calls them all a bunch of bastards and then they have to go home only to find their wives are all remarried to Ray Li-fucking-otta and then there's another car bomb just for good measure, this time to the tune of "Sympathy for the Devil". Can you imagine how fucking awesome that Nonagon show would be? All they have to do is start playing some fuck rock.
However, Nonagon aren't playing fuck rock, so we'll have to wait on that one.
In the mean time, we have this vaguely angrier Nonagon crafting - actually crafting - smart and in a few places anthemic, in a few others topsy-turvy punk rock. As they won the Cycle Rage award last year, they've pretty much clinched it again. I listened to it on my bike and I found that The Last Hydronaut was, to my ears, even more appropriate to listen to while battling Hennepin Avenue traffic. Particularly "King Corky". "King Corky" and "Elvis" back-to-back? Damn, son. I'm wondering if anybody needs to talk about anything.
I'd like to expound on some angle of The Last Hydronaut other than the overt pissed-off-ness on it but that's the most striking part about it. That's why I said "overt". Is it My War? No. Is it Hate the Police? No. While it is, I think, the most straightforward record the band has made yet, it's not that caliber of straightforward. It has elements of exalting waltzes and lumbering, thuggy beat-you-ups that set it apart from those staples of hardcore punk, which was never an element I ever heard on their records, honestly. But where No Sun and People Live Everywhere were perfectly OK to pass in a dark alley, The Last Hydronaut is the one that looks like it's just waiting for you to say something. It's not antagonistic so much as it's antagonized. And it also happens to have a switchblade in the ass pocket of its jeans. It's the record that sits at the end of the bar, smokes unfiltered cigarettes, never takes off its leather jacket, reads nineteenth century French Dadaist and mid-twentieth century Beat literature, and has a Glasgow smile. It's the record that would challenge Tyler Durden to, well, just about anything. Even a spelling bee. And win.
To cut my fucking hyperbole out, there's something I said earlier: It's not antagonistic, it's antagonized. There's a feeling of having "just about enough of this shit" on this record. And it's pretty damned great.
This is also the first Nonagon record to come out on the label they started with the Austerity Program, Controlled Burn, and you can buy it there. You should buy it there. You should really just buy it. Or, you can do like I did: Start a shitty blog, befriend the bands, and get a review copy. But that will take you some time and you're not as good with words as I am. So you should just go buy it. And be nice to it. It's already pissed off for some reason.

21 September, 2013

Recent Love (Is Recent Love Edition)

Tyranny Is Tyranny, Let It Come From Whom It May
OK, PRF. For real. I get it. Victory and Associates sounds like a porny thing when abbreviated. Now you hand me Tyranny Is Tyranny? Really?
Tyranny Is Tyranny swings - oh, god, that could have come out wrong - between gentle, nearly romantic melodic metal and big, nasty rifftastic metal. Their website says they're post-metal. Well, I don't know what the fuck post-metal is. I don't know what a lot of shit is. Like last week when I said Boddicker was metal, M. told me they were more like power violence. I don't know what the fuck power violence is. I know what metal is, though, so fuck it, I'm calling Tyranny Is Tyranny metal. Yes, even though I have this LP filed under "punk" on my hard drive. I've told you before that I don't know shit and that I can't be trusted. Honestly, I don't know why you keep coming back here.
Back to the point, Tyranny Is Tyranny is the kind of metal that bookworms will like - they take their name from a chapter in a Zinn book, after all - and the kind of metal that Harvey Milk fans will like - check the piano work on the instrumental "The Haze of Childhood". It's a smarter metal, is what I'm saying. It's still aggression of metal but it's not angry for no reason - can anybody tell me what any fucking Metallica song is about? I mean, they're so metal that they have the word in their name. James Hetfield's been talking about death and dying and being unforgiven and dying and death and all that nonsense for thirty fucking years. Tyranny Is Tyranny, however, are at least dealing with present issues that affect people's lives, presented in a manner positively affect their outlook, be it a call to arms for social action or grass roots campaigning or going off the grid or lessening their carbon footprint. I know, I know, I know, that all sounds like some hippie ass bullshit.
Well, what the fuck else do you want a band to talk about?
Satan? Done that. In fact, it's pretty boring most of the time and I'm saying that as a guy who likes Satan.
Death, dying, et al? Done that. Hetfield and Mustaine have been competing for the exclusive rights to that for years.
Fucking? Well, that one's been done ad nauseum. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Rob Halford might be the only man in metal who didn't make hetero sex sound icky. For real. Remember when KISS did "Lick It Up"? Goddamn, man, I wanted to gag. ZZ Top's "Pearl Necklace"? Fuck man, have some goddamned civility.
Speaking of civility, I guess that all that was left in the metal world was civil issues, social issues, political whatsits. And who took over on that front? Fucking Rage Against the Machine. Not that there was anything wrong with Rage Against the Machine but after a while the ubersocialist schtick got old when you realized those guys were on Epic Records. And then Zack De La Rocha pulled a Dave Chappelle and went on sabbatical and the other three guys got together with the guy from Soundgarden and everybody was curious about that and then it came out and it fucking sucked.
How the hell could anybody take Rage Against the Machine seriously after that?
Thus, you need a metal band to address societal issues, you're going to want a band from the tremendously fucked epicenter of fuckedness, Madison, WI. So we had, for a while, anyway, The United Sons of Toil, and now we have Tyranny Is Tyranny. Thank fuck.
Now, granted, the songs are on the longer side - you're investing about four to eight minutes at a pop - but that's because some of those songs are epics in miniature; trust me, "Always Stockholm, Never Lima" is worth the seven minute twenty one second ride. At the end, you get the kind of crescendo that would make Explosions in the Sky cream their own jeans.
The only thing negative I'm going to say about it is that I can't understand a fucking thing anybody's saying. I listened to it on my headphones, I'm listening to it on the big speakers right now as I type this. I can't make out probably eighty percent of the words. I mean, sure it comes with a lyric sheet but, man, I aint got no goddamned time for reading, I'm trying to rock for Christ's sake. Outside of that, I got no complaints.
Let It Come From Whom It May is a good time, probably best spent as a soundtrack to riding a bike through weekend traffic - don't wear headphones during weekday rush hour unless you've got a deathwish. Believe me, the irony was not lost on me that this is a severely anti-capitalist band and I was listening to this while I was grocery shopping, cashing my paycheck, and buying a thirty six pack of johnnies from the pharmacy where the lady at the counter asked for my CVS card and I showed her my CVS card and she scanned my CVS card and then she wants my email address. Well, that shit crossed the capitalist line, right there, boy. I told her, "No, I don't need anybody emailing me." I'm buying the economy - heh heh - pack of rubbers, what the fuck is this corporation going to email me about?
And then it strikes me that when I reviewed the last United Sons of Toil record that I had been listening to it while I was shopping. And that made me feel a bit weird. But I'm shopping for food so I don't feel bad about that. And I bought the gym hats so that I can have indiscriminate sex without producing babies or picking up a VD and placing or becoming a burden on society's (largely nonexistent) healthcare system so I can't feel bad about that. And I put my money in a bank because I don't have any spare pickle jars to bury in the yard.
Obviously, I kid, but considering the half-assed bullshit I usually write on weekends where I don't make an adobo marinade or scrub my bathtub, the fact that I even got this much out is a miracle. Parts of it were even a record review. I think. It's somewhere in there.
Tell you what: I'm going to go to Octoberfest and meet up with a couple friends. You do yourself a favor and listen to Let It Come From Whom It May. TIT did a wonderful job on it.
Come on, I had to do it once.

18 September, 2013

14 September, 2013

Recent Loves (Ground Dick Edition)

About a month back, I went and saw some of the going ons at Grind Your Fucking Dick Off Fest at the VFW over on Lyn-Lake. Here are the treasures I picked up from the merch booths.
Oh, and just as an aside, seeing as how there's a useless lot of debate on Facebook lately concerning the matter of output mediums, these are all on cassette. Those of you that want to shake your heads and grumble some shit talk, keep rolling your eyes and being fucking snobs about first world problem shit. I'll be over here listening to music.
Scaphe, Echo Of Ape
Scaphe is a Minneapolis trio made up of two bassists and a drummer that alternate between sludgy dirges with sudden, blitzkrieg blast beats. As with most two-bass bands, Scaphe's bassists aren't playing along with each other, rather, they play differing, complimentary parts, which is more or less the only way you can really use two instruments in the same octave range and timbre work effectively. Otherwise, you may as well be playing Spın̈al Tap's "Big Bottom", I mean, as long as we're having honesty time here.
Echo of Ape reminds me, in places, of Kylesa's first record ("Seething" in particular has a section that sounds remarkably akin to "Descend Within"); it is thoughtfully orchestrated and flows, rather than shifts, from (the, like, two) quiet passages (on the whole record) to loud ones. Meanwhile, the eighty bajillion tempo shifts and the fact that one of the basses sounds almost synth like at times keep monotony at bay.
The first three songs are under two minutes, hell, the second one is just a second over one minute, just bam bam bam and the side one closer, the title track, is a little over four minutes. Side two is one long song, two songs put together actually, clocking in at nine minutes. That's it. The whole kit and kaboodle is seventeen and a half minutes, so you really have no excuse to no listen to this. I mean, you do come here to have me tell you what to listen to, right? I'm assuming that the only reason anybody here would have a Mariah Carey best-of is because they just want to choke one out to the pics in the liner notes. Because that's the only reason I'd have one.
I'm not saying I do, I'm saying that if I did have one, it'd just be for jerking to the pics, I can understand that that would be an incentive to owning any Mariah Carey CD. Thankfully, though, I can just Google Image Mariah Carey and I don't have to - Wait.
What are we talking about again?
Boddicker, Mitch Is The Bastard
Come on, man. They're called Boddicker. And they play the four songs in seven minutes and forty six seconds on a cassette limited to two hundred duplicates that your band can't play. How's about that?
This is straightforward fast, pissed off heavy metal. Four guys just getting in a room, the guitar and bass get plugged in, the drummer get behind the kit, maybe the singer does that thing Rollins does where he loops the mic cable over his knuckles - I don't know, it seems like a thing singers ought to do - somebody counts to four and the band plays. It's not adventurous music because it doesn't have to be. This is fuck-you-up music.
There are no intros or outros, no solos, no bridges, no background vocals, no overdubs, I think there might be one breakdown, and everybody in the band has one job. That's it. That's the whole scope of Mitch Is The Bastard: It's basically 2012's angriest collection of power chords and there's absolutely no reason for you to not listen to this one, either. You can't have me believe that you don't have, you know, less than eight minutes to spare. You're on the internet, right now, reading a half-assed record review.
You can either take my recommendation or you can go back to playing Bejeweled or whatever the hell else you were doing, it's no skin off my dick. But you know that you can actually play these records in the background, right? You can. You can play Scaphe's Echo Of Ape is here and Boddicker's Mitch Is The Bastard is here and then go back to your game of Tetris or whatever while you listen to these. It's not like you have anything else going on, come on, just being here reading this is an admission of having no priorities. Well, guess the fuck what. You came here looking for something to do? I'm giving you something to do. Now quit being a bonny ponce and get on it.

11 September, 2013

04 September, 2013

31 August, 2013

Recent Love (Solid Bros Against Karl Rove Edition)

Victory and Associates, Better Luck Next Life
First of all, I like how when I shorten this band's name - V&A - it sounds like something off the itinerary for a porno shoot.
OK, so long as we're having honesty time here, I pop this CD into my computer, which opens up iTunes and, much to my horror, seven out of ten of the songs are over four minutes. I don't have that kind of time. I'm a busy man. I can't be spending a hour just listening to music.
But I'll give it a try.
For those of you unfamiliar with Victory and Associates, this is the band that apparently never got the memo that anthemic arena rock was uncool. However, instead of sounding like some novelty 80s throwback or th'fuck ever, V&A (teehee) just write big sounding power pop songs with simple, elegant hooks. Think Replacements and Cheap Trick, not KISS or Journey.
There's also a smattering of social commentary, addressing issues like perceived apathy of youth, hope without action, class privilege, celebrity without merit, etc. If you're even a little on the right wing side, this record is not for you. No, "for serious", this record was not made for you. (I don't know what conservatives listen to, maybe Bieber? Go listen to Bieber. I heard he's turned into a dick, so whether he's a triple threat - singer, dancer, and one fuck of a drummer - or not, he's still a dick. With some ugly tattoos. No, you know what? I'll go with the typo. I almost typed "twattoos". Biebs has twattoos.
Wait. Am I still in the parentheses?)
And then there are a couple of pop culture references, say like the fourth song, "Everything's Amazing (Nobody's Happy)", and the eighth song, ""Are We Having Fun Yet?"".
Now, big arena rock just usually isn't my bag - I think I might have a Cheap Trick best of, I think - so this record, for me, is a grower, not a shower, even on the big speakers. But when I saw V&A (teehee) at the Hexagon, I had a fucking blast. And mind you, that was on a stage only yay big...

It's not even big enough for the whole band.
That's kind of what happened with me and ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Loved them live. Couldn't listen to their records. Thankfully, Better Luck Next Life is listenable compared to the overwhelming majority of AYWKUBTTOD's recorded output. So if you're into left-leaning anthems that tell whiners and righties to shut the fuck up, this is your record. When was the last time you pumped your fist in the air unironically, anyway? Get on this, young'un.

29 August, 2013

There's some thing with some pick-a-year-and-write-a-top-ten-list business clogging up my Facebook feed right now.

I wasn't given a year so I'll just make up a top ten list.

1. Buddy Gomez and His Flying Banditos - Cantina Songs
♦ Cashing in on the popular "Meximania!" of the era, Belize-born saxophonist Buddy Gomez donned a country & western look and put together a four-piece backing band of former ranch hands to sing Spanish-language songs about the white sands, blue waters, and pink sunsets of a country he had only passed through.

2. Three Nights in a Parisian Chateau - Original Cast Recording
♦ Originally panned for its at-the-time racy and revolutionary take on feminism and bedroom politics, this oft-overlooked Broadway gem eventually made it to the silver screen nearly forty years after its final staging.

3. Luisa Bennet - Jump! Jump! Swing!
♦ Noted San Francisco party gal Luisa Bennet's fourth LP of big band numbers is sure to delight even casual fans of the swing genre with her vivacious energy and husky baritone voice that adds an extra suggestion to some of her - ahem - more inviting lines. Be prepared, though. A night on the town with this debutante calls for aspirin and alka-seltzer in the morning.

4. The Peter Falco Big Brass Band - Air Force and Naval Marches
♦ Hands down the hardest working para-military marching band working that year brings their audience a dual collection of favorites. Noted for the innovative (at the time) labeling of Air Force Side and Navy Side on the LP label.

5. The Gordon Sisters - Jesus Take My Love and the Light the World
♦ The Tennessee Christian Sister Trio are at it again, spreading their faith to the ears of all who will let them and their dulcet tones into their hearts.

6. Bleeding Rabbits - S/T
♦ Obscure NJ punk progenitors debut forty eight song LP set the tone for what would become grindcore.

7. Luisa Bennet - More Hopping Numbers for Swinging Lovers
♦ Luisa's fifth record (and second that year) expanded on her repertoire as her band - the Bennetones - expanded to a twenty five piece orchestra. Hits and haymakers like "Never Met a Man Better Than a Full Shot Glass" and "Who's Riding My Caboose?" sent Luisa to the top of the charts and global recognition.

8. "Jiving" Jerry Hamlin - Working Blue After Hours
♦ Funny man "Jiving" Jerry took comedy to places few would dare to on this iconic release, which earned him over a dozen obscenity charges. A rare collector's favorite, Working Blue After Hours is not only hilariously raunchy but a thoughtful dissection of pre-Civil Rights life for homosexual African Americans.

9. Roberto Morgan - Songs to Woo Your Lady By
♦ Who looks better in a pencil moustache and smoking jacket than legendary Franco-Italian crooner Roberto Morgan? Rumored to have written the entirety of this record while vacationing on the southern coast of Spain with his mistress, Roberto pours his heart - and his lust - into every word of this lounge lizard staple.

10. Slim Coolie and his Fabulous Cooliettes - I Like Short Skirts and Six Shooters
♦ Nashville born and Hollywood reared Slim Coolie took a four year break from appearing in pictures and put together country music's first all-female backing band. On their second release, the quintet sing tales of the west as envisioned on Hollywood soundstages, where tumbleweeds breeze by cacti and not a single dispute can't be solved with a dance-off.

You see? That's how you write a top ten list. Now knock it off.

28 August, 2013

24 August, 2013

Recent Love (That Guy From That One Band Edition)

ROTHKO, Prayer Furnace
Anthony from (the great, almighty, unreleased) CHINA emailed me a while back to hip me to this side-project thing he did in Chicago called ROTHKO. What starts with a couple clanging guitar echos that sounds like shit was about to get mathy instead turned into this big, lurching juggernaut that gets down to baseball bat fight tactics so out for blood that if any of your "rock friends" don't like it, they're plainly wrong. Basically, this EP is going to be your full-of-shit barometer for when you're stuck in a conversation with somebody who professes to know this and that and all that about music. Put this EP on your phone and keep it handy for when someone starts talking ridiculous shit. That way, you can pull it out and ask, "What do you think of this?" If they don't dig it, that's your cue to turn it off and walk away. They are clearly clueless and you deserve better.
Not one of the four songs breaks the 3:50 mark, ensuring that each song is nothing but pure, concentrated fuck-you-up. You know, the good stuff. What dreams are made of.
OK OK OK, so what does it sound like?
Well, buckle up and fix a cocktail.
To my ears, I'm hearing traces of Pink Flag and Mclusky Do Dallas in the influences. "Discovery of a Weapon" kicks things off with the aforementioned clanging echoes that turn to truckers' speed drums and near-drone composition and slide guitar acrobatics. "Waiting for Shit" reminds me of a more violently-ready-to-fall-apart "Steady As She Goes" with a screeching brass arrangement that becomes the centerpiece of this exercise in repetition and tension until the tape goes out. "After the Rape" is a study in tempo and rhythm, with creepy need-a-shower-after-hearing lyrics and a handful of varying sections played linearly rather than cyclically (actually my preferred manner of composition). And if you were waiting for the Birthday Party to get back together (which, you know, they can't do), "Tased and Confused" will surely satiate that need. Avoid smoking any grass listening to this or you'll worry that your soul is trying to escape through your ribs. It's as creepy as it is quiet and simple, with a guitar jangle that will remind you of Sonic Youth's "Halloween".
If ever there was an aural punk analogue to Ernst's Une Semaine De Bonté, this would be it.

Recent Love (Couples Tennis Edition)

Post Honeymoon, Second Skin
Normally, when I hear about duos, I think, Great. Who decided they didn't need a bassist this week? I hope they at least have an octave divider.
Normally, when I hear about synth-rock, I hope things sound like Suicide or Devo, otherwise, I'm probably not going to get into it.
So when I get a promo email for Post Honeymoon's new record, it had two strikes against it before I even hit play. Because I am often a wrong man. I accept that.
So I finally get around to listening to the record (my FBook friends will have seen the post I made detailing why I've been delinquent on the reviews lately) and I'm into it. It begins with a pulsing little synth throb and a killer drum beat that Kanye and Jay-Z will be sampling before the close of this year. For real, listen to it and tell me that beat won't be at the center of a sampling storm that will rage until 2015 and then again in about twenty years when it will be declared "The New Amen Break". Don't believe me? I don't blame you. As I said, I am often very wrong about these sorts of things. At any rate, "Schoen and Schaden" sucked me in. "The Hunter" reminded me of some of the grime music that I'm all that familiar with, but with vocals that I can understand.
Still, it takes a few listens before I can really get into it and there are three songs before you get to a real a jumper, "Olympia", which is as close as the Post Honeymooners get to a four-on-the-floor beat on this record. Otherwise, the record has more in common with dub-reggae and -step, Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy score. It's on the mid-tempo dance side. And the title track is so eerie and dark that I think that if I listen to this on some real mind bender of a drug, I could plea insanity and get acquitted of all the charges of homicide. For real, my lawyer could play "Second Skin" for the jury and the jury would have to go, "Oh, fuck. He ate peyote buttons and listened to this? Shit, I smacked my husband last week and that was just because I had the Facts of Life theme stuck in my head for a few hours. Yeah... phew... fuck... uh, not guilty, really. Really. Cut the kid loose."
Just to be clear, I'm not saying that Post Honeymoon have made a hallucinatory knife-murdering record, I'm just saying that you might want to be careful with what you ingest while this record is on because mistakes could be made.
Also? "Unraveling Mr. Murphy", "North Woods", and "Renewed" back-to-back to close out the record? Get ready to draw a pentagram on the floor in lamb's blood and light some black candles because you're about to fuck like goths do.

21 August, 2013

07 August, 2013

03 August, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 7: A Small Turn of Human Kindness

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 2010's A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Written by Charlie Pauken
Well, M. was supposed to handle this one last week (which I figure you noticed by now is missing) so I suppose it's up to me to take on the final entry.
A Small Turn of Human Kindness was, for me, perhaps the least accessible, most difficult record in the Harvey Milk catalog. It's a concept record with a vague story that lets you think you've figured it out and then you notice something else in the lyrics that makes you go "Wait... Wha?", it's slower than anything on earth, all of the songs share a motif (hell, the songs on Side A all share the line "I am sick of all this, too", which happens to be the title of and only line in the third song), and it irks you with the substantial amount of just quiet rather than try to beat you over the head with deafening chaos. It's a tremendously suffocating venture that, I gotta tell you, bums me the fuck out when it doesn't make me check over my shoulder for somebody about to garrote me after double checking the lock on the door.
Only two moments during the Side A closer, "I Know This Is No Place For You", approaches any sort of bombast or grandeur found on previous records but that those two moments are mired in and surrounded by the sonic incarnation of fear and loss and pain and sadness doesn't change the tonality of the song. "I Know This Is All My Fault" also changes things around with a bit of Twin Peaks-ish synth sounds and then some minimalist piano and voice arrangement but its still a fucking bummer.
Whatever this record is about, it's certainly about some sort of tragedy, and the ending is so vague that the two outcomes I can think of are just "still bad" and "worse". I can tell you this much: There is a man, a woman, there's a baby on the way, there's US Highway 41, and there's a deer. And, no, it doesn't go the way you might think. It's still a tragedy though.
So it's mercilessly heavy, a little on the scary side, a lot on the drag side and, OK, so not my favorite Harvey Milk record. But even when they make a record I'm not completely into, it's not a bad record, in fact, it really does deserve your attention. Personally, I wouldn't listen to it after the sun goes down, though. Shit would freak me out.

01 August, 2013

31 July, 2013

20 July, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 6: Harvey Milk

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 2009's Harvey Milk
Written by Charlie Pauken
So here's the story with the first Harvey Milk record. You see, back in '94, some guy wanted to put Harvey Milk out on his label so the band recorded this record and sent him the master tapes, leaving themselves with only one cassette copy, which is pictured on the front cover, here. Then the guy with the master tapes up and disappeared, Hoffa style. Bootlegs of the first Harvey Milk record have been floating around on the internet ever since and the band thought it was time to give their "unofficial" first record a proper release. But how? They didn't have the master tapes, just the cassette of the rough mix.
You are listening to the cassette of the rough mix, mastered by the band's drummer, Kyle Spence. (The drummer on the record is Paul Trudeau).
To tell you the truth, it doesn't sound bad but maybe that's because I've been listening to sludge metal on cassette since the Earth cooled. It's as natural to me as never having been breast fed.
The songs on Harvey Milk are mainly from My Love...: "Merlin is Magic", "My Father's Life' Work", "Jim's Polish", and "F.S.T.P.". A scary assed version of "Plastic Eggs" from Courtesy... makes a showing and "Dating Pressures" and "Anthem" from The Kelly Sessions (the one I don't have) also show up. The three "new" songs include the album opener, "Blueberry Dookie", which, OK, I'll admit it: that's the one that sounds like a Melvins song, "Probölkoc", and "Smile".
Saying "Blueberry Dookie" sounds like a Melvins song is probably a bit detrimental to the band but I have to admit that it sounds like it would be right at home on Lysol. Even the vocals in the breakdown or chorus or whatever that section is supposed to be sound a bit like Buzzo. This is not a bad thing; after all, Lysol was probably the last great stoner-doom-drone-whatever record to be associated with the Melvins name. The issue here is that "Blueberry Dookie" was supposed to be Harvey Milk's opening salvo on the public, basically picking up where Melvins left off when they went to make Houdini. And just to drive a nail further into Melvins' dynasty's coffin, Harvey Milk followed it up with "Plastic Eggs", which, as I mentioned earlier is scarier than shit. It's oppressiveness comes from the mix of grandeur and claustrophobia, it's basically the sound of the giant murder engine thing at the end of Caligula.
"Merlin is Magic" has a fairly different sound. It's played the same but I can pick out different notes in the chords and the recording of the breakdown sounds almost like it came out of a Naked City session; it's a much clearer recording and, side-by-side with the version off of My Love..., I think I would be hard pressed to pick a superior one.
"Dating Pressures" is pure awesometasticness. If you haven't turned your stereo up yet, you will for this one. I want to say it reminds me a bit of Rapeman's "Trouser Minnow", what with Creston's sprechstimme vocals buried under the tension-building descending up-down dyad progression verse. But then the chorus comes in and breaks your fucking coffee table and punches a hole in the drywall.
"My Father's Life's Work" sounds pretty much like the version on My Love...
"Probölkoc" shows off Trudeau's talent for syncopated drum patterns - which, by the way, I've tried counting to at least three times so far and I'm not even sure this is in a three or four - while Creston and Tanner take the rhythmic lead, and they take it all over the place, too, going from a simple, chugging figure to punk and noise breaks. It's essentially what math rock ought to be.
"Smile" is a rumbling little bit with an aggressive snare-on-the-down-beat drum track and heavily echo'd vocals that could easily be a Damaged outtake. This is the one that the younguns will break the furniture to as they scream along the words they don't know. So hire a babysitter. I once read a review of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" (song, not record) that said that "Paranoid" was (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here) "the finest minute and fifty seconds of white boy angst". Well, "Smile" is two minutes and thirty five seconds and it's better than paranoid. I don't know if you have to be white or angsty to get down with this song, but it certainly is young and masculine (not macho) sounding. The song ends with a sample of a stadium crowd cheering.
"Jim's Polish" and "F.S.T.P." are pretty much how we found them on My Love..., though "F.S.T.P" has a xylophone on it.
"Anthem" sounds like it should have been on The Pleaser - Wait. It was on The Pleaser, at least my copy has it. That's fucking weird. Over at RYM, "Anthem" is not listed as being on The Pleaser. Well, anyway, this version includes a nice blues breakdown and solo that isn't featured on the version that I guess is on my copy of The Pleaser but no other ones or something. OK.
No really, this bugs me out. Maybe RYM is wrong. I mean, it is based on user submissions like Wikipedia. And we know how trustworthy Wikipedia is.
So, anyway, Harvey Milk is probably more for completists, truth be told. It's just got early recordings of songs you can find on other records. These are still good versions, though; like I said, "Plastic Eggs" is scarier than hell and "Merlin is Magic" is definitely worth checking out for exhibiting what the difference in recording technique alone can reveal. And there's some stuff you wouldn't have heard otherwise.
Next time on "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band)...
2010's A Small Turn of Human Kindness, which M. called dibs on.

15 July, 2013

"Leviathan" was an OK movie aside from the last five minutes.

For real, 1989 saw a lot of underwater sci-fi / horror / thriller movies, but only one had Peter Weller, and that was Leviathan.
So, hey, just a quick heads up, I am going to discuss only the end of this movie, so if you don't want to know how the movie ends, leave now. Otherwise, you've had twenty four years to watch this thing, I don't want to hear any bitching because I tell you how it ends.
First of all, Leviathan is one of those rare sci-fi horror thrillers that move at a snail's pace, building tension the entire time with a few roller coaster moments when the monster - the believably explained monster that we catch only a few glimpses of - up and offs someone. Basically, it's pretty much how the critics back in the day put it: It's just like Alien... except it's underwater: Weyland-Yutani wanted the Xenomorph and consider the crew of the mining freighter Nostromo to be expendable. (That was Alien.) Tri-Oceanic wants the creature and considers the crew of the underwater mining facility Shack Seven expendable. (That's Leviathan.) So there's that.
Also, just as a quick aside, the amount of workplace sexual harassment depicted in that movie is kind of like "Wha? ... OK, I, uh, guess."
But then comes the last five minutes, that doesn't really ask you to suspend your sense of disbelief or get all wonky... Just joking, it totally does that. We finally have the big reveal for the monster, which looks like it would be more at home in the kind of 50s B-movie that got played at drive-in double features. It's basically a giant fish monster. The special effects crew did do a bang up job with the animatronics on the monster and the exterior or shell or skin or whatever you call it doesn't look all fakey like foam rubber but it's a giant fish monster and it looks as ridiculous it sounds.
In fact, it reminded me of these cheesy aliens I drew last summer...

I bet you're just fuckin' horrified right now, aint you?
So, anyway, with Ernie Hudson and Amanda Pays floating to the surface of the ocean, Peter Weller is still down in Shack Seven with the monster. Mind you, the monster has absorbed the memories of the other five crew members - seriously, that was part of the good part of the movie aka the first ninety three minutes - so it's cut off the air supply to Shack Seven meaning that Shack Seven is about to become depressurized and implode, so he's going to escape... You know, kind of exactly like how Sigourney Weaver had to escape from the Nostromo that was about to self-destruct with the Xenomorph on it? Yeah.
It's in the course of Peter Weller escaping that the monster's face gets caught in the elevator shaft and blood comically sprays all over the helmet of Peter Weller's scuba suit. Then Peter Weller just sraight up bounces out onto the ocean floor and watches as Shack Seven implodes and then begins his ascent to the surface.
Of course, since Ernie Hudson and Amanda Pays left Shack Seven for the surface whole damned minutes before Peter Weller did while Peter Weller made it a point of fucking with the monster that was only going to die in the implosion anyway, they all arrive at the surface at exactly the same time. And it's after all the drama, after all the intrigue and brooding speculative investigation, after all the jumps and starts, and after a halfway forgiveably laughable looking fish monster through the first hour and a half of the movie, that, for some dumb-assed reason, that the screenwriter decided to, you know, for no reason at all, bust out some sharks. The three survivors freak out moderately as the sharks, you know, don't actually attack and Ernie Hudson, I shit you not, says, "Talk about a bad day!"
What the fuck just happened? That's how we're handling this now? A cheese ball line like that after all of that beautiful suspense?
And then, motherfucking then the sharks just take off and the Coast Guard shows up to pick up the survivors when, of course, the creature comes out of the water, bigger and cheesier than ever and, because, I mean, he is the black guy and, come on, we know how this works, attacks Ernie Hudson.
Does Peter Weller go back to save Ernie Hudson? No, because everybody knows Ernie Hudson is dead at this point. No Peter Weller goes back to rip off one more movie: Specifically, the end of Jaws when Roy Scheider says, "Smile, you son of a bitch!" and then shoots the oxygen tank is Jaws's mouth. Yeah, except Peter Weller says, "Say 'ah', motherfucker!" and then throws a grenade or a depth charge or whatever kind of pull-and-throw explosive an underwater mining crew would have - and check the fuck out of this shit out - right into the creature's mouth. Which, you know, blows the monster up.
So then, back on the safety of Tri-Oceanic's offshore oil rig, Meg Foster - who is the evil head of Tri-Oceanic and wanted, like I told you earlier, the creature for R&D - comes up to Peter Well and Amanda Pays and gives them some bullshit line about how she was anxious to launch an emergency evacuation but nobody at the company would believe her and then asks Peter Weller how he's feeling, at which point Peter Weller just straight coldcocks her, you know, as they do in the movies where you can knock a person out with one punch, and says, "Much better," and then the movie just ends. You know, kind of like how he shot Ronny Cox out the window of OCP HQ at the end of Robocop and Dan O'Herlihy asks him his name and Peter Weller just says, "Murphy," and the movie just ends.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the score to the end of the movie is wrong wrong wrong. Like there's this big, peppy, soaring, jovial score, like a military marching band type of thing. Everywhere else in the movie, the soundtrack is completely appropriate. And here? Here it's just distracting, misplaced.
So, there you go. That's how Leviathan ends. udging from the ending alone, it's kind of hard to tell that it's actually a good movie.

13 July, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 5: Life... The Best Game in Town

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 2008's Life... The Best Game in Town
Written by Charlie Pauken
So, last week's episode was hampered by a dying computer and that I got drunk while trying to cope with that doing the best I could OK, so I got drunk. I had to work for twenty minutes, let the thing cool down for twenty minutes, work again for twenty, do dick all for twenty... like that.
This week, I come to you from my new lappie 'puter and the only beer I have in me right now is a root beer. Also? Two junior roast beefs from Arby's because fuck you.
In the two years since putting out the best record ever made, Harvey Milk return slightly to their earlier efforts with Life... The Best Game in Town, opening with "Death Goes to the Winner", featuring a gentle lyrical guitar intro with harmonized vocals evoking imagery of Christmas time before the song, you guessed it, goes bang for the chorus. If you think Pixies or Nirvana cornered the market on the loud-quiet-loud angle, then you've not heard "Death Goes to the Winner". The song goes back to the intro figure for the second verse and then the big bang chorus and then there's the four minute, nineteen second outro, and this song is seven minutes fifty five seconds. That's right: Nearly half this song is the outro. Who did you think you were listening to, anyway? Has nothing I've mentioned about this band sank in? And then, of course, the lyrics in the outro reference Velvet Underground's "Waiting For The Man" because, just like I ate two Arby's junior roast beefs, fuck you.
And then, just to let you know the song is over, I guess, there's a big piano chord.
To kick off "Decades", Kyle Spence's drum kit is given the old "When the Levee Breaks" treatment with the reverb. This song was featured on some NPR show a few years back, right around the time Life... was released, obviously, and there were, what I'm sure, two Ira Glass looking motherfuckers - every male voice on NPR sounds like he looks like Ira Glass to me except for David Sedaris who, for some reason, I see as a clean-shaven Ben Kingsley in my mind's eye - talking about new indie releases for that month and how there's this band called Harvey Milk that takes it's name from the celebrated GLBT politician and civil rights activist and how the band sound nothing like one would expect because apparently A) the only thing that ever was about Harvey Milk, the man, was that he was gay and that informed all of his decisions from his plumbing fixtures to his breakfast cereal because GAY! all the time, you know and B) when all there is about a person is their sexual alignment, the only things that can be associated with them is shitty club music or probably because these two Ira Glass looking motherfuckers have never heard anything heavier than the Vines' "Get Free" coming from the headphones of the stock boy next to them at the Whole Foods that one time. And considering that "Decades" is perhaps one of the most accessible (and, frankly, Zeppelin-esque) songs in Harvey Milk's canon, using all the Jimmy Page reverb tricks, like reverse echo and the aforementioned drum sound and even nicking a few Page/Jones moves, that shows you what the music goons at NPR knew. And they wonder why I don't pledge.
"After All I've Done For You, This Is How You Repay Me?" is just one big ball of riff that makes you want to put down your guitar because, fuck, now you're done. How are they pulling that off? It's enough to make me want to say something shitty about Reign in Blood, it's that good.
"Skull Socks & Rope Shoes" exhibits Harvey Milk pulling off that fine southern-blues-metal-dirge that they pull off so well. I hesitate to say that it's a return to form for them since, as I've explained in previous episodes, they really don't have a form; they just do whatever the hell they want, that is to say whatever they have a genuine interest in, not just dicking around and genre hopping for its own sake. "Skull Socks & Rope Shoes" is probably as fine a primer as you'll find for the uninitiated.
"We Destroy the Family" is a Fear cover with a vaguely funk inspired guitar and bass interplay over taut, syncopated heavy metal tom pounding over spastic kick-snare work reminiscent almost of 80s industrial drum machines and "TV Party"-esque chants. Oh, and I forgot to mention the almost surf inspired guitar solo. Writing it out, it sounds like it shouldn't work. But remember who we're talking about here. They can pull it off.
"Motown" doesn't sound like anything that ever came out of Motown, before you ask. It's actually a relaxing anthemic number, if you can think of what that would sound like. Wait. You don't have to think about it, you can actually listen to this song and then you'll know what a relaxing anthem sounds like.
"A Maelstrom of Bad Decisions" harkens back to "Where the Bee Sucks, There Suck I" off of My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be, the songs could be fraternal twins, really.
"Roses" begins with a piano and vocal intro that's been missing from the last two records and then the whole thing moves into Queen levels of bombast before a brief breakdown and then back into the big arena-reaching howls and soaring arrangement before going back into the breakdown passage again before one last, let's face it, Queen-esque outro.
"Barn Burner" is exactly what the title says it is and it features vocals by some bloke named Andrew Prater that perfectly match with the feeling of the song and Tanner is playing bass faster than humans should be allowed to. For real, why was this band never the biggest in the world?
"Good Bye Blues" sounds pretty final (don't worry, there are two more LPs left) in both title and tone, it sounds like Harvey Milk giving their audience one last taste before they hang it up. Again. (You'll certainly note that there was a nine year gap between The Pleaser and Special Wishes.) That the band could disappear all over again was always on the table, and they do nothing to assuage that fear by playing the closing theme from Looney Tunes at the end of this album closer. And when I say "play", I mean they perform it. It's not a sample, it's the band playing the goddamned closing them from goddamned Looney Tunes
As far as bands that get back together - the dreaded reunion - when Harvey Milk got back together, they didn't coast on playing their hits, no; they picked up where they left off and kept moving forward. How's that for a reunion? And this slab of heavy was their second outing into the reunion. How can you beat that?
Next time on "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band)...
2009's Harvey Milk

08 July, 2013

Hey, Charlie, what happened to Butt Week?

... is a question that nobody ever asks.
To put it simply, the exhaust fan on my 'puter died and I had to drop five hundy on a brand new 'puter that's twice as fast with nearly three times as much memory. So Butt Week got cut a little short; not to mention the 'puter tragedy, which limits my time with my laptop to about fifteen or twenty minutes before it overheats and shuts itself off, hilariously butchered any attempt I tried with the review of Special Wishes I tried to accomplish on Saturday. And trust me, when you have absolutely nothing to do but repeatedly wait for a laptop to cool down so that you can resume working on a project, you have few options with how you spend your time. You know how I chose to spend mine: With a six pack of Kirin Ichiban.
Anyhow, while I should've celebrated the end of Butt Week on Saturday, I'm just now getting around to it. Better late than never, and as the graphic shows, this hasn't killed Butt Week, it's only made it stronger.

06 July, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 4: Special Wishes

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 2006's Special Wishes
Written by Charlie Pauken
OK OK OK, I know I make this joke a lot but seriously, if you do not love this record, you and I seriously, and I'm serious, now, for real, you and I seriously have to reconsider our friendship.
There are very few records in the universe that could be considered perfect to my ears. Marquee Moon, Entertainment!, Pink Flag, Ace of Spades, Mclusky Do Dallas, and in that group belongs Special Wishes.
It's more than a mere metal record, it is Harvey Milk's magnum opus.
It begins with the slower than molasses in January dirge, "I've Got a Love", and you'll know the name of the song because Creston belts out those words at the very opening in that unearthly howl of his: "I've got a love, hot-rod ride, push-button start and five wheel drive." And from there, the pastiche of imagery he conjures may as well be a slow summation of Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!; the lyrics are almost comically masculine and sexy and the music is the sound of a werewolf being birthed; to make another movie reference, the loud, ascending movement in the song could easily be laid over the top of the initial transformation scene from An American Werewolf In London. Basically, folks, if you want to fuck slowly and deliberately on shrooms, this is the song you put on a loop; if you want to feel the force of your chi push out through your ribs, this is the soundtrack.
These are your oats, horsey, and it's only the first song.
"War" follows "I've Got a Love" with a threatening march that transfers to a lurching herky-jerky dizzying piece of drop-dead tight heavy metal that, while not complex or complicated, would probably throw even the cantankerous Zappa for a loop.
Yeah. That's right. I said it. Zappa. What? Show me "the black page". Get at me, you fuck.
"War" is the exactly the kind of mid-tempo metal Melvins wished that they could have perfected on Stoner Witch.
"Crush Them All" is the blues but the special kind of blues that sucks the breath from your lungs with its minimalism. "Crush Them All" is the sound of seeing all those empty bottles of Cutty Sark laying on their sides next to over-stuffed ashtrays and unopened condom packs in the morning and regret settling in. The lyrics here play on old sayings with lines like "curiosity aint what's killing me" and so on. A little more of a taste?
And wouldn't you agree about that famous tree?
If no one was around it didn't fall at all.
I couldn't even care if someone had been there.
When it fell and crushed them all down.
Jesus wept, man. Those are a thing of beauty. Especially when the back drop is that slow pummeling from Tanner's descending bass line, rich with low end and Creston's guitar set to the sound of a goddamned circular saw and new drummer Kyle Spence's unrelenting crash cymbal bashing. For real, this song will fuck up your whole universe. Like the rest of the record, it's a chemical peel for your ears. This number should send you into slowmotion epileptic convulsions.
"Once In a While" is a gentle, introspective respite from the heaviness with what sounds like a piano low in the mix but that could be my untrustworthy ears pulling a trick on me. It's a ballad with an easy one two three four ascending melody line. After all of the violence and suffocation of the first three songs, there's a reassurance in being told "everything will be alright".
"Instrumental" is an instrumental. Well, not really. It's industrial strength paint stripper. It's a fucking power-washer. You could hose down a sweaty elephant with "Instrumental". I mean, really, this thing will just slash through all of your preconceived notions of what constitutes an instrumental. It's a piece that doesn't need words and one of the number in Harvey Milk's canon that displays not merely the competency of the musicians in this band but the prowess and thoughtfulness and dexterity. You wish your band was this good. I wish my band was this good. Ferfucksake, man.
"The End"? Get the fuck out of here with "The End". "You say your life's been unkind, sounds a lot like mine", is the opening line and if you ever had a problem with Creston's voice, you need to listen to this. Through all of the heaviness of the song, juxtaposed with gentle chiming guitars, Creston is singing in a mellifluous voice he hasn't previously used and then harmonizing with himself in the overdubs with intervals reminiscent of the Beatles. You know the Beatles. They're that band that everybody seems to really like. I presume that even the most slavish devotee to Lennon/McCartney would have to admit that there's a bit of White Album in those harmonies. And it's precisely this exploration of vocal layering that would go on to inform the intro to "Death Goes to the Winner" on 2008's Life... The Best Game in Town. Couple this with flourishes of electric piano and you've got nothing but the most succinct amalgamation of Beatles-minded composition and metal ever since some jag-off critic announced that Superunknown was a Black Sabbath record written by the Beatles.
Oh, shit, son. Get ready for "Love Swing". You should look at your list of life goals and crumble it up and throw it in the fucking compost heap because your new life goal from here on out is to fuck to "Love Swing". To break with being so phallic-minded, may I address the ladies?
Ladies, may I implore you? The next time you find yourself the proud queen of conquest, put on "Love Swing". Celebrate yourself. Mount that hot twenty year old stud, blow his mind through the back of his skull and into the neighbor's dining room. Make that young'un beg for more. Wreck him. Give him scoliosis. Make him walk home with a damned limp and red marks on his neck. Ladies, this song belongs on your "Fuck Jams" mix tape if you haven't put it on there already.
Everything on this record sounds like ascension. Everything on this record sounds like rising. Spiritual separation from the corporeal vessel. Ecstasy. Many records seek to attain this emotive response and only few can pull it off. I've listed the few that do it to me above, I probably left a few out, but, for sure, this record does precisely that.
"Old Glory" is a nice little piece of patriotism without being nationalist, enough to make me not want to move to Canada. Well, maybe not enough to make me not want to move to Canada. There's certainly a Friday Night Lights vibe going on here but what can you do? It's still a fun romp, really, and the finger work on the guitar is impressive with a nice little flourish of arena cock-rock coming from both speakers. It really is the one song on the record that makes me uncomfortable but that's because I'm a stinking pinko. So if you watch FOX News and believe any word out of their talking heads, well, A) you and I won't see eye to eye on this record and B) I'm not sure that I can talk to you anymore. I've got a cousin that watches FOX News. I don't ever talk to him. It's like that. But I'm not getting a Rupert Murdoch vibe from this song; it's a song about being proud of your country and fighting wrongs and striving to find a justification behind empty symbolism that any nutter in the tea party could misinterpret, sure, and listening to this song won't make you more forgiving of the Democratic party's move to centro-conservatism but it might make you think a little, I guess.
Whatever. Fuck it. We're not here to discuss politics. I'm just trying to write a goddamned record review that only three people will read. One of whom has not been writing a damned thing during this car wreck, M. I'm actually writing this on a dying computer that I have to replace soon. The exhaust fan has died and now I have about twenty minutes at a time to write before the fucking thing overheats.
So, M., really, can you pick up some of my slack next weekend? Just until the new laptop arrives. Otherwise, our readers will get bullshit reviews like this. And, you know, this whole thing was your idea. I'm not trying to be pissy, but this is the fifth time I've opened the computer and I got this other shit to deal with on top of a busted laptop.
Why do I get the feeling that I'm totally Prindling this review?
I mean, cripes, this is one of the best records ever recorded and now I'm totally biffing it.
So thank the sweet baby Jesus that this is the last song, "Mother's Day". It begins with organ and violin in a composition that should be a traditional piece. It really should.
And, mon petit illiterati, if you want to do your mamas proud, kindly raise your drink with this song at maximum volume. Prost, skoll, and slainte to the woman who let her vagina get ripped up into a Freddy Krueger face so that you could suck air, you ingrate. Maybe your mother doesn't dig metal, maybe your mother doesn't dig opera (yes, this song is operatic, just a heads up), maybe your mother doesn't understand half the weirdo shit you get yourself into but, hey, I got lucky. My mom is cool as fuck. She got me Big Black's Songs About Fucking one Xmas when I was sixteen and the Jesus Lizard's Liar the next when I was seventeen (or maybe it was Scratch Acid's Greatest Gift). She understands that intent overrides presentation. So I send her this song on Mother's Day, she tells me it sounds like "Bohemian Rhapsody". It doesn't, but at least she appreciates it. She shakes her ass to Queens of the Stone Age, she don't give a fuck. She put up with a whole fuck ton of noise from some little rotten bastard kid's bedroom for eons and then just supplied him with more noise. So if you have a mom who is cool as fuck, this is the song you send her. If your mom isn't cool, I can't help you. Maybe, you know, pick up a card at the pharmacy, put a gift card to Denny's in it. All I'm saying is that if your mom is cool as fuck, you send her this song on Mother's Day, let her know that it was cool as shit that she let you suck air, let her know that it was cool as shit that she encouraged all - OK, maybe only a few - of your half-brained schemes at finding your identity.
And if she can't get down with this song, then you two seriously need to reevaluate your relationship.
Long and short of it? This record is the best record in the world and anybody who tells me otherwise is just plain goddamned wrong.
I'm also kind of drunk right now because I've had to write this post in installments on a busted laptop.
You know what? Fuck you. Some kind soul has put the whole thing on YouTube. Consider your next forty five minutes are accounted for, you damnable twat.
Feel it.
Next time on "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band)...
Either M. Martin will pick up some slack or 2008's Life... The Best Game in Town

01 July, 2013

It's a Butt Week conspiracy!

So, for some reason, I went about Googling "Butt Week" and what I find is that there's another Butt Week, apparently it has a campaign to go along with it, started by a woman named Natalia Reagan inspired by an idea from Stephen Colbert in July 2011. You know, one year after I conjured up the idea of Butt Week all on my goddamned lonesome. Don't believe me? Click that link to see where I officially declared the last week of June / first week of July as Butt Week on 2 July 2010, then check out Stephen Colbert rallying his "nation" to call for NBC to inaugurate a Butt Week on 21 July 2011, three hundred eighty four days after I had the idea.
Now, there's certainly no reason that there can't be two Butt Weeks but I want some recognition, so I'm going to officially declare that Sound Design and Assembly's Butt Week henceforth be known as Sound Design and Assembly's Original Butt Week or Butt Week, the Sound Design and Assembly Original, or maybe just even Original Butt Week, The Butt Week, The Original and Best Butt Week, the Original Week of Butts Brought to You by Sound Design and Assembly or maybe Butt Week, Not That Bullshit Version that Stephen Fucking Colbert Ripped Off from Me That Someone Else Took to Promote Colon Cancer Awareness. Or how about no? How about I just keep calling my Butt Week "Butt Week" and make everybody else fuck off and they change their goddamned name? How about that, huh? I came up with Butt Week, I'm keeping Butt Week, and I'm celebrating the only Butt Week I know. The Butt Week that I started, the Butt Week that I gave you, the Butt Week where we sit around and talk about butts and enjoy the delicious coincidence that had "Baby Got Back" come on the radio after midnight on Sunday morning, practically kicking off Butt Week for me. The Butt Week where we're happy about asses of all kinds here in the hallowed halls of SD&A. The kind of Butt Week where everybody's looking for anal sex because fuck it - no, literally fuck it - it's Butt Week, goddamnit, our Butt Week.
Seacrest out.

30 June, 2013

It's Butt Week!

You know how we do: The last week of June / first week of July, to celebrate our transition from the first half of the year to the second - and believe me, with six inches of snow in May, this has been a wonky first half of the year, still feels like Spring - we talk about butts. Some people build idols to ancient fertility gods, some people participate in Old World themed festivals, some people waste a good deal of food and throw tomatoes at each other...

Fuck every last person in Barcelona. Seriously. Fuck 'em.
... we here at SD&A, however, just talk about butts. Butts that wiggle, butts that jiggle, bouncing quarters off of butts, playing grab ass, getting a piece of ass, just talking about butts.
Why? Because there is no human body part as equally and simultaneously sexy and doofy as the butt. Think about it: Somebody has a nice ass, don't you take a gander? Don't you appreciate it? Don't you also momentarily forget that right in the middle of the thing is a hairy little hole that smells like shit? See? It's things like that that make me want to celebrate butts for a week. And what better way to kick off Butt Week than with song? Because of course there's a band called Charlies and of course they named their record Buttocks.

I am just the luckiest man on the planet.

29 June, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 3: The Pleaser

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 1997's The Pleaser
Written by Charlie Pauken
Put the speakers in the windows and string up the Xmas lights around the patio, kids, and then after that, stock the kegerator, because this is The fucking Pleaser, probably the most daunting record Harvey Milk made at this point precisely because it's a straight forward, no frills rock and roll record. Who's that band that has that song "Party Rock Anthem"? Yeah, fuck those guys, The Pleaser is chock full of party rock anthems. Fast paced, four on the floor beats mixed with a little southern boogie-woogie and power chords.
I've heard some interesting rumors about this record. One being that the band wrote all of the songs that appear on it because they were asked to open for Melvins. Knowing that there were some clods out there that would write off Harvey Milk as a Melvins clone because both bands play slow, Harvey Milk decided that they were going to concoct a batch of songs that were the exact opposite of Melvins. The other rumor I hear about this record is that each song is supposed to be an homage to classic 70s rock and metal, so one song is supposed to be in imitation of KISS, one song is supposed to be in imitation of Lynyrd Skynyrd, then one for AC/DC and one for Ram Jam and one for Thin Lizzy and so on. But these are just the rumors I've heard.
Not that this really has anything to do with the review, I just thought they were little fun facts (well, fun rumors) that I wanted to get out of the way.
This record doesn't take forever to get started, there are no sound collages, the tape machine is not Harvey Milk's blank canvas to go all Jackson Pollack on. No. "Down" starts with a plain old fashioned kick in the nuts, you know, the kind that takes seven seconds to register pain in your abdomen. It's the kind of rock that you don't hear anymore (because I'm old enough to tell you that all of a sudden), the kind of rock that old issues of Rolling Stone would called "southern-fried" and, yeah, there are hints of Skynyrd in this, but it's as though Harvey Milk managed to find an element of Skynyrd that I might actually like and exploit the hell out of it. And, shit, there's a dual guitar solo. A dual guitar solo. They're on some Thin Lizzy shit with this record.
Speaking of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott would be splooshing his leather pants if he were alive today to hear Stephen Tanner's bass work on "Get It Up & Get It On", another up tempo one that will have you wondering how selections from The Pleaser (and The Glasspack's Powderkeg) were left off the Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack. I mean -
What?
Yeah, Dukes of Hazzard. The one with Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott.
Whatever, fuck you, dude. That movie was fucking awesome and so was the fucking soundtrack.
You know what? You do this every time you come here. I make a pop culture reference and you give me that snobby fucking haute culture look like I'm that one cousin you don't talk to at the family reunion because I drive an El Camino with a bitchin' cassette deck and you drive a fucking Beamer with an iPod dock. I think it's time you either just stopped coming her altogether or learn to accept the less-than-high-brow tendencies around here but, either way, just let me get back to the goddamned record review.
Prick.
So, great. We missed the rest of "Get It Up & Get It On" because I had to stop to address your concerns. But I guess it's worth noting that if you weren't down with the track listing for the above-linked soundtrack, you're not going to be into The Pleaser.
Getting back to the damned song, though, "Get It Up & Get It On" is definitely a showcase for Tanner's bass playing. I might have said that this was a straight forward record, but it also exemplifies the musical prowess of the band. After two records of solid, mind-bending weirdness and pained dirges, they break out such an up-beat, party friendly record that you'd hardly recognize them, but they don't for a minute treat this record as a chance to relax and just play something in the style of old favorites that they grew up on, no, there's a fantastic level of musicianship on this record - you know, because this is a trio of fantastic musicians - and if anybody thought they were good because they played so slow that they could take their time to think about the next note, they'd be smacked senseless by the chameleon's trick they pull on The Pleaser.
OK, I'm pretty sure that whole paragraph made no sense. Moving on.
"Shame". What can I say about "Shame"? Well, for starters, if you walk into an Atlanta titty bar and this isn't in the DJ's collection of go-tos, than you might want to have a word with the management about the guy. This song is the sight of a lithe woman with legs that go up to her shoulders through a cloud of cigarette smoke and, brother, can she work that pole. She might have 80s weathercaster hair but it detracts not from the Cirque du Soleil level of skill she exhibits on that stage.
As the song progresses, the layers of guitars increase, playing the main riff - as much as I hate the word "riff", that's what's on this record: riffs - at different intervals, giving the guitars an almost synthesizer feel, à la that old school 70s hard rock I keep mentioning. And the reason it sounds so good is not because Harvey Milk did their homework, they lived through that era, which dictates the authenticity of the record.
"Red as the Day is Long" is the first Harvey Milk song I ever heard, years ago listening to Pandora Radio while playing flash games on the Adult Swim website and getting tanked on night shift after I first started working at the hostel. This one holds a special place in my heart because it was not only my introduction to the band but because it was so godawfully weird sounding and catchy at the same time. And to this day, I don't know the goddamned words. I think Creston is singing "Lay me down and feel my prayer" but I know that's wrong and I don't care. I'll sing those words. Why not? It's the fourth song on the record and the slowest moment so far, with little twinges of jangly country rock thrown into the mix of bent-noted dirge that evoke images of a stoned Waylon Jennings as the song carries on its relaxed waltz.
Things pick up again for "Misery", with the equivalent of a goddamned NASA missile-launch for a fleeting intro and then it's on to a verse that makes it impossible to not tap your foot in time to between those missile launches. I'm even having trouble writing this right now because I can't stop bobbing my head. And aint it weird that the two strip-club worthy songs on this record are named "Shame" and "Misery"? Seriously, some southern reader please inform me as to whether or not these songs are present in the strip clubs down there? Because they ought to be.
"U.S. Force" is as unstoppable as the chorus announces that U.S. Force is, whatever U.S. Force happens to be: "U.S.! Force! (Force!) We're unstoppable! No remorse!" Take that as you will, I like to think it's a cheeky little stab at blind nationalism and bullshit foreign policy. But we're here to discuss the music and I'm not a political science major. Shit, I'm a step and a half away from a green card marriage to the first Canadian woman that would entertain the notion (hint hint, ladies).
"What I Want" is a total horn-thrower with a to-die-for start-stop earworm for a chorus; this is the one that gets stuck in your head, with big big chords and drumming that makes drumming look easy. The drums are, on the surface, pretty basic until you actually pay attention to them and hear all the little nuances and syncopation going on underneath the basic beat. I'm pretty sure this was Paul Trudeau's next to last outing with Harvey Milk, and the sessions for The Pleaser must have lost him thirty pounds through sweat alone.
"Lay My Head Down". Jesus Christ, "Lay My Head Down", this is the fuck track on this record, a blues number in the traditions of Muddy Waters and Screamin' Jay Hawkins (real blues aficionados are hereby called upon to correct me) that is so sparse and dryly recorded that you can hear Creston's fingers on the fretboard that eventually builds to a section of loud pained ascent and a solo that just makes you jealous that you can't play guitar that well. And then it comes back down into that slow, smokey blues worthy of a place on your fuck-jams mixtape. This is the kind of baby-making music you put between "Dazed and Confused" and "Dondante".
You know what comes next? "Rock & Roll Party Tonite", the title of which basically sums up this record. "We're having a rock & roll party tonight! I don't care what you've been told, party tonight! It's too late to be too old, party tonight! Because we're having a rock and roll party tonight!" And the best part about this KISS homage? That the word "party" is screamed by all three band members à la "TV Party". Equal parts hard rock and punk with a little ironic "fuck you" thrown in.
And then we close out with "Anthem", which opens with a bass and drum intro that would be welcome on any Unsane record and a chorus that is simply the word "Alright!" over and over again. You don't get too much more party worthy than that: "Alright!"
This record is fun as hell and you are a lesser person for not having heard it, your parties have suffered for not having played it. So you kind of need to get on it if you haven't done that yet. Just want to let you know, though, this is the only Harvey Milk record that sounds like this.
Next time on "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band)...
Either part two of 2004's The Kelly Sessions by M. Martin or 2006's Special Wishes

22 June, 2013

The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band), Episode 2: Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men

A Sound Design and Assembly Original Miniseries
Produced by M. Martin
Tonight: 1996's Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men
Written by Charlie Pauken
Question: What begins with a low ominous piano chord and some accelerating tinkling then just changes gears into a high-pitched bee-sting guitar note and snare drum that sound simultaneously and speed up (that eventually inform Shellac's brilliant "End of Radio") to come to the sound of a blue whale dropped from a hundred miles up into the oceanic pole of inaccessibility? Harvey Milk's second full length, the double album, Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men.
This was the first full Harvey Milk record I ever heard and jeeze Louise, Doc, it killed Einstein.
By the time Creston actually gets around to his birth-of-a-monster howl, six minutes and six seconds have passed. They're playing with pitch, they're playing with silence, they're playing with tempo... "Pinnochio's Example" is already a big damned brain fuck of a song, and then it changes up again with soft, battered whisper-sung lyrics about crafting Pinnochio from Geppetto's perspective over quietly strummed guitar, bass, and table-saw whirring in the background. This is the first ten and a half minutes of this record.
And then, ever so seamlessly, Spiers and Tanner easily bring us into "Brown Water" with delicate and gentle interplay before the whole band brings the heavy back. Few things are as epic as the things Harvey Milk manage to pull off, and "Brown Water", while admittedly samey and even a bit overwrought in its seemingly never-ending crescendos, plays to the band's talent for sweeping grandiosity: It's a straightforward arena rock lighter-flicker. Most bands would close their records with this one, Harvey Milk are just closing out side A. There are still three more sides to this fucking thing.
"Plastic Eggs" is just everything you've ever wanted in the sound of stoned evil. Electric Wizard wish they wrote "Plastic Eggs", OK? It's like that. But it's by the time we get to "Plastic Eggs" that the realization begins to set in that the diversity, humor, emotion, and sex that appeared on '94's My Love... may be just playing navigator in the passenger seat. So those elements are still up front, they're still guiding the way, but it's definitely the stoner element in the driver's seat here. And, brother, that cloud of dope smoke is thick; you may as well be inside the bong by the time you hear the opening dirge of "My Broken Heart Will Never Mend", a carefully timed, unsyncopated, right on the damned quarter note piece of heavy metal music that alternates between lumbering bullying and more grandiose, ascending, just-on-the-tip-of-"Space Oddity"-era-Mick Ronson guitar soloing that starts big and mean, becomes something utterly beautiful, and, for the briefest of moments, becomes its own lullaby before getting back into the big crashing business and the beautiful solos. Really, this is a song chock full of juxtapositions that in the hands of less competent bands (read: any other band) would be considered contradictions.
Have you been keeping score? Because we just went through four songs and we closed out sides A and B. Now we're on side C with "I Feel Miserable", an absolutely beautiful piece of dual guitar strumming that is so plaintive and calming that you'd have to wonder why it's called what it is. The warts and all production on this number, with audible amplifier buzz and hum, do not diminish the simple elegance of the work here. It's as if that little navigator in the passenger seat we talked about earlier is making more concrete decisions in terms of where to steer this record. Especially when we get to "The Lord's Prayer", which is simply Creston singing in that battered whisper of his over a simple piano arrangement. By this point, it's easy to suss out why these numbers weren't intermingled with the heavier songs: They are so quiet and understated that to sandwich them between all the previous heaviness would've made them sound out of place rather than showcased. They needed a stage of their own. And you'd think this theme would continue with "Sunshine (No Sun) Into the Sun", judging by that song's intro, but no. It's a brief intro of almost Donovan-esque acoustic guitar before the band get back into that towering Juggernaut business, the musical equivalent of the killing machine at the end of Caligula.
The better part of "Sunshine (No Sun) Into the Sun" is the sound of fucking dread. It's the worst, most paranoid acid trip you've ever had squared. And, at the same time, it's almost a little comical: You can hear the bass notes bending and sliding as though they were manipulated by tape machine's varispeed control and you'd think the guitar was down-tuned beyond belief with how much you can hear the strings slap around on the fretboard. And there's enough tape experimentation on this between the overdubbed guitar solos and flourishes of Mission of Burma tape sounds cutting in and out of the mix that save this song from being simply a scary animal and make it something genuinely appealing. One of Harvey Milk's finer moments? Well... No. But if they had just played this song straight, it would hardly be any fun. And it certainly wouldn't be smart.
"Go Back to France". Fuck, what can I say about "Go Back to France"? If you don't love the multiple drum kits on "Go Back to France" and all the whacked out Björk-via-music-concrete tape experiments, you are clearly not my age and you did not have a crush on Dina from Salute Your Shorts... Or the short version: I can't say for certain that you're human. You're probably the kind of twat that has a Whitney Houston best-of in your cassette collection next to the Phil Collins best-of cassette. You probably have the musical sensibility of someone whose never picked up an instrument and considers Poison to be the pinnacle of eighties music. Thus, I can't talk to you.
"A Good Thing Gone" starts off as another big slab of stoner metal before a brief sampling of an answering machine tape and then there's some church organ and then there's a vocal solo before getting back to business. It's as weird and beautiful and heavy as anything else Harvey Milk do, but on a record of this length, it's almost tiring at this point. But when we get to "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong", a Leonard Cohen inspired piece for acoustic guitar and voice, [EDIT, 2 July, 2013: Yes, it's a Leonard Cohen inspired piece, because it's a Leonard Cohen song.] we have a strong ballad that brings the listener in closer and enjoy the truly intimate feel that would be heard later on the bootleg of Creston's appearance at the Caledonia Lounge in Athens, GA, performing mostly Leonard Cohen songs (whom, I believe, he said was his favorite songwriter).
And that's where we encounter the issue with the double LP: It's a work out to get through one. You need to have nothing to do but sit around with a six-pack if you really want to pay attention to it. And it gets worse when you have to review it and really pay attention to it. Fuck, man, if I ever try to review The Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, I think I'll be ready to be put out to pasture. I mean, you can hate how I write when I review records all you want, you try to sit here an analyze (with a light and jovial tone full of vulgarity) a double LP sometime. All of it. Song by song. Even though I like this record, I still want a Vicodin right now. Just the mild one, 5mg hydrocodone, 500mg acetominophen.
"The Boy with Bosoms" closes things out and, damn, if I aint ready for this thing to close out. Again, I like this record but I'm ready to go the fuck outside. "The Boy with Bosoms" is another one in the Harvey Milk canon that juxtaposes heaviness and gentle passages but it's also an interesting entry into their canon for the fact that these elements are now blended more fully with each other rather than simply going heavy-gentle-heavy. As the tumult occurs, there is gentle singing and organ sounding. (Heh, I said "organ sounding".) (Was that joke too obscure?) I dare say that for where Harvey Milk were at this stage in their evolution, this is perhaps the most fully realized of their works. They would go on to ditch a lot of the showcased special instrumentation later on but they would remain fully weird, the kind of band Hunter S. Thompson would have probably hated but also appreciated. They ran counter to convention more than any band they were compared to. They were smart and only got smarter, and played as simply as they played complicated. They were at times as simple as the Modern Lovers and other times had more layers to their songs than The Downward Spiral. They gave not a fuck about whether people liked them and even doubted that people did but still aimed to put out the best things on wax that they'd always wanted to hear but never got out of their favorites. "The Boy with Bosoms", for this era of Harvey Milk is the ultimate expression of those conflicts as it melds them together - the heavy, the gentle, the weird, the sexy, the pained, the beautiful, the apathy, the doubt... OK, so I'm getting lofty in my praise again but, really, this song is the last of a particular era of Harvey Milk. They would go on to record The Pleaser after this; a collection of uptempo arena rock songs they concocted because they were going to tour with Melvins and did not want to be compared to the guys who were making weirdo sludge metal a decade before them that they so erroneously got compared to.
OK. OK. OK. Fuck you. Fuck you, I'll say it: Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men is the new White Album. Tell me I'm wrong, I'll shrug. When I ask for a genre redefining record as far as experimental stoner metal goes, what are you going to point me to? Some pussy-assed bullshit like Rated R? Motherfucker, I have a copy of Rated R. "Nicotine valium vicodin marijuana ecstasy and alcohol", right, got it. What the fuck ever, guy. "Ooh, Josh Homme cribbed a line from a Björk song!" Get the fuck out of here with that. It's fluff. (And I say that as a guy who likes that record.) Who sampled Gustav Holt on their first goddamned record? And not because they could but because they had to because that was the only way the song worked? No. No. You want a real goddamned time? You want something that actual inspires you? You want something to move you to fucking tears? Something that will change your life for the better? Something that feels as good as the first time you heard Ramones or Television or Nirvana (I said it) or Led Zeppelin I or the opening notes of "Black Sabbath" or when David Yow went "Ho!" at the beginning of "Boilermaker" or when you throw the horns and scream along when Lemmy sings, "That's the way I like it, baby, I don't want to live forever!" or those beautiful stunted tom-tom beats at the beginning of "Ether" (my brother Joe knows what I'm talking about)? You do yourself right and march your sexy ass to the record store and you pick up a goddamned Harvey Milk record.
Hallelujah, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?

Next time on "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (The Band)...
Either part two of 1996's Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men by M. Martin or 1997's The Pleaser
Stay tuned...
 
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