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Music Reviews

Jah Wobble

Jah Wobble

A Very British Coup

Cadiz Music

Even the devil has sold his soul…

In a week that saw the spineless, corrupt US Senate conclude their sham “trial” of impeached President Trump and the UK tossing aside their neighbors with Brexit, it’s fitting that this rousing protest anthem gets released in America. A Very British Coup finds Jah Wobble with his former PiL bandmates – drummer Richard Dudanski and guitarist Keith Levene along with vocals from The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart with their take on Brexit (although it’s never actually mentioned in the song).

Produced by Youth (Martin Glover), the track reminds you of the glory days – early Clash and PiL’s Second Edition era, with Wobble’s elastic bass percolating in and out of the mix, playing off Levene’s spiky stabs of guitar. This American release features four versions of the song – including “Dogma”, a radio edit, and “Youth Dub”, found only on this CD.

Brexit and the impeachment of Trump share a common theme, namely, that the “powers that be” rule by lies – or as Stewart yelps, What they didn’t want us to know/Down in the sewers, and they go to great lengths to avoid speaking about it. In the US the Senators rejected evidence and witnesses to rush to a forgone conclusion, smirking all the while. In Britain the underlying push to exit the EU was vile nativism and xenophobia, dressed up in purely economic terms, with buses painted with cheery exclamations of all the money that Brexit would return to Britain. It was, of course, like Trump’s defense, a complete and utter lie, mouthed by timid, fearful demagogues.

Perhaps this call to arms will help to stiffen the spines of American voters, who, in November, will vote on the future of our great American experiment. Do we confirm the virtues of what makes America singular and exceptional, or do we give up and let the bastards in expensive suits sell our dreams for their year-end bonuses. Hyperbole? Maybe. Think back three years and tell me I’m exaggerating.

Even the devil has sold his soul…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWebH2xEli0

Categories
Music Reviews

Hollie Cook

Hollie Cook

Vessel of Love

Merge

I really wanted to like Vessel of Love by Hollie Cook. It’s a bit like wanting to like your friend’s kid’s band. You check them out and you want them to be good. In Hollie Cook’s case, her Dad is Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols and her Mom, Jeni was a singer with the Culture Club. She was also a member of the reformed Slits, so she has that going for her too. There are some cool guests on the record, including Jah Wobble and Keith Levine from Public Image Limited. So why can’t I work up much enthusiasm for this record?

Vessel of Love isn’t a bad record. The album is chock full of easy skanking, rock steady tunes. The albums overall tone is trippy, dreamy, dubbed out and otherworldly as exemplified on “Lunar Addiction” and the title track. “Stay Alive” has a good hook and a message that resonates with our times. It’s written as a break up song, but I’m reading a bit of #Neveragain into the chorus, “trying to stay alive.”

So, if Vessel of Love has nice songs, what’s my problem? I’m not a fan of the way the producer, Youth, over-processes Hollie’s voice. Here and there, you can hear her voice without being drenched in echo and effects and it’s very nice. On most of the record, Hollie’s voice is multi-tracked, processed and filtered to the point that she sounds like an alien chorus. I think I’d like the record better if I was hearing a less manipulated version of Hollie Cook.

www.mergerecords.com

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Music Reviews

Wild Cub

Wild Cub

Youth

Ah, Youth! This is vintage youth, a young band with a promising sound, clean arrangements, and the versatility to sound like an indie pop love song band on “Shapeless” but slide into a darker club beat on “Straight No Turns.” The main engine here is singer-songwriter Keegan DeWitt. He’s been floating around the Nashville scene long enough to get a good reputation but not so long people say “Oh, is he still around?” The other half of the band is Jeremy Bullock, and together they offer a fresh-faced vocal sound and crispy electronic compositions, and the album Youth even offers an emotional arc. We start happy, get dancey, and then by “The Water” we start questioning the meaning of life and whether we should even stick around for it. “Hidden in the Night” offers some prog rock guitar solos and a Phil Collins echo on vocals, and we are in the depths of depression but begin to re-surface, then we exit the dark patch, and it’s back to happy land by “Wild Light.”

So, there IS purpose in life, and Wild Cub seems versatile enough to tackle any aspect of our existence, no matter how extreme the emotion. This is a promising new band. I see a solid career ahead for them.

Wild Cub: wildcubmusic.com

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Music Reviews

Killing Joke

Killing Joke

Absolute Dissent

Spinefarm/Universal

At the point about halfway through watching the evening news, when you’re lying fetal on the couch and clutching a pillow as if for dear life, empathy receptors shorting out with endless images of oil spills, Middle Eastern quagmires, fake economies collapsing, beady-eyed tea parties, and polar bears grimly surveying their non-existent future, you can take one comforting thought with you: when things get really REALLY bad, a new Killing Joke album is bound to be around the corner. And, right on schedule, here is Absolute Dissent, the fourteenth album from the UK underground’s very own wild-eyed Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In fact, this is the first studio album with the original lineup (shamanic bassist Youth rejoining the fold after Paul Raven’s untimely passing) in 28 fucking years, and this is very much a rejuvenated Killing Joke, with much of the metalistic torpor of the last couple of albums burnt away in a crucible of disgust and paranoia. This is a goddamn impressive album, every note put down with absolute conviction and urgency, as if they realize this might be their last chance for expression (and conversion) before… what? The classic Killing Joke template is unchanged, just refined — tribal, unhinged percussion courtesy of Big Paul Ferguson, Youth’s liquid dub bass meltdowns, Geordie Walker’s still seminal “shards of glass” guitar lines, and Coleman’s Jim Jones-esque performance as the centerpiece with a voice that veers from Lemmy-aping feral roar, to an oddly beautiful choirboy lilt.

And as good (and it is very fucking good) as the music is, half of the fun of Killing Joke is the batshit insane stunts they pull. I’m talking about vocalist Jaz Coleman (also a classical composer and radical ecologist), Youth, and Geordie Walker fleeing to Iceland to wait out the apocalypse when they became convinced that 1982 was the end times. I’m talking about bribing the Egyptian Minister of Culture to let them record an album in the Great Pyramid. I’m talking about releasing a one-track album that was basically just a long spoken essay on demonology and the imminent coming of the Elder Gods. But the music was always grounded in reality. The epic sweep, the rush of blood to the head, the fragile core of humanity that makes Absolute Dissent sound so urgent and vital makes one furtively wish that in some alternate reality, Killing Joke rode the success of (dancefloor hit) “Love Like Blood” all the way to U2-level stature. Could you imagine Jaz Coleman and not Bono meeting the Pope and hanging out with President Obama? What could have been.

Killing Joke: www.killingjoke.com

Categories
Screen Reviews

Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain

Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain

directed by Mitch McCabe

Cinema Libre Studio /HBO Documentary Films

Something’s gonna get you. We’re all bound for death, and the best we can do is hold out as long as possible and have some fun along the way. But some people fight back, kicking and screaming over every wrinkle, every birthday divisible by 5, and constantly longing for how they looked five years ago when they were just as freaked about that particular birthday. There’s a huge industry set up to exploit these men and women — Botox and face lifts and boob jobs and $400 jars of Crisco claiming to “reprogram your DNA.” What does all this technology accomplish? It gives us a society that looks like Barbara Walters on a hibachi and plastic surgeons who own small islands like Manhattan. In this “Made For HBO” documentary, McCabe traces her childhood as the daughter of a respected plastic surgeon. Daddy survived Vietnam and learned the bloody trade of giving war heroes new faces after the VC blew them off. He headed for Detroit and raised a family, did his job well, and died in a car accident that no one could have prevented. McCabe worries over her first wrinkle at 13 and now at 38 she explores her father’s photo gallery of patients and asks a few dozen Americans, “What are you doing to stay young? Why are you doing it? Did it work?”

The answers cover the Lipofront. A Texas woman gets her boobs enhanced, her face remapped and her wardrobe purged as she seeks approval from hubby. Self-centered Dr. Norman remakes himself as a Jack Nicholson lookalike and finds a career in rap videos. A buff Hispanic man who lost his looks at 30 bursts into tears at the prospect of not leaving a good looking corpse. Interviews with surgeons and journalists are even more disturbing. Product formulator Les Riley, of a company called Obagi, doubletalks his way through the sort of pseudo-science that fills beauty magazines while Dr. Frederick Brant claims (truthfully) to be the largest buyer of Botox in the world. Beauty writer Paula Begoun debunks the claims, but no one listens to her; she’s not promising the age-obsessed what they want, and what if, just maybe, this next operation or tube of gook will make them gorgeous? Self-esteem is in short supply, and credit cards can go a long way to buying a temporary delay. It’s a sad, sad life these people live.

McCabe presents these stories in a flat, no-opinion manner, which makes the storytelling more poignant. Dr. Norman insults her on camera, pointing out, “She’s let herself go” and “People who don’t make themselves look good annoy me.” She reaches no on-camera conclusion, but it’s clear the search is what’s important, and no one demands a refund when any product fails. The only really useful advice comes from Simon Noonan, Creative Director of a luxury chain of department stores, who says, “If you’re 80 and want to become a smack addict, do it. What better time to try something new?” It’s cheaper and will make you feel better for just as long.

There’s a special features disc, but it’s principally a short “Making Of” and a long series of outtakes from the interviews which reinforce what you see on the main disc. The patients appear as genuinely nice people even if they are obsessed with themselves and their looks. The doctors and suppliers seem gleefully predatory, particularly the sellers of fancy “Cosmeceuticals.” There’s even a visit to a cryogenic storage vault for corpses (or “patients” as they prefer to call them). That’s the most exotic question of all: who’s going to pay for thawing out cranky old people with ugly DNA and a zombie complexion? Somewhere in this documentary I head this line: “Some people need five years of therapy; others just need a boob job.” Both are equally effective.

Make Me Young: www.youthknowsnopain.com

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Features

School Is For Fools

School is For Fools

Over the years, in the pages/ether of Ink 19, I’ve had a regular “go” at education in the US of A. I’ve identified the problems and provided solutions. Well, now it’s time for me to come out of the reflection and admit I’ve been wrong.

Frankly, there will always be students who persevere and work their way out of the worst of the public schools. Likewise, there will always be the children of the rich who go to the best private schools and snag the best jobs, that is, in the event they actually have to “work.”

And it doesn’t matter one rat’s ass hair what they’re taught, what they’ve learned, and what they’re prepared to do. They are not the future. They are their own future and I really don’t give a rat’s ass hair what their future is.

I do, however, give plenty of rat’s ass hairs about my future and “those damned kids” had better not get in my way. I’m not concerned about competition for work, not a bit. I’m just as good, if not better (certainly a lot faster) at what I do than the bowel movements graduated from the higher academic rest rooms of this country. I chalk that up to lots of free time spent playing video games and listening to punk rock. Besides, these kids don’t want to work, so they will stay out of my way. And I certainly won’t forget how easy they are to manipulate…

But enough about me.

Let’s talk about the kids of tomorrow.

First of all, the kids right now are downright dangerous. I think it’s in the best interest of me, and the rest of the sane, reasonable, sensible, careful adults out there, to address this problem…

Today’s schoolyard bully is tomorrow’s death row inmate or, at best, a career criminal. I don’t care about him, though medication might help (from what I understand, several grains of lead administered cranially does wonders), the bullies only make their victims stronger, thus they serve a vital purpose. The kids who shoot up their schools, rarer than hen’s teeth they may be, also serve a vital purpose: weeding out the herd.

I rank the Dylan and Erics of the world up there with motorcycles being sold to sixteen year olds and heroin addiction being a status symbol. Let’s put it this way: I don’t want to be the schmuck who’s driving on the other side of the road when Igor, helmetless and traveling twice the speed limit, crosses the yellow line and addresses my windshield. I also don’t want Siglunde, over there, to burn down my apartment because she stupidly left a million candles lit in her apartment and went to sleep. I also don’t want Manfred, with his fresh tattoos and oozing piercings, touching my food.

Thusly, I am advocating a program for preventing such: Protecting Against Violence With Violence. In the first place, violent children, that would be the ones who “started it,” are to be put to death, along with their teachers, immediately. Why the teacher? Well, she knew the kid was trouble and didn’t do anything about it, tough beans. This will have a value-added effect of opening jobs for more teachers. For those children who’ve not been summarily executed by the local school board’s “auditors,” there will be regular, daily field trips to automobile accidents. Won’t that promote a desire to see gore? Oh, I forgot, you wire the kids up to an electronic “sensitivity device” prior to getting off the bus. To discourage a life of crime, field trips to Arab countries will be fully state subsidized, so that the kids may witness justice for thieves. There might be an added bonus of those children who “just don’t get the message” to participate• Boy that came in “handy.” Children who don’t show a desire to observe hygienic habits that have, as a matter of fact, made this the greatest nation on earth, will have a chance to visit various equatorial countries after floods and other natural disasters, in order to learn survival techniques, those surviving will be shot on sight.

For the kids who see the light at the beginning, there will be lessons in the values of looking both ways before you cross the street, the importance of speaking clearly and concisely, the value of other common courtesies, and of course, the rewards of being a good citizen, most notably, the privilege of pulling the trigger on their less apt peers — chaperoned, of course.

I think that should about do it.

What about drugs in school? What about sex, AIDS, and teen pregnancy? Well, there’s not many more rat’s ass hairs out there, so I’m not giving any. I’d wager that 99% of the kids in school today have parents who did or do drugs, and by gosh, they hold down jobs and pay taxes, so who cares? If some moron ODs and dies, well, I think I hit at the benefits in the above paragraphs. AIDS? Ditto. Besides, I’d wager that 99% of the kids in school today have parents who boinked their way through school and life, and by gosh, they hold down jobs and pay taxes. Unwed teen mothers? Like I care? (Why do you care?) I bet there’s even some kids in school, whose parents listened to punk rock and heavy metal music, and by gosh, even they hold down jobs and pay taxes. Some can even afford cars!

Categories
Features

Listen You Little Punk

Listen You Little Punk

As the saying (liberated, like so much else, by the polyester queen Hillary) goes, it takes a village to raise a child. So, with this notion in mind, I want to perform a brief act of child rearing in the form of exploding a few myths that our youth of today seem to hold. None of these notions are new to today’s kids, but the facts bear repeating.

First off, you are owed nothing. Nada, zero, zip. Not a meal, not an education, not health care, nothing. If your — or your parents’ — income status does not afford you a car, a Rio player, or a new Eddie Bauer sweater, then either get a job and buy it, or shut up. Just because you were born doesn’t mean that my income should pay for your health care, retirement, or give you a grant to rub kaka on a canvas and call it art.

Secondly, there is no divine power that makes every thought that appears in your head worthy of my, or anyone else’s time. For those of you who have been through a public education, getting lessons in self-expression and having your “esteem” raised, please step out onto the cold hard concrete of the real world. Out here, nobody gives a damn about your feelings. Few things are more annoying than a nose-pierced mallrat telling me I shouldn’t eat meat. Bite me, junior.

And just in case your parents are too busy having to work 70 hours a week to buy you those things to which you feel “entitled” and haven’t had the time to explain the concept of personal property, here’s a quick rule of thumb. If you take something you didn’t pay for, and that item has a value, then what you have done is theft. In case this is too abstract for you, here’s a clarification. Downloading the new Deftones CD before it’s released, burning a copy for yourself and your friends with no intention of ever purchasing the real item, is stealing. There is no other factor involved — not the ease of getting the material, nor the wealth of the person who created the music. This probably won’t sink in until the first time some other “entitled” person smashes in your car window and steals your CD player.

But just so nobody will consider me a total grouch, here’s a few other myths to explode. Nobody has a right to force you to pray to a god you don’t acknowledge, to keep you from kissing any other adult who lets you, or live under a government of tyranny. (Which, by the way, you are. Point your web browser somewhere other than the PETA site or Napster and you’ll discover how really ugly things really are). Don’t spend your energy yelling that the world is not fair — most of us already know this. Instead, create your own world, filled with whatever myths, lies, and beliefs you wish. Invite a few special people to experience it with you, and always be delighted at the randomness of the outcome. And never accept in blind faith anything anyone tells you.

Including me.