31 May 2006

Another fucking killer!!

SWEET! So the BurningAngel gig has paid off a bit cuz I got this album from them. Maybe a needle in a haystack, but it was worth suffering through a bunch of worthless crap to find this. These guys will be in the city in a week and a half. Figures I have zero money. C'mon unemployment people, accept my application and send me some dough, please!

Black Cobra - Bestial
At A Loss Recordings
25 April 2006
5 stars

Black Cobra is a 2 man low-end attack in the vein of Big Business only this stuff is more distorted and brutal. Think of BB running headlong into a slightly less-chaotic Pig Destroyer and then smashing the shattered remnants back into one piece. Growly yelled vocals, an avalanche of drums and what I'm guessing is a massively downtuned and bass-heavy guitar. Bestial possesses a fantastic mix of super-sludgy mid-tempo songs and tracks of faster full-on devastation. These guys know how to make the most of the heavy duo setup. There is a definite groove that runs the course of the album and along the journey you'll be privy to both the energetic highs of the blast beat and the meditative stillness of simple guitar passages. While rhythmic ingenuity is in no short supply, melodic variation--however unorthodox, and i tend to like mine that way--can also be found in abundance.

While the music on Bestial is quite stunning, an unfortunate aspect of this package is that the liner notes (at least of the version I've received) are comprised solely of a panel featuring an incredibly large arthropod and an old-timey spelunker. Sure, it's really cool artwork, but no lyrics are included (some are in Spanish, too), so I don't know what I'm being yelled at for; nevertheless I am enjoying the experience. At A Loss Recordings has also released (or is in the process of releasing) work by Baroness, Kylesa and Rwake so Black Cobra are amongst good company and from this album sound like they're perfectly able to stand on their own (four) feet in relation to these heavyweights. As of the time I'm writing this Black Cobra is touring with Torche so keep an eye out.

30 May 2006

Hot Hot Hot Goddam

When these guys came to town on April 28th I was totally blown away. I'll let my review words speak for themselves, instead of writing a dumb preface.

You Will Die - s/t
Hawthorne Street Records
5 stars

"No, we don't want a vocalist." And they don't need one either. You Will Die is an instrumental trio that hails from Indianapolis, not exactly a bastion of heavy music as far as I'm aware (Racebannon being the only other notable Indiana band I can think of at the moment. Sorry, Indiana). Here on their debut these guys have produced a whirlwind of face-smashing rock'n'sludge with plenty of grind-esque shrapnel thrown in to keep you on your toes. While they shouldn't be considered a "tech" band, they do keep their shredding slightly unorthodox and the songs never get stale.
You Will Die reminds me of a more pissed-off Keelhaul--who I love--so this album is a total winner. In their own words they describe their sound as, "The soundtrack to someone's last minute on earth before they headbutt a tablesaw." It works for me. Scoth's (yeah, Scoth) guitar and Jason's bass lines aren't exactly straightforward, but they come at you in a no-bones-about-it-I'm-gonna-kick-your-fool-ass kind of way, which rules. Here you'll find some super-crunchy hardcore riffage over bass that actually moves you as it adds dimension. The drumming on the album is nitro-fueled, gargantuan and downright impeccable. Whereas many great drummers can be boring to watch, (Brann Dailor comes to mind, though no offence intended) Errol is not. These guys have fun while they're playing and what they're playing is fucking fun. Despite the fact that this album is way too short even for my "leave me wanting more" standards, I haven't stopped playing it for the past month. Guys, seriously, give us more.

24 May 2006

Back inaction

So there's been a ton of stuff preventing me from posting this last week, but I'm starting to get back into the flow of things. Here's something good that's been on the burner for too long:

The Heuristic - Parapraxies
Black Box Recordings

Though I must say that the whole tech/math metal thing has overstayed its welcome with me, The Heuristic has put together an enjoyable album that is a novel take on the whole premise. There are actually scientists in the band, so their musical perspective is something that runs much deeper than any trend. Refreshingly intelligent and sincere with just the right proportion of humor, these guys possess what most of their contemporaries lack. I must commend the band for not engaging in pointless wankery just to impress the audience; the parts are well-thought and actually work to create shifting moods. The only band I can possibly think to compare them to are Colorado's The Great Redneck Hope, though The Heuristic possess a more varied repetoire. This is a short album, too, which by any normal standard would be an EP, but these nine songs leave me wanting more, which is always a positive in my book.

(An aside: At first I thought "There's No Square Root of -1 In Team" was just a silly title until it was pointed out to me that the square root of -1 is i. This lack of mathematical prowess probably helps to explain why I enjoy techy/mathy stuff as a sort of novelty, but don't engage in it much. So yeah, there are math references that lose me a bit, but I'm a sucker for their Civil War-related songs. Anyway, check these guys out, it's well worth it.)

15 May 2006

The Greatest Map Ever Made

R. Buckminster Fuller was a genius. Besides developing the geodesic dome, the idea of synergy, and "Bucky Balls" (a super lubricant...yeah, it's okay to laugh), Fuller also produced a stunning two-dimensional map based on tetrahedrons. This map retains a greater amount of proportional accuracy than the projections we're more familiar with and it also does away with the idea of a global "up" or "down." Go check the map out as well as the vast array of other fantasticalness that emanated from his marvelous dome.

Yeah, I had to make that joke. More music stuff in the next couple days.

Update: I stumbled upon this as well, the AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment. It's a map nerd's wet dream. And it's interactive now thanks to the Buckminster Fuller Institute. I'm so uncool it's amazing.

09 May 2006

Happy Birthday to Myself

So a couple of cool things to tell you about on this fine day (which I seem to now be sleeping the middle section of away) upon which I will make up some words. Premierly, Farhydt led me towards Brian Posehn's myspace page. As I stated during the "look yonder," that guy could say, "I drank a glass of water" and I would collapse to the ground in face-contorting, yet comically blissful agony. No I'm not going to give you a link. He's a nerd, he likes (coolish) nerds, so go to the nerdery and nerd him up.
Penultimately, since Mr. Posehn is so ultimate, there is the matter of non-musical art. I'm going to be putting up more links to artist pages so that people can check out good stuff. I met Sam Sethi the other day and her work really impressed me, so go check it out. I have about 486 friends who are great photographers, so excepting people who don't have sites (Allison Cekala, I'm looking at you), I'll put some links up for them soon.
Thirdly, the United States and Iran kissed and made up today and decided that neither of them would further develop nuclear weapons and would instead devote more money to more pressing food and environmental issues. What? I've been sleeping for the past four hours and that was probably a dream? Oh...well, at least there's this:

Deadbird - The Head and the Heart
Codebreaker Records

Deadbird has put together one brilliant album here. This is an intense piece of work that cycles through the deepest pits of human emotion as it elevates to and underscores an astonishing vision of hope. Of the surprising elements that I found interspersed throughout the album was the use of melodic and vocal elements from both late-90s screamo (yeah, as strange as that sounds) as well as black metal that works incredibly well within the doom-y framework that they employ overall. There is a lot of later Neurosis influence and I picked up an Old Man Gloom-esque vibe from some riffs. As a bit of a departure from the musical heaviness there is a gorgeous instrumental passage ("1332") that not only adds even more weight to the album, but displays the band's quality writing and musicianship. If I may expose my old Yankee prejudice, it's basically the last thing I'd have expected to come out of Arkansas. And goddamn if it isn't amazing.

08 May 2006

Foot in Mouth, and Head up, Asshole

10,000 Days

This is the finest restructuring of the everlong process known as Tool.

Hands down.

No questions.

Anyone who knows anything has already succombed to being unable to remove this disc from the player.

I'd love to be diplomatic about this topic, but to be honest, there's very little I'm able to extrapolate. 10,000 Days is an ecstatic breath, a relief, and an extension of every known aspect of the band. This album proves that when you doubt Tool will ever resurface with the vision, the function, and the intensity of your favorite album, all they require is another five years to knock you on your ass right out the gate. The thoughtful progression re-establishes the emotional truths of the specific - remember in jimmy when we were shown an eleven year old in Ohio? This album is eleven tracks of intimate growth, and the forever-flowering....

Get your brain on.
Get your brain on Tool.

Bonus lyric snip from 'The Pot':
When you pissed all over my black kettle,
you must've been so high.

Tell me that's not what you were waiting for, foolish liars.

For the trained ear of the Toolophile, regard close the guitar riffs, and song structures. You will hear countless callbacks to the other albums. Far from being a gravitas of nostalgia, these replays establish an interwoven dynamic bringing their whole body of work even closer to itself.

I'm serious. Tool is back, and they are brilliant, dod gammit.

I was right...

As it turns out, the lakers didn't beat the suns. In fact, Phoenix kicked the crap out of them in a game 7 that was never really close. So, with that, I can now smile knowing that all of my first round picks were correct. Some of the underdogs took a couple more games than I thought they would, but so far I'm batting 1.000
The next thing is picking the 2nd round. I'm gonna stick my neck out on a couple of these, and my rather obvious biases will start to become a little totally blatant. There are two teams currently in the playoffs that I just don't like and will root against at all costs (even if it clouds my judgement and makes me pick against them... which it inevitably will).
Here we go:
#1 Detroit vs. #4 Cleveland
Game one was a thumping, but they won't all be blowouts. Lebron is too good to allow his team to be destroyed every game, but Larry Hughes has to play better, Z has to play well consistently, and the Cavs have got to use their rebounding prowess to get extra shots, because it isn't going to be pretty otherwise. It also wouldn't hurt for the Cavs to play some defense. Their perimeter D was humiliated in Game 1, and the sight of their guards going underneath every screen instead of fighting over them illustrates just how lazy the Cavs can be on defense. People think defense when they think Detroit, but they can really score, and Cleveland cannot give them as many open perimeter looks in game 2. Regardless, Detroit will take this one in 5.

#2 Miami vs. #3 New Jersey
This is one of my biased picks, but I actually think that I might be right on this one. It all depends on which Shaq shows up in the series. If we get the Shaq from Game 6 of the last series who dropped 30 points and 20 ballboards on the Bulls, Miami could do this in 6, but I'm hoping the Nets are smart and drive past Miami's flat-footed perimeter D into the paint and get Shaq in foul trouble. Look for Krstic to pull Shaq away from the basket with his ability to hit the jumper, which will force Shaq to move in and out of the paint (which he doesn't like to do at all) so that he can get a hand in Nenad's face, but also protect the paint when Carter and Jefferson slash. If Dwyane Wade's hip is hurt, the Heat are in real trouble, but the Nets need Kidd's shot to bounce back a bit otherwise the Heat won't even need to guard him. I think it'll go the distance, but I'm pulling for the Nets in 7, even though I think Miami is probably the better game 7 team. Fuck it, I told you I was biased.

#1 San Antonio vs. #4 Dallas
This is going to be a great series, judging by game one, which made me want to throw a brick through my TV (similar to the brick that Stackhouse put up as time expired). I'm biased here too, but I actually like Dallas to win this series for other reasons. Their depth is more impressive to me than San Antonio's, whose procession of AARP members has to crap out sometime. Game one was tight and low scoring, but Dallas ran when they could, and should do so all series long. Dampier and Diop have to try and do a better job on Duncan, but I was a little surprised they went with as much single coverage as they did in Game 1. The big thing is for Terry and Howard to provide some punch in case Nowitzki can't shoulder the load with Bowen all over him. If Van Horn can come back in this series, that'll really help too. Anyway, this one is going the distance. Mavs in seven.

#2 Phoenix vs. #6 LA
This is going to be fun to watch. Two savvy old point guards going head to head, Kaman and Brand punishing Phoenix inside, and the Suns chucking threes and trying to run, while the Clips try to play smart and go through the post. The key here is the Clips are going to take the same sort of approach that the Lakers took in round one, only they are a much better defensive team than the Lakers, and their post players are actually good. As long as LA keeps the tempo down and Radmanovic, Maggette and Livingston play well off the bench, the Clips can win this one in 6.

06 May 2006

Holy Fucking Shit

So while we may say, "YAY" to the resignation of Mr. Porter Goss as head of the CIA, let's not yet get too excited about his replacement. The Bush administration wants to install Gen. Michael V. Hayden in the top post now. "Who is this guy?" you may ask. Well, he's the guy who headed up the domestic surveillance (a French word that the Bushies absolutely adore) program for the NSA. Happy now? Why the fuck aren't we out in the streets about this shit? I know I'm lazy, but seriously, I'll run around screaming about this in public! I already do that anyway!

And yeah, I read the NY Times. It's where I saw this story. I don't care, go fuck yourself.

04 May 2006


So, this is easily the best first round of the NBA playoffs I've seen in a long time, maybe ever. There have been game winning shots, great players playing spectacular basketball, Chris Kaman throwing Reggie Evans to the ground after having his crotch grabbed from behind (on purpose), Raja Bell nearly decapitating Kobe Bryant, and the Clippers actually winning a series. If the Lakers finish off the Suns tonight, as I fully expect them to do, especially with Bell suspended thanks to his guillotine maneuver, then we're set for an all-LA second round which is going to be amazing. All of those games played in the same building, just with a different floor and different fans. There may very well be a riot... which is fun.
My playoff predictions have been mostly right so far, except the Lakers are about to prove me really wrong, and most of the series have been much more competitive than I thought except for the ones that are already over (Dallas-Memphis, a massacre, Detroit-Milwaukee, a little bit of complacency allowed the Bucks one win, and LAC-Denver, where the Nuggets were so unimpressive that I'm surprised they didn't lose every game by thirty.)
The two underdogs I'm rooting for, Sacramento and Chicago, have had some outlandish performances. Bonzi Wells is playing like Charles Barkley and simply butchering Bruce Bowen, making me think about how stupid my defensive player of the year choice was. And for the Bulls Nocioni has been awesome. As Nick Carder might say, "When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie... Nocioni." I'm not sure what that means, but I like it.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the best western conference semis in a long time, featuring Dallas versus San Antonio and LA versus LA. I still think the east is kind of a wash, but at this point, I'm prepared to believe that New Jersey could beat Miami, because the fact that Miami can't beat a tiny little team like the Bulls make me think they're just a bunch of lazy has-beens. New Jersey can take 'em.
One more thing... the fact that ABC can't think of a better promotional song for the NBA playoffs than Tom Petty's "Running Down A Dream" is fucking pathetic. I've probably ranted about this before, but I have to do it again.
1) That song is probably 20 years old... at least with that horrible Rob Thomas song they chose a few years back, they were in the right decade.
2) What the fuck does Tom Petty have to do with basketball?!?!
3) Why not play some fucking rap music? Is is that controversial? I'm not even saying this because it's my favorite music or whatever, I just think it's foolish (and extremely ignorant and cowardly) to deny the obvious fact that hip-hop culture and basketball culture are inextricably linked. In a sport that is 90% black dudes from the ghetto with tons of tattoos and cool shit like that, you can probably stick your neck out and play some fucking hip-hop for god's sake. The league is all about hip-hop, whether the corporate stiffs at ABC, and the corn-fed, whitebread, college basketball pundits like it or not. Basketball is the hip-hop of sports. Period. I know basketball came before hip-hop and all that shit, but basketball is no longer being played by James Naismith with a peach basket and fucking melon (thank god), it's being played, mostly, by young black dudes, who are just like other young people in that they like music and relate to cultures surrounding music... often music that old, white, red-state shitholes think is destroying America. And just like every other example of this situation, those shitholes are just that... shitholes. So fuck them. Play some fucking Biggie or something. Play something relevant, something that can get you psyched up to watch the quintessential urban game played at its highest level. Don't be afraid. It's just black culture, it's not going to ruin anything. If Allen Iverson playing ball on TV hasn't destroyed society, then playing Biggie on network TV isn't going to do it either.
Oh... and fuck Tom Petty. He sucks balls.

02 May 2006

Oooh, piece o' candy!

Okay, yesterday was May Day and I forgot to say anything at all about it. But I have an excuse: it was May Day and I was fully against doing any work whatsoever (except band practice which was quite productive). Anyway, back to the grind...or in this case, not grind at all.

sunnO))) - Black One
Southern Lord Recordings
3 October 2005
4 stars

This stunning album was released months ago and only recently made it to the office for review. At this point sunnO))) is a fairly legendary outfit in their circle, so followers of drone, doom and sludge probably already have this in their library. However, for those who are less familiar with these guys, you'll notice that I did not call sunnO))) a "band." At least they're not in the traditional sense. That is because there really isn't anything traditional about them. What began as a Steve O'Malley/Greg Anderson side project-cum-tribute to Earth (see review here) is now on their sixth - and apparently darkest - release.

As much as I have known about them and heard bits here and there, this is actually my first full descent into the depths. I guess part of sunnO)))'s original intent was to do live projects that would send audience members straight to the can from sheer low-end power. The intent here seems quite different, though it is difficult to gauge from just listening to a cd.
Black One could be more accurately described a soundtrack to an as-yet-unmade horror film. A great listening atmosphere would probably be in a dank basement with a few candles and just your record player - i listened to this album on cd, but it was surely meant for vinyl (it comes in a 4 LP set).

Haunting and incredibly creepy, what feels minimal is really quite complex. There is no percussion, just music comprised of layer upon layer of distortion with notes, buzzes and echos that seem to hold for minutes on end. I must say that there are some truly fantastic guitar tones on here the likes of which i've never heard before. One combines an initial crunch that rings out with incredible sustain while another sounds like the distant buzz of a suburban weekend lawnmower or hedgetrimmer or something. I recently read a short review which trashed
Black One, but I think the reviewer came in with completely the wrong attitude. When somebody locks themself inside a casket with a microphone to channel Lady Bathory from beyond the dead, you're not dealing with anything "normal" here. This isn't for everyone, surely, but those with open minds should really get into this stuff.

Meanwhile, back on Earth...

Yeah, yeah, so I've been criminally negligent this past week in providing zero updates to this thing. I can explain fully. Basically I've been far from a computer this whole time scurrying from band practice to band practice to show to practice to insanity. I haven't done any reviews in this time, though I will say a few things about this past weekend's shows.

First, there is the matter of Friday's (4/28) show at Rockstar. I'm glad this thing kicked off a bit late because all the bands were incredible. To save myself some time and energy until I get real posts going, kudos to You Will Die (Indianapolis), Battletorn, Raise the Red Lantern (Chicago), Drugs of Faith (VA) and local intoxicators Mighty High.

And many thanks to Karim and the Wreck Room for letting us (KissingerswallowS) and The Others Ran make an indecent amount of noise on saturday. Our upstart little bastard project, Blastocyst, also got to do a guest set and the whole show was super fun.

Okay, that's all until tomorrow, when I will post something more dense.