12 October, 2014

Veinte Nueve.

Veinte Ocho.

17 September, 2014

Veinte siete.

10 September, 2014

Lame-O time.

OK, so Facebook lost this cool post I made and buried it in some hidden history folder. So, fuck it. I'm putting it here. Because it makes me giggle.

Veinte Seis.

23 July, 2014

16 July, 2014

Recent Love (All Star Game Edition)

Daniel Bonespur, Dead People
Selections from The Clumsy Man and Rehearsing Failure
So here’s an experiment.
Usually, I and the rest of the SD&A crew (absent as they are), review rock, rap, alt-country type stuff. I think the only time I may have ever reviewed a musical soundtrack was maybe when I was gushing over West Side Story or something. (Fuck you, West Side Story is a jam and a half for your ass.) So I’m not immediately familiar with the wider world of musical theater, even though dating Georgie for three years was a good primer and I saw things like Sweeney Todd, Sunday In the Park With George, Into the Woods, etc. But I’ve never had to dissect or analyze or otherwise simply critique a musical soundtrack. Ever. I’m not familiar enough with the genre or form to feel like I can give adequate remarks about the material in front of me and I feel like I may do the material a disservice by:
  1. Approaching it as I would a rock record.
  2. Having not seen either the shows the songs here are intended for, as my commentary would be devoid of context.
So, I open the CD - yeah, I got a physical product to review this time around and, for real, it’s actually some pretty cool packaging - and I check the little card inside.
Voice… Bass… Violin… Bassoon… Piano…
No drums.
No drums.
First key indicator that this is not going to be a big shambling scary rock monster record that I’m accustomed to. But, hey, I don’t know that. I mean, look at the list of instruments there. Those instruments can do pretty much anything. And look at some bands that made some powerful records without the use of conventional “rock” instruments. Throbbing Gristle comes to mind, and they were just using, like, oscillators. Suicide pretty much informed half of Springsteen’s Nebraska - OK, so really just “Frankie Teardrop” informed “State Trooper” - and all Suicide was was one guy on a farfisa organ and another guy howling sheer madness.
And this is called Dead People. So shit could still get crazy.
“Wind in Your Veins” starts off as a gentle piano waltz with vocal accompaniment. “I’m always at home when it rains” is a pretty killer line leading up to the chorus where the vocalist, an unlisted male tenor who I’m going to guess is not the Tara listed in the credits, belts out a pretty powerful vibrato so loud I had to turn the fucking thing down for a minute. That’s not a bad thing at all. I just wasn’t expecting homie to blow my ears out. And I’m going to level with you, I detect a bit of a John Barry knick in the section immediately following the second chorus. (And that’s OK because we all know that John Barry used that riff twice himself between You Only Live Twice and Midnight Cowboy. If anybody knicked John Barry, he did it to himself first.) Also? “Lay my head on a spike and I sleep through the night” is the best line Trent Reznor never thought up.
“That’s My Way (Baal Song)”… Where the fuck did that guitar come from? There’s no guitar listed in the credits. Well, OK, homie. Your record, your credits. Maybe those are just the credits for one of the shows and the soundtrack here is different.
Enough griping about that. When I first saw this song title, this was the song I wanted to hear, because - and you’ll pardon me if I don’t have my copy of The Satanic Bible near me, it’s in the closet in one of those four beer crates I call my library - I’m pretty sure Baal is one of the infernal names.
“That’s my Way (Baal Song)” starts off as a slow, somber country number, invoking the spaghetti western image of an unnamed stranger on horseback under blazing sun.
And then things get lewd. I mean, right in the first verse, aforementioned unnamed tenor is talking about fucking in a barn. By the second verse, we’re talking about S&M and cunnilingus. But the vocal melody against the sparse guitar and bass arrangement gives it such a creepy atmosphere that there’s no way anybody’s getting turned on by this. And when the violin comes in, playing a sort of Klezmer or gypsy solo, I’m pretty sure that somebody’s about to get hammer-murdered. Thankfully, our unnamed tenor decides he’d rather pull a Sinatra and use the third verse to say, “See ya, baby,” when his paramour is still raring to go and he’s all, “Yeah, I’m kind of done with this.”
Still, I thought somebody was going to get hammer-murdered. This would be a fitting soundtrack for a hammer-murder.
“Woods Suite No. 3”… You know we’re on a classical tip when we have suites and numbers.
Wait. Where are the woodwinds? This has that guitar again. OK, so I listen to the whole thing. There’s no mention of woods in the lyrics.
OK, so “Woods Suite No. 3” is only a tad melancholy, it’s light and breezy, with more sparse guitar arrangement and with minimal lyrics - there’re only four lines to the whole thing, none of which are repeated - that strike me as vaguely Alighierian, even though the River Styx and the City of Dis are not properly named. It sounds like it could be a segue piece in one of the shows for its short duration.
And not to sound like an insult, but I could hear this in a mumblecore or Zooey Deschanel movie and not think it out of place. Hell, it’s a bajillion times better than the standard-issue soundtracks those movies employ, you know, where everything has to have a ukulele and a xylophone and whistling and some bird-voiced woman cooing because that’s what Arrested Development and half the cinematic output of the Duplass brothers had. “Woods Suite No. 3” has just as much whimsy while not being sappy or generic like that shit.
“The First Time I Smelled Ham”? I’m going to confess to you that I did not hold a lot of hope for this one based on the title. I mean, Rage Against the Machine could call a song that because we’d all know that Zach de la Rocha would be hating cops again. Public Enemy could call a song that because we’d all know that Chuck D would be really hating the cops again. Flava would come in and tell you about 911 being a joke during the bridge and then Chuck D would come back in and tick down a list of police corruptions that happen daily.
Daniel Bonespur, however, isn’t bringing up the cops. If anything, “The First Time I Smelled Ham” seems to be a bit more of a Dadaist (a word I use far too much lately) (hell, I’ve probably been misusing it) aside. It begins with a three-part vocal against an echo-laden percussive track, with a whole-note chant in the background while our unnamed tenor and the listed Tara sing the refrain basically at each other, one panned to each speaker. And then there comes this kick drum seemingly out of sync with the rest of the percussion and a big synth drone that leads into a synth-only refrain of “Wind in Your Veins”. And then it’s over. Just like that. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher but, hey, not everything in life is supposed to make sense for your convenient compartmentalization.
“Death for Bonnie & Clyde” is a guitar & two-voice arrangement, this time a ballad that, when the violins come in, sounds like it would fit in nicely in either a Ken Burns documentary or, say, as the music played over the theater PA before a midnight screening of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Perhaps out of all the songs on Dead People, this is the one that is best suited for presentation without context. It’s pretty much between “That’s My Way (Baal Song)” and “Death for Bonnie & Clyde” for my favorite songs off this record.
And then we come to “Body’s What I Want”, which closes out Dead People and clocks in at nearly four minutes, forty seconds. From the sound of this one, from the tone of the lyrics - “The time it takes is all it takes away” - I’m going to go ahead and assume that this is a show closer, the song that resolves all those plot points that we don’t know because we weren’t at the show to see the parts that are the book.
You see, in musical theater, the book is all the stuff that isn’t the music or lyrics. I think. I don’t date a musical geek anymore.
Anyway, out of everything on this record, which I’ve liked so far, the only thing I have a quibble with is the chorus to this song - “It’s your body that I want and I want it without any clothes on.” It’s not by any means a bad line it’s just that pairing that line with gentle guitar balladeering is a little cheesy. Like chest-hair-on-the-record-cover cheesy. If you’re going to break out a line like that, you better break out your R&B influences. I mean, you’ve got to have a bit of brass or strings, you’ve got to have some wah-guitar, you’ve got to have that deep, low bass, and, ferfucksake, you can’t sing that line in a delicate tenor voice, no matter how nice your voice may be, no. You’ve got to fucking belt out a line like that, get a little growl in your voice, like this…
[smooth bass line, minimalist wah guitar echoing low in the mix] “Bay-BEH!” [brass hit cues the soaring string arrangement] “It’s yo’ BAH-DEH!” [double brass hit accompanied by two big guitar wahs] “It’s yo’ bah-deh that ah wont!” [string arrangement ceases ascension and begins a descent until it plateaus in a comfortable place in the key] “OOOhhh, that ah wont that ah wont that ah wont!” [brass and wah guitar hit again] “And ah’m telling’ you!” [brief ascension of the string arrangement that immediately returns to descent] “WWWAAAHHHOOOAAAHHH ah’m telling’ you!” [rapid ascension of the strings] “That ah wont it!” [brass and wah hit] “AAAooohhh, yes, ah wont it!” [strings come to their final, highest pitch in the arrangement] “Ah wont it without any clothes on!” [strings immediately cut out of the mix, arrangement returns to a quite, sultry groove for the verse section]
Granted, my version takes a little longer to deliver that line but I, you know, I can get behind that. Color me vanilla for sticking with the traditional delivery of sexuality in music but that’s the formula that’s worked since time immemorial for lyrics of that nature.
Other than that one little quibble, I have to say that Dead People is pretty solid. Give it a listen.

Veinte Cuatro.

09 July, 2014

02 July, 2014

Recent Love (World Cup Edition)

So, I know it’s been a while since I sat down and wrote an actual record review and now that’s it’s World Cup season, I’m sure the majority of you could give two tosses less about reading this. All I can say is that I left the goddamned bar sixteen minutes into Belgium vs. USA for this, so y’all’d better… Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t really give a shit about the World Cup. We all know Detroit won’t… No, that’s baseball. We all know Canada won’t… No, that’s, I think, everything else.
Anyway, Phratry records has just put out a new double seven inch with four bands, one band at two songs per side; Aperiodic, Mala In Se, Joe 4 (and you know I dig me some Joe 4), and Knife the Symphony. Let’s have ourselves a listen.
Aperiodic’s “Scene Crush” kicks off the festivities with a synth-heavy throb. That kind of goes on for six and a half minutes. Now, that’s not a bad thing by any means, I’m just not having much of an emotional response to it but I’m not going to sit here and just slag off actually reviewing it.
“Scene Crush” sounds like a couple guys in a basement working out ideas during a rainy afternoon over a case of beer, the kind of thing every band does during those brainstorming jam sessions, just spit-balling ideas and seeing what sticks. And while this is a good batch of ideas, I’m not feeling the drums until the 3:50 mark, where they take on a jazzy approach and the electronics really start glitching out. This is definitely music you chill out to with a joint and a light show if you have a light show handy. Your one friend’s girlfriend? You know her? The white girl with the dreadlocks? Yeah, her. Yeah, she’s the one that will start dancing to this and you know how white girls with dreadlocks dance. It’s that dance with the Bob Dole thumbs and the hair flails. Don’t worry though. If you’re listening to this song right, you’re probably really high and that’s OK.
“Something That Satisfies” I like a lot more. There’s a lot more aggression, it’s less jammy. It feels more deliberate than the previous song. Your friend’s girlfriend? Yeah, her again. Yeah, she aint digging this one so much. The record store clerk down the block, though? Yeah, the one guy you know with a Six Finger Satellite t-shirt. He’s into this but that’s because he’s probably only listening to the surface of it. Dig beyond the distorted synths and drunken math-drumming and what you’re hearing is the stoned swagger of old-school Doors. “Something That Satisfies” is your soundtrack to a lysergic sex romp in a literal hay stack. You can zone out to this or you can make horrible mistakes at sushi bars to this song.
Seriously, “Something That Satisfies”, man. You need to get on this song before the end of summer.
On to side 1B.
Mala In Se’s “Crowd of Dead Grandparents”… OK… How to be constructive? Let me try by reminding folks that I am just not into bass virtuosos. Never have been. Like Primus? Not into them. Rush? Not happening. So anything I’m not liking about the ascending twiddly-dee bass line that opens up “Crowd of Dead Grandparents” is my fault. I mean, Mala In Se’s bassist is good enough to do that. I’m not good enough to do that. So props to him or her for being able to pull that off. It takes skill, years of tutelage at the instrument to pull that off. And y’all know I’m not one of those assholes that says an instrument has to be played one way or the other. But the tweedy-dees are enough to almost turn me away. For real. That’s how not into the tweedy-dees I am. But I stick with the song beyond the tweedy-dees and I’m glad I do because you know all the good parts of all the pg. 99 songs? Mala In Se must have listened to all of them and asked themselves, “Are these, collectively, a fucking joke?” because “Crowd of Dead Grandparents” is already better than all of that one pg. 99 CD I have somewhere that I stole off of Angie as asshole tax when we broke up. And, even better, there’s way less of that shrieky-post-hardcore-guy thing going on.
“Cats” starts out as one of the better unapologetic fist-pumpers I’ve heard in a while and reminds me a lot of what was happening in the western Lake Erie scene about ten years ago, which is not a bad thing. It has its big, urgent fist-pumping moments and its instrumental cigarette breaks, more informed by metal than by punk and I can get down with that. The guitar in the intro sounds a bit reminiscent of Bauhaus or back when the Cult were called Death Cult and played goth rock but then shit goes all Kylesa. All of this is good.
Side 2A.
The Joe 4 side.
The “Oh, shit, son, your ears are about to get an ass-whooping,” side.
“S.A.L.E.” makes me immediately want to punch the shit out of something. Like, this is my walk up music when I go up to bat for the Tigers. Everybody on the Twins be like, “Oh, shit, it’s that guy! Move it back out to the warning track!” Fuck it, I’ll go a step further: Everybody on them bitch-ass Athletics, playing .622 ball like they’re hot shit, be afraid of old Charlie coming up to bat. Fuck, even Cabrera be all, “Charlie, how do you do that?” And I tell him, “Miggy? The secret to clubbing a man with a baseball bat is you take out the ump first because the catcher is in a weaker, crouching position, you take him out second. And then, after that, you bum rush the pitcher.”
Wait. Where was I going with that? That’s got to be the worst baseball analogy ever. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.
“S.A.L.E.” That’s what I’m talking about. Well, the first thing I notice is that that doesn’t sound like Lu singing. What happened to Lu? Is Lu not there anymore? Did they add somebody? What happened? Why does that not sound like Lu?
I mean, I’m not saying it’s not good but where’s Lu? I don’t know if I can take this.
OK, Lu’s back on “Sui Generis”. That sounds like Lu. Everything is right with the universe.
“Sui Generis” brings us more of the grisly fuck-you-ups that I love Joe 4 for.
Now, I could go off on one of my tangents about how good Joe 4 are but you already know that if I see Joe 4’s name on something that I consider that worth the price of admission alone. Trust me on this: If you see Joe 4’s name on something, buy it. Just fucking buy it. You’ll like it.
OK, Side 2B.
Knife the Symphony. All I ever hear is good things about Knife the Symphony and it’s my bad for sleeping on them this long.
“Room & Pillar” starts out all storm and hurricane and it takes only those eleven seconds to convince me that I need to see this band ASAP. I detect a bit of Zach de la Rocha in the vocals, you know when Zach gets pissier than he normally is and starts hollering at the top of his lungs? Yeah, like that. Now imagine that happening with that kind of punk I like where the bass carries the melody and the guitar just fills in these swathes of harmonic information while the drums sound like the guy or gal playing them is Dave Grohling the shit out of everything. (And say what you want about how lame and arena rocky the Foos have gotten over the years, Grohl is still my generation’s Ginger Baker getting butt-fucked by Gene Krupa behind Peart’s drum kit.) “Room & Pillar” is the sound of hoards of conquistadors landing on your shore. This, I like. Why have I slept on this band for this long? It’s like I’m fucking stupid or something.
“Suit Up, Sleep It Off” is a fine piece that reminds me of Holy Sockets but wwaayy heavier. If you like your indie heavy or your heavy indie, “Suit Up, Sleep It Off” may be your new summer jam and that’s for this summer and next summer. Motherfuckers coming over to your house and you’re playing this and they’ll be all, “What’s this?” and you’ll be all, “Knife the Symphony” and they’ll be all like, “Oh, cool,” and then you’ll put the speakers in the window and sit out on the lawn and knock back Vicodins and Mickey’s while nodding your heads and occasionally doing the metal scowl. Ladies and joims, this is your pre-game music. Listen to this before going out for a night on your town with your friends and everything will be alright. “Suit Up, Sleep It Off” is how your morning-after blog post begins.
So, over all? I think the only miss for me is Aperiodic’s opener but we’ve been over that; you can still get into it but I think that for my tastes that it will take some more time. There’s a tweedy-dee bass moment that I’m not digging but that’s the fault of my own prejudices, I guess. Whoever is singing that first Joe 4 song is either not Lu or Lu doing something different but I still like it. Overall, Phratry’s new double seven inch is going to be your new summer jam.
Now, if only there were a link to it somewhere.

Veinte Dos.

25 June, 2014

18 June, 2014

17 June, 2014

I got a mention on Yelp! Sort of...

Here's a review for the Black Forest Inn, my watering hole. Surely you'll note that I'm not "the hot guy" or "the drop dead foxy beefcake piece of ass in a Lil Bub shirt". No. I'm this fucking guy.

11 June, 2014

04 June, 2014

28 May, 2014

21 May, 2014

14 May, 2014


Sorry for the tiny text again. Click to enlarge.
Even though it so isn't worth it.

07 May, 2014

30 April, 2014

23 April, 2014

16 April, 2014

13 April, 2014

Charlie Meets the New Neighbor from Across the Hall

A Play in One Act by C. Pauken

The Author, as Himself, a thirty three year old part time liquor store clerk
The Neighbor, as Herself, an attractive twenty something collegiate

Int, Night. Friday, about eleven pm. A stairwell between the second and third floor. The Author is going upstairs, having come inside from smoking a cigarette, the Neighbor is clattering downstairs. The two meet halfway.

"Are you drunk right now?"

[shrugs] "I'm getting there."

[giggles and whispers] "I can get there faster."

"What's that?"

[giggles again] "I said I can get there faster!"


[giggles] "You're making me uncomfortable."

The Neighbor then turns and continues her descent down the stairs in a quick and hasty manner. The Author is confused.


09 April, 2014

02 April, 2014

26 March, 2014

19 March, 2014

Seriously? This is what people are looking for to find SD&A?

"Assy Chinese pussy"? I didn't even know there was such a thing as assy pussy, let alone specifically that of the Chinese variety.


18 March, 2014

Recent Love (Not What I Was Expecting Edition)

Battlerat, S/T
OK, so first question: Is this the fucking Doors?
Alright, I know that sounds harsh but as much as it sounds like a backhanded compliment, it’s a straight forward compliment. You see, my history with the Doors is a long and troubled o- Fuck it, short version: I hated the fucking Doors until about somewhere in the window of three to six years ago. Now, for some reason, I think they’re probably one of the weirdest rock bands to exist; they incorporated elements of jazz, blues, bossa nova, meringue, psychedelia, country, polka, and then their singer was an oversexed junkie who read too much goddamned French poetry. That should not have been a rock band. That was a terribly misguided “world music” band. (“World music” being a terrifically terrible misnomer for a collection of musics that basically is limited to Baliwood soundtracks, West-African high life, and anything vaguely gypsyish or flirting with Klezmer music. Believe me, if this were the appropriate venue, I would go on an extended digression wherein I would lay out my whole “thing” about “world music” but I think I’m supposed to be reviewing a record.
And I should also close the parentheses.)
In fact, I’m pretty sure that last part didn’t need to be parenthetical but fuck it, man, it’s too late now and I’m going to write this up with a couple tallboys of Hamm’s and no delete key. To quote Papa Bear O’Reilly, fuck it. We’ll do it live.
So I get this email in my inbox, and it’s from a band called Battlerat.
I don’t know about you but when I see the name Battlerat, I’m expecting some skuzzy garage-metal from a couple nineteen year old stoners who met in welding class at the community college, playing single pickup Epiphones through Boss DS-1s into Peavey combos with beer can sweat rings staining the top of the tolex. Oh, and the drums are supposed to sound like shit. You remember how it was back then. The drums always sounded like shit, man. That was part of the appeal.
ANYhoo, I open the email thinking, “Alright, this thing is called Battlerat, I’m down.”
And then I read the body of the email and I think, “Fuck.”
Because - honesty time - the Battlerat I had just loved for point zero four seconds had changed, the relationship was different. I felt my trust had been dashed. This was Battlerat!? “… Celeste Heule, a multi-instrumentalist who writes her songs on piano, accordion, and saw”? Where’s Kyle, the guitarist with the two-day growth beard on guitar? Where’s Mikey, the guitarist they made play bass? Where’s Ed, the guy who can’t play drums but is only forty percent of why the drums sound like shit?
Fuck, man. This sounded like it was going to be world music. Who would dare hurt me like I was their personal karma chameleon?
“Ian Stenlund played guitar on tracks 1 & 9.”
Ian Rhombus, that’s who.
OK, so I trust Ian’s judgment.
But still, I was looking forward to a cover of “Spiral Architect”.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of my system, I go ahead and listen to the record. And, yes, my first reaction is, “Is this the fucking Doors?”
Why? Because it’s not “world music” nor is it straight forward rock music. It’s in that weird limbo between the two, instantly full bodied and dark but with plenty of nuance that helps set it apart from being a Doors rip-off and enough subtle sexuality (not a The Office reference) to associate it with one of rock’s greatest acts. That and I don’t know anything about Celeste, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume she’s not a junkie.
So the record starts with “Deep Sea”, which establishes itself as a very forward, heavy bit of music without ever relying on getting mean or nasty or doing anything else most other bands do to be heavy. If anything, “Deep Sea” plays with a sense of dread the way a little kid plays with a toy: It keeps a death grip on it. “Deep Sea” is a two minute, twenty five second study in dread and paranoia and suspicion. And, believe me, I’m doing everything I can to not make a True Detective reference right now. Short version, if “Deep Sea” were a country, suspicion would be its currency.
By contrast, “The Slowest Song” takes me a moment to find the appeal because I instantly want to be a shithead and ask, “Is this the fucking Dresden Dolls?” But, you know, I take that moment, I give it a few listens, and realize I’m being disgenerous in that statement, frankly because, I mean let’s just check the fucking scoreboard: 1) Ms. Heule can actually sing, 2) whatever she’s singing about does not sound like ninth grade notebook bullshit, and 3) the arrangement for “The Slowest Song” blows just about the entire Dresden Dolls catalog out of the water. I’d also be willing to bet that Ms. Heule doesn’t pay her musicians in hugs. Sane people don’t do shit like that. Still, this song takes me a moment to get into on first listen.
OK, “Test the Water”? I initially ask, “Is this fucking Hall & Oates?” And I’m not trying to make a running joke, I mean I really hear strains of Hall & Oates. And when I say I hear strains of Hall & Oates, I mean “Private Eyes” or whatever that song is called because that’s the only song I know by them and when I say “Private Eyes” I mean I vaguely recall there being a song that sounded like this and I think it was “Private Eyes”. I don’t know, man, you know I don’t listen to Hall & Oates.
But to get to the point, “Test the Water” belongs in a burlesque club, preferably in a southern state, you know, where it’s ninety degrees and ninety percent humidity in December and there’s nothing to do but sweat and swat mosquitoes. That’s what this song sounds like: Just total muggy heat where everybody is half naked for health reasons.
I am not going to make the “Is this fucking [blank]?” joke with “Try To Be Good”. First because I already made that joke three times and second because nothing comes to mind. But “Try To Be Good” is definitely the kind of song you want to hear when you’re hungover and you have to get your shit together before another night of revelry. And “But let’s remember the moon is watching…” is probably one of the prettiest lyrics I’ve heard three and a half months into this year. How come nobody writes lyrics like that anymore? How come Celeste Heule is the only one doing this? Christ, everybody listen to this record and take some goddamned notes. Really.
“Eggshell” starts and I’m all, “Is this fucking Nine Inch Nails?” and that’s before the electronic noises come in. It’s also the first song on the record, to my ears, to feature the bowed saw more prominently.
“A Hold”? Fuck you with “A Hold”. Jesus wept, she made drone / doom metal with accordion. Holy fuck, I’m going to hammer-murder somebody to this. This, this song. Fuck you. Fuck you, man, fuck you. Your band is not as good as this one song. I’m serious, I’m going to hammer-murder somebody because I finally found the soundtrack to that. I mean, we all knew that I was just waiting for the hammer-murder soundtrack before I hammer-murdered somebody. And then I’m going to make a body suit out of their goddamned skin, that’s what “A Hold” is.
This song, I want this song to be, I don’t know, at least ninety minutes longer. Just to outdo “Dopesmoker”.
Oh, shit! You know who would get their rocks off to this? Mikey from Pink City. Mike, you reading this? You need to hear this song.
(Having said that, I gush about mclusky and Mike’s all “meh” about them so I don’t know about his tastes.) (Actually, I do know about his tastes. Motherfucker isn’t into Pyromania, which means he’s pretty much wrong about everything.)
ANYhoo, I would like to officially request that Battlerat open and close their show at the 331 on 19 April with “A Hold”. Yes, I’m requesting in a public forum that a band play the same song twice. I promise to leave my hammers (yes, I own multiple hammers) at home.
I do not, however, promise to not throw the fucking horns.
This song is the best thing to happen to my life since Liz Lemon froyo.
Fuck all y’all. I need to hear this song a few more times, then we’ll get back to biscuits.
OK, next song…
“Sandfeathers”? Do I have to do the joke again? Because I really don’t want to. It’s good. I mean, it’s not “A Hold” good but, I mean, I rreeaallllyy like that song. Like I need a breather. And “Sandfeathers” is kind of that breather, I guess. I like the fuzz bass. Not a lot of people do the fuzz bass anymore. And you know, you could be the kind of dick that says some minimally educated bullshit about Ben Folds Five when you hear this drums / piano / fuzz bass arrangement and you’d be, admittedly, partly right but, arrangement wise, “Sandfeathers” is closer to Radiohead than Ben Folds Five, and even then, only close. The vocal arrangement owes more to old school Motown and Phil Spector records than anything English.
“I Did Not Wake Up” is probably the closest thing to contemporary indie rock a la the Current that this record approaches. It’s sparse and uptempo in all of the best British ways. Enough so that I want to draw comparisons to Gang of Four, my beloved Gang of Four, but honesty brings me back to the first (read: good) Franz Ferdinand record. Still, this song is enough to convince me that Ms. Heule has studied her English post-punk (and I have a diatribe on the word “post-punk” too but now is not the time or place). And, let’s just point out the elephant in the room: The snare roll at the end? That is so “Magnificent Seven” by the Clash.
For those of you keeping score at home: We’ve got a woman who makes some creepy ass doom metal on accordion and clearly listens to English punk in my presence. That means that I have to mind my goddamned manners.
I should probably stop cussing, too, but fuck it.
“Chalklines” is, uh… Is “jaunty” the word I’m looking for? I think I want to say “jaunty”. I’m kind of stuck with what I think of “Chalklines”. I like it, I just find myself unable to articulate what it is that I like about it. And, really, it’s not the go-to song on this record but it’s also not a throw-away. It’s like “Lounge Act” in that it’ll probably be the one song that nobody but the hardcore fans will talk about in ten years. It’s compositionally solid, it’s compelling, intriguing, even. But it’s one of those songs that’s just kind of, “What?”
“Dumb & Lonely” closes the record on a somber, almost-Queen note and solidifies Ms. Heule’s exhibition of talent on the record. She plays piano better than you, writes better songs than you, and sings better than you. “Dumb & Lonely”, if played in an arena, is the one where people are breaking out the lighters. It’s really kind of up there with Harvey Milk’s “The Anvil Will Fall”, I think, as that’s the only time I ever broke out my lighter at a rock concert.
So, overall? No. No, I would not check out this record unless somebody told me to. “So, wait, it’s piano, accordion, and musical saw? Nah, man. I aint trying to hear that.” Well, maybe that’s going a bit far. I mean, I like to think my tastes are varied, I’d like to think that I’d give this record a chance. But it’s like this - and please don’t think this aside has anything to do with Battlerat: I once heard this song on the radio and I, having never heard Bruno Mars and sure that I never wanted to, asked my friend, “Is this fucking Bruno Mars?” and she said it wasn’t and asked me if I wanted to hear some Bruno Mars. I caved into my prejudice and said that I was fine with never hearing Bruno Mars. Now, that she tortured me for the next six or seven seconds with Bruno Mars is not important, aside from the emotional trauma, the important part is that I’m a prejudiced person who gets a brief description of something and immediately decides that he doesn’t need it as a frame of reference.
So I read that Battlerat is going to be some piano / accordion bullshit and I figured that I’m going to suffer through this review. In all honesty, I’ve not found one thing on this record that I haven’t liked. There are things that I’ve had to work myself into, sure, and those things coexist with some “holy shit” moments. But the listening has been an exercise in me getting the fuck over myself and opening my mind a little more. And now here’s another record that I like and that I think you should like too.
Anyway, I know I’m requesting 19 April off from work.
And I’m leaving my hammers at home.

12 March, 2014

05 March, 2014

26 February, 2014

19 February, 2014

This is apparently what people are looking up that brings them here.


Recent Love (So I Guess I'm Into Them, Now Edition)

Kitty Rhombus, Spectre At The Feast
The last time I reviewed a Kitty Rhombus record, I think I basically intimated that this band does not make that I would actively seek out, and there’s a fairly good chance that I put it way more condescending / dickish. But, hey, Ian was OK with that and now Mr. Rhombus has submitted his band’s new record for a review, which finds me here, eating some coleslaw from the BBQ joint around the corner with the hot Jewish cougar bartender that I’d be all like “shalom, girl”, listening to the album opener, “4 O’Clock”, and digging the fuck out of it. I mean, it’s still nothing that I would actively sought out if I weren’t hipped to it, it’s still not my thing, it’s still weird and abstract in the ways that I’m not into, but there’s something to this album opener - some of the absolute storms of distortion that say mclusky and the angular modulations that say Jesus Lizard, those bands being two of my favorites and I get to use angular because that’s a ten dollar word that music reviewers use and (hint) none of them knows what it means and I figure that I’ve been doing this long enough, you know, passing judgment on the creative works of others, that it was high time that I got my pretentious Christgau on and said some dumb bullshit like “angular” when discussing a beloved and iconic Chicago punk band. The point, anyhow, is that I don’t remember Lips and Arms to be this heavy. So, let’s see if Spectre At The Feast continues to hold my attention.
I won’t lie. “Metacarpal”. Holy shit. I could fuck to this. Well, maybe not, but it’s close to fucktoable. As it starts out 70s NY art-rock / first-wave punk influenced, on a slow burn like a cigarette smoked in the driver’s seat with the window down leaving the scene, it builds up to all sorts of heavy that a lot of the “big name” acts in metal have forgotten how to pull off lately. And for a minute, I’m all, “Are Kitty Rhombus trying to be my new favorite metal band?” so now I have to proceed with caution because I remember that the last record I was all, “Uhh…” about. I’m not going to get my hopes up.
OK, so, “The Lie”… Let me eat some humble pie. I can’t fuck to this but I bet some strippers could work the fuck out of a pole to it. It’s fine and spacey with echo-drenched guitars and grooves along in an almost “Bridge of Sighs” way, employing the art of loud-quiet-loud that’s gone out of vogue the past couple years or so and really did need to come back… Goddamn, I sound pretentious. I should say angular again as soon as I think it’s applicable. ANYhoo, “The Lie”, “The Lie”… If this song is not getting regular rotation at titty bars soon, then either the universe is wrong or Kitty Rhombus are making severe missteps in their marketing strategy.
“Damage”. I’m fifty-fifty on this one.
“OR”? OK, well, remember that one time I told you all about the opening to Klute? Don’t act like you don’t fucking remember, it starred Jane Fonda as a submissive prostitute and Donald Sutherland as a near-mute detective; I forget what year but it was probably somewhere around the time Sutherland did M*A*S*H and who the fuck remembers when Fonda did Barbarella? if I were online I’d look it up but I’m not so… Anyway, it was super dark and creepy. If you get a minute, watch Klute. Then come back and tell me that “OR” couldn’t have worked just as well for the opening sequence. For real, this sounds like something that belongs either in the opening for that flick or something that was unforgivably left off of Naked City’s Absinthe.
“Gentle Shotgun”? Well, hey, “Gentle Shotgun” could replace “Damage”. Any way, this is another fine slab of punk rock with enough weirdo angles to separate it from the bins of stale bullshit you’d find at the Sam Goody. I have the notion that nobody in Kitty Rhombus owns a black ballcap or has back-of-hand tats. You can stream this song with this link.
“Circles”? Yeah. It kind of goes in them. But at least the acoustic guitar work on this is more captivating than “Cemetery Gates”. Well, a lot of things are more captivating than a lot of Megadeth’s oeuvre but hey.
“Universal Error” completely fails to grip me.
“Bite” starts off promising and pretty much sucks me back in. I mean, it was a little touch and go there for a minute. We had a big, strong start, then we had the chillax moment, then we had the iffy moment, then we had the creepy moment, then we had the “oh, we’re doing this again” moment, then we had a meh moment, then we had a really meh moment, and now we’re back at where we started. A bunch of heavy no fucking around.
So am I won over? Well, it’s like this: If you took the first three songs and the last song, you’d have a four song EP I’d probably be raving about, and the thing is that there’s more than just those songs that I like on this record; for what it’s worth, there’re one or two things on here that I’m just meh on but don’t outright hate. I’m just not down with those one or two things.
I will say that it’s a heavier record than what I was expecting out of the band considering my last exposure to them and I like this one a lot more. You can like them a lot more too when they come to the Hexagon on 1 March 2014.

12 February, 2014


Sorry about the tiny text. Click to enlarge.

05 February, 2014

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