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The Sound of the Crowd

Words of wisdom from the king of skin

Words of wisdom from the king of skin

Roger Ebert eulogizes Russ Meyer.

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The Sound of the Crowd

This seems vaguely important

This seems vaguely important

You know how many people John Ashcroft has detained in the name of “anti-terrorism?”

5,000.

You know how many convictions have resulted?

Go on, guess before clicking below. It’ll be fun. Trust me.

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The Sound of the Crowd

The bad-boy syndrome writ large

The bad-boy syndrome writ large

Ok, you know how some women always want men who are absolutely no good for them? Sure you do. We’ve all seen it from one perspective or another. Whether you know, are or have been one of those girls, or whether you’re the “good guy” (tender, loving, no tattoos) eating your heart out, you’ve seen it.

The good-time party boy without two wits to rub together, who thinks nothing of farting in a woman’s face or describing her as “the lump in my bed” always has a girlfriend, and eventually a wife. Same goes for the broody incipient rapist from Stanley Kowalski to Spike.

Only rarely does this unfortunate phenomena have a chance to endanger the whole country, and by extension, the world.

Women are edging towards Bush, the Christian Science Monitor says.

A big box of your favorite crispy popcorn treat to anyone who can give me a convincing reason why. And don’t tell me you don’t have a favorite crispy popcorn treat.

The CSM says it’s because he makes them feel “secure” and quotes a GOP pollster saying they feel he’s a man of conviction. To which I can only say: Really?

Are women that stupid?

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The Sound of the Crowd

It’d Almost Be Worth Bush Winning

It’d Almost Be Worth Bush Winning

Just to have this presidential campaign over and done with. But horseshoes and hand grenades, as they say. Meanwhile, Josh Marshall has some good thoughts on The Last Days.

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The Sound of the Crowd

Read the news, I can’t believe my eyes

Read the news, I can’t believe my eyes

These two stories, though they’re only indirectly related, inform and reflect upon each other, in my view.

1. Tapped on “the blinkered perspective afflicting all-too-many of our nation’s political reporters.”

2. Bush’s speech to the UN isn’t playing in Europe, according to this round-up of international newspapers in the New York Times.

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Music Reviews

Flesh Eaters

Flesh Eaters

No Questions Asked

Atavistic

One of the first-wave of 70’s Los Angeles punk bands, Flesh Eaters occupied the middle ground between artistic and boundary shattering bands such as X (and on the East Coast, Patti Smith, Richard Hell and Television) and the criminal thuggery of confrontational bands such as The Germs and Black Flag. As such, Flesh Eaters were the perfect distillation of what was occurring in LA in the late-seventies, combining the ferocity, the passion, the poetry and the latent violence. Chris Desjardins — really the only Flesh Eater among an ever changing cast of supporting musicians, including Stan Ridgeway, Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Joey Ramirez — channeled not only the boredom and frustration that was the fuel of punk, but recast it in an idiom drawn from the Catholicism of LA’s Spanish heritage and coupled it with dense imagery, replete with a horror and slasher film themes.

On this reissue, the original Flesh Eaters’ release, No Questions Asked , is here in its entirety, along with a host of tracks from compilations, an early 7-inch and unreleased demos. While most of the tracks revel in a tinny sound so characteristic of late-seventies punk records, there are occasional flashes of brilliance that transcend these under-produced tracks: the gallows humor that infuses the dub influenced “Cry Baby Killer,” the spoken word, quasi-Nick Cave “Kiss On My Cheek” and the murkily produced title track. Certainly, this record will appeal to those already familiar with the band, as well as brave listeners ready to face the onslaught of a young and unpolished band. For those raised on prepackaged punk, with its overproduced sheen and facile lyrics, Flesh Eaters may be a bit much.

Atavistic: www.atavistic.com

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Music Reviews

Jeff Kelly

Jeff Kelly

For the Swan in the Hallway

Hidden Agenda

Jeff Kelly may be just a little too highfalutin for his own good. On his latest solo effort, the leader of the Seattle indie band Green Pajamas offers three songs inspired by opera, one inspired by a Helen Humphries novel and one inspired by, um, a lock of Emily Bronte’s hair. What keeps the record from becoming a pretentious cultural education class however are Kelly’s love of ’60’s psychedelia and slightly cheesy keyboard sounds and a plaintive voice that occasionally recalls John Lennon, Ray Davies and Robyn Hitchcock.

When Kelly salutes Debussy’s “Pelleas and Melisande” on the record’s opening track, it’s not with glass-shattering vocals but with jangly guitars and a nice pop hook. The closing track, “A Night At the Opera,” similarly pays homage to opera singer Natalie Dessay with buzzy guitars and bloopy, phasey keyboards. It sounds more like a Cars song with a T-Rex groove than the Queen album with which it shares a title.

Elsewhere, “Ever So Lightly” sounds like an update of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” The Humphries novel-inspired “Afterimage” has a bit of the lilt of Jon Brion’s work, but with a harder, spookier edge. A recent trip across the pond informs several songs here. Kelly sings about a night in a 300-year-old English pub on “The Swan on the Hill.” He nicely evokes the buzz of a London afternoon on “Oxford Street.” And “The Lock,” with its melancholy piano and strings and echo-y drum figure, is about that aforementioned lock of Emily Bronte’s hair in a Yorkshire museum.

Call it psychedelic pop for the Grey Poupon crowd if you will. For the Swan in the Hallway is worth wading through the sophistication to get to the good stuff.

Hidden Agenda: www.hidden-agenda.com

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Music Reviews

Dear Nora

Dear Nora

Mountain Rock

Magic Marker

As its title suggests, Mountain Rock is an earthy affair, much more so than the twee-pop context I’d always envisioned Dear Nora occupying. The living-room, four-tracked feel of the minimal, grainy instruments –usually a single acoustic guitar — and Katy Davidson’s tossed off, yet genuine whisper retain the roots of twee, but reinvent them as sweetly naïve folk. With very few songs actually breaking the two-minute mark, brevity ends up stalling the notions of the concept album Davidson might have had. That said, the melancholic “The Lonesome Border, Pt. 1” and “Hung Up,” the wistful title track and the pleading “Suicide Song” all strut lazily through their brief existences, still blooming to their brightest hue. It might be a short hike, but Mountain Rock is certainly worth the trip.

Magic Marker: www.magicmarkerrecords.com

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Music Reviews

Slow Jets

Slow Jets

Remain in Ether

Morphius Records

Not bad. Three guys, good hooks, interesting lyrics, all the ingredients for a band that may make it to the top. The arrangements are simple enough to catch your ear the first time through but have enough depth to keep you interested and finding nuances with each subsequent listen. Greg Preston plays guitar and sings, with a clear, engaging voice, bringing out the inner existence of songs like “Country Under Canada” and “Move While the Door is Open.” There’s always a drummer, of course, and Marc Berrong keeps up a steady, if yeomanly, beat. Tim Baier wraps up the trio with bass and guitar duties. It’s not for dancing, but rather for philosophizing in a friendly, bohemian atmosphere. These guys have the coffeehouse intellectual look of a really good college town bar band, and with their pleasantly clever lyrics, they should be a part of your record collection, today. I know they are in mine.

Morphius Records: www.morphius.com

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Music Reviews

Dead Rabbit

Dead Rabbit

Sex Crimes

Dead Rabbit Records

White Guy Rappers, ya gotta love ’em. Their skin is white, but inside lurks Shaka Zulu’s heart. Right?

There are pros and cons with this interesting EP. He’s got the misogyny and graphic violence down pat, with the advantage of clearly enunciated upper-class white suburban English. If you’re gonna listen to this stuff, Dead Rabbit makes it clear what exactly is going down. (Does that sound edgy? I’m trying so hard.)

The best song here is “Casa Rebel,” a careful deconstruction of high school bullying and the Columbine-like results. Ignore the bullies? Easy when your not there every day and YOU don’t have to do the ignoring. Mr. Rabbit builds a careful case as to why gunning down the SOBs feels so good, but then resolves the problem by pointing out all those dead preppies will get parks named after them, and Sara McLaughlin will sing at their funerals. Now, is that really revenge?

The other tracks on this six song disc are less interesting, if equally well produced. The violence is more pointless, the story less conclusive, and songs like “Regime Change” and “GhettoBootyCat” re-plow ground previously covered by actual black rappers. It’s solid, but not outstanding. This guy has the details down. He even shows some promise. But he needs to spread out and find topics that showcase his talents. All women, sluts and bitches? Probably not, but in Dead Rabbit’s world, that’s the story. Period.

Ho hum.

Dead Rabbit: www.deadrabbit.com