29 May 2008

Good Show Reminder, Saturday 5/31

For anyone in the Brooklyn area this coming Saturday, head on over to The Charleston for what should be an awesome show featuring some friends' bands. Anyone who is into mathy, jazzy challenging music that really tears ass should make a point to be at this show. Not only is The Charleston a pretty good bar/venue, they also have free pizza with your beer order. I don't know how you could say 'no' now, eh. Of course, I know people will say, "But this means I have to go to Williamsburg on a Saturday night and that sucks." I will agree with you that being on Bedford Ave on a weekend is like being in a special circle of Hell, but all the fakery stops at The Charleston's door, because shitty people hate good music (for the most part) and anyway, you'll be in the basement.

Saturday, May 31
8:30pm, $? (cheap or free?)
The Charleston, 174 Bedford Ave, W-burg Brooklyn

Yukon - Charm City post-hardcore, these guys were great last time I saw 'em
STATS - Jazz yr face off rock music without bullshit.
Maw - 3 assholes and no bass player.
Liturgy- Hunter from Birthday Boyz's solo project. Justin from Maw says this is awesome. I trust Justin.

I Knew It Wouldn't Take Long

Two weeks. Not exactly stellar, but at least I remembered today and not, you know, next week or something. So here's a belated random mp3 selección (at some point I'll come up with a clever name for this...if I remember).

Dinosaur Jr, "Cats In A Bowl"
While most of the time it's impossible to tell what J was singing, it's always been easy to make out the words when Lou sings (in any of his projects). Unfortunately, though I hear the words fine, I have no idea what on earth he's singing about here. Also, I could care less since it's a Lou song and even in Sebadoh I always preferred Jason's or Eric's songs for the most part. Lou always sings about girls and his feelings, which is fine if you're into that sort of stuff, but he's always been too sappy for my taste. In case anyone cares, Dinosaur Jr is my favorite band of all time and J is the reason I learned to play guitar.

At The Gates, "Slaughter of the Soul"
Title track from the best metal album made almost entirely in 3/4 time. These guys were fucking pros when it came to make such a standard time signature seem really interesting. This album is great, but I think my friend/drummer, Nick, has persuasively brought me over to the side that thinks Terminal Spirit Disease is their best work. It's a close call at the very least and, regardless, I'm going to be attending the reunion tour in a matter of weeks, or days (whatever the ticket date says).

The Mercury Program, "Re-Inventing A Challenge For Machines"
This band I know little to nothing about other than they were from Gainesville and their early stuff was lacklustre and had crappy vocals. At some point the smarted up and went all instrumental and I think this ep,
From the Vapor of Gasoline, is when they made the change. This album and the two that follow (All the Suits Began to Fall Off and A Data Learn the Language) are both great albums to chill out to, especially if you like vibraphones. I consider this stuff "easy listening" but I guess that's relative to the rest of my collection, which is mainly not "easy" at all.

Autechre, "Dael"
These guys seem to pop up every time I put my iPod on random. I won't read into that at all because there's no point really. It's a random generator. Anyway, this track is awesome and has this sort of "farting" noise going on.

Miles Davis, "52nd St Theme"
I'm a terrible jazz historian and, frankly, don't care for a lot of it, though I appreciate the fact that jazz is responsible for probably 87% of what I love in music. As hard as I try I can't get into a lot of the old bop stuff, it all sounds the same and I can barely tell one great artist from another. Maybe it's a mental block or something. When this stuff was hitting the streets I can imagine the ruckus it caused, but it's so tame today that it lacks the nails to dig into my skin and really tear at me. Miles made some amazing music, but since I started listening to The Real Birth of the Cool it always turns into background music. Now Bitches Brew is still some out-there shit, but that was years after this stuff. Call me a weirdo, but I'll take some avant-garde fusion sound collage experimentalism any day.

28 May 2008

Meanwhile, Jupiter Suffers Break-Out Just In Time For Summer

I'm not sure most people realize how large Jupiter is. (I'm also not sure people really understand how large Earth is, either, but that's a completely different topic.) Anyway, Jupiter has developed two new giant storms near its famous "Great Red Spot". Just so you're all aware, the Great Red Spot is more than two Earth diameters across. Apparently if the little one that sits in the same band continues to move toward the Big Guy they will collide sometime in August. I'm so excited about this.

George Lucas Needs A Nanny

I saw the latest Indiana Jones movie tonight and, well, most of the reviews I've read are spot-on: it's an entertaining movie with several major flaws. First, the posi spin: I'd go so far as to say 2/3s of the movie are pretty damn good. This is an action movie, not an existential thought-provoker so as long as you can set aside a little disbelief you'll be with 'em all the way. Harrison Ford is predictably great and even gets an, "I've got a bad feeling about this...", line in there (+2 for that). The rest of the actors were mediocre at best, though I had heard as much so kept my expectations low.
It's only at the end--which I won't bother spoiling--that everything implodes. The plot is ridiculous, I mean even for this type of movie it's poor.... Sorry, I just completely lost my train of thought because I'm too eager to bash on how George Lucas's Bags of Money (GLBOM) has ruined all of his own franchises because he's a fucking idiot. Everybody recognizes that he sullied the original Star Wars trilogy with excessive re-editing and CGI and galaxy help us if he decides to turn on the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Dude, there are fucking CGI prairie dogs in this for absolutely no reason. The ant swarm I could handle, as an early precedent for a preponderance of killer fauna was set with snakes (see Lost Ark, Raiders of the). Oh, and there's a pointless monkey chase scene as well. I'm sure that Señor Spielbergo helped temper George's toddler-brained attempts to insert cutesy shit everywhere (to the detriment of children worldwide), but not nearly enough. That's like an eleven-year old "assisting" a four-year old with their "art project".

I'm wordless now. No more movies for me this year. It costs $12 to go see a movie now, that's what I'm upset about. If I paid six dollars to see this I think I'd feel better. These guys have raked in, what, $330 million so far? meh.

26 May 2008

Memorializing Science

Today is Memorial Day here in the US, but as I'm not much for the military, I found something else more worthy of memorializing: scientific thought and inquiry. So for all you nerds out there, especially those of you who are all inked-up, I found something awesome. Science writer Carl Zimmer (who I'm assuming does not have any tattoos) has a gallery of science-related tattoos that people have sent in. Some are simple, others incredibly complex. Regardless, it's a great gallery with explanations from the inked themselves.

21 May 2008

...In No Particular Order...

I'd like to make this Wednesday mp3 randomness a regular occurrence, but god only knows if I'll be able to sustain it more than a few weeks. Do or do not, as the little fella says...anyway, here's what my iPod is throwing at me (us) today:

Arsis, "Carnal Ways To Recreate The Heart"
I got to see Jim Malone play live for a ballet a couple years ago and it was awesome. "What? A ballet?" Yeah, some folks organized a death metal ballet called Ballet Deviare that featured a ballet troupe who choreographed dances to a bunch of metal songs.
Arsis contributed "A Diamond For Disease" and, as it was the final movement of the ballet, performed it live (with a second guitarist and drum track) on a balcony above the audience. It was like a tennis match with everyone looking back and forth between the guitarists and the dancers. One of the dancers fathers remarked after the performance, "Those guys were amazing, I wasn't even watching my own daughter." Way to go, dad! I think somebody needs to make a "metal Nutcracker" now. That would be some awesome.

Pinback, "West"
There are very few "soft" bands that I listen to, but these guys are great. What started as a side-/studio project became huge and spawned thousands of copycat college bands. I only have Blue Screen Life and the Loro ep, but that's kinda all you need I think, since most of the later stuff just seems like less good versions of any of these songs. These songs make me think of girls and how cuddly they are. This song has an accordion in it. That rules.

Yob, "Quantum Mystic"
Fuck yeah. Practitioners of psychedelic doom metal from Eugene, OR, Yob made four albums before disbanding (lead guy Mike Scheidt then formed Middian). This song is the first track off their third record, The Unreal Never Lived. I'm pretty confident in saying that this record is their best and exactly where they were trying to head with the first records. Then again, I don't know anything about anything. Anyway, it's nearly eleven minutes long and not even close to the longest track on the album. The shit just riffs for ages and ages and at no point ever gets boring or weak. Goes well with "green tea" if you catch my drift.

Hum, "Scraper"
These guys are on my "Bands I need to see before I die so that I don't die bitter" list and the outlook on that front is not so good. Possibly the greatest band ever to fly under everyone's radar despite being on a major label. "Scraper" is on Electra2000 so it's before they really honed their sound, but it's still a good song. Get me even marginally wasted and I'm prone to break out both You'd Prefer An Astronaut and Downward Is Heavenward, find a chair, stand on said chair and proceed to sing them in their entirety whilst playing my best air guitar. I don't take Hum lightly. They also have the best (and most appropriate) band name ever.

And I guess before I gush too much about how awesome Hum is, I'll stop for today and maybe get some real work done. But probably not since the Champion's League Final is on in exactly one hour. I'm supporting Man U today because I loathe Chelsea with all my being. However, I pine for the day when Newcastle United reclaims a decent position in the league table...

Fun Statues Lacking Context!

Thanks to my trusty new thing-converter, I have some photos of those statues outside Budapest, in SzoborPark, that I had mentioned not too long ago.

Marx & Engels greet you in the parking lot.

"I am the Walrus!"

I haven't the foggiest recollection of what this was named, but the symbolism seems clear enough.

This statue is much less imposing in its new context: the grassy suburbs.

Han Solo wasn't the only guy frozen in carbonite, Vader got to these three Hungarian communists as well. As you can see they've yet to be freed.

16 May 2008

Homo Consumens

It's depressingly rainy outside and I can't decide if I want to have band practice tonight or watch the Celtics game. I hate choices. Speaking of!...

14 May 2008

The Icky Shuffle

Remember Icky Woods and his celebration dance? Unless you're from Cincinnati or happened to be a Bengals fan (I was when I was 7 or 8), I don't expect you to. This post isn't about that, either. This is my version of The Onion AV Club's "Random Rules" when they get some famous person to put their iPod on random and see what comes up. Since I'm not famous, I don't get to do that, but I was curious to see what kind of embarrassing stuff would come up if I was famous and featured in that segment.

The Acacia Strain, "Sarin: The End"
I recently got turned on to these Western Mass fellas who, by their name, I would have thought were some mediocre metalcore band. Nope. This album, 2006's The Dead Walk, is pretty damn tight, so I was pleasantly surprised. It's not something I'd listen to all the time, and I get the impression that their fans are of the more breakdown-friendly metalcore variety, but I can definitely dig it when it pops up. Some of their tones and phrasings are rather original for what I would otherwise consider a "genre band" (because I'm a dick and I label things).

Pig Destroyer, "Downpour Girl"
This little ditty, from 2004's Terrifyer, isn't one of my favorites on this record, but this whole album is so f'ing amazing that it doesn't matter. I've seen these guys a few times and they make an ungodly amount of noise for a band with only one guitarist (though, to be fair, he is Scott Hull). Some people hate this album and I can't for the life of me figure out why. I didn't find any videos of this song, but I found one of "Gravedancer" in which JR is wearing a Triac t-shirt, which is awesome, cos those dudes kill as well.

Autechre, "Stud"
I don't have any extensive knowledge of electronic music, but there is some I find quite appealing. The Manc duo are fairly prolific and have released a ton of albums and eps since '91. This track is from one of the few albums of theirs I have, 1995's, Tri Repetae. When I'm not listening to retardedly heavy music, I tend to put on either classical music of stuff like Autechre or any of Aphex Twin's ambient works. In my completely unqualified opinion, quality electronic music should capture our modern mechanized and schizophrenic period, yet remain oddly blissful.

Autechre, "The Pic"
Okay, so it looks like I get a double dose today. This track is off their latest release, Quaristice, and is much less low-key than the above. It is this sort of track, full of bleeps and sound squiggles, that sends my brain into "the world of the future" that is right now. My head conjures images of a lot of modernist and postmodernist European and Japanese landscapes when I listen to this stuff.
But that's just me.

Sole, "Respect, Pt. 3"
Lastly we have one of the few hip-hop artists I really appreciate. I don't give a shit that he's white and from Maine and blah blah blah. He's a poet, he actually says something with his art and lives what he says. I think that's important for any artist. This track is from 2003's Selling Live Water, an album that defined, on some level anyway, that year of my life. I used to sit on the Chinatown bus between Boston and New York with this record on repeat and just write. Sole's lyrics are dark, introspective, often stream-of-consciousness and harshly critical of modern society, so as far as hip-hop goes, I can relate to what he's talking about. Also, Jel's production on this album is killer.

PS- I was gonna link to a video of Icky doing his famous dance, but I couldn't find one!!!! I found the next best thing, though: a women's fitness class doing it on FoxNews in da 'Nati. (You're so so so welcome it hurts.)

Best Postcards Ever

This first card comes to you from Budapest. When I was there in 2003 I visited Szobor Park, the 'burial ground' of the city's Communist-era monuments. The place is wickedly surreal, as it is located up on a bucolic hillside in the western suburbs. The place is literally squat in the middle of a residential neighborhood, surrounded by houses and some trees and powerlines. Why they chose that spot I have no idea. I also have no idea what the photographer was thinking when they took this picture, nevermind what anyone was thinking when they decided to turn it into a postcard. Anyway, this place was great and as soon as I return to Budapest, I'm heading right back to the park.

This other 'best postcard ever' came to me a few years ago via the lovely and talented Allison Cekala. If anyone has an actual collection of amazing postcards, it's most likely her. As soon as she gets her website up and running, I'll link to it (hint, hint...Alli, get on that, eh!). As for this card, it's from Mexico somewhere and features what I imagine is a battle between legions of the dead. Whatever it is it's rad as hell and I keep it tacked up on my wall next to that chubby Magyar baby.

13 May 2008

Fromm of the Day

I got a new scanner for my birthday, so I'll be making good use of it with new segments like "Fromm of the Day" and whatever else I find around that makes good scanner fodder:

09 May 2008

Getting Fuck-All Done Today

I don't recall what I was doing on my birthday last year, but I don't think it was raining. Today it's raining and I'm supposed to be writing. But I'm getting fuck-all done today between errands, procrastinating with my new guitar and reading about Paris in May of '68. When I was in college I was infatuated with this period and wrote a whole bunch on it, thus I figured it would make a great topic for my other gig. Now I've been sitting here ruminating on how that seems all but evaporated today. Eight years ago people were taking to the streets for things they cared about and I was running with them. The turn of the millenium was a far milder period than '68, but there was an energy. Unfortunately we keep consuming our revolutions, if that's what they are. We want to take credit for them and stroke our egos with 'where was I during the revolution, man? well I'll tell you somethin....'
Romantic and pragmatist fight each other as if they aren't two sides of a coin, as if they aren't blood relatives, Ishmael and Isaac. And that's just on 'our side'. 'With friends like these, who the fuck needs cointelpro?' I was -13 when Paris exploded and students and workers shut down France. They shut it the fuck down! And everything they fought about then is still relevant today.

I thought I had more thoughts, but they have gone. Here's a video I've found that actually features an old professor of mine from the New School that I had when I tried my hand at grad school (and failed, haha). He never mentioned that he knew a lot about this period, even though I wrote papers and did some presentation on it or something. Actually, I don't really recall. Anyway, the video is interesting if you like learning things. Also, pay attention to the poster art montage. If we remember nothing else from that time, we must remember what these posters were trying to convey...

07 May 2008

The 7th Grade School Dance in My Skull

For the past week I've been plagued by bad songs entering my brain from the void (or somewhere near the void). Last week I woke up to some Richard Marx song I don't know the title of (thank heavens!) because somebody was blasting it out on the street. I'm still baffled by that, since I live on a majority Latino block and 90% of the time the music I hear is Caribbean or Latin. Richard Marx? Please...
While I had the good fortune of not remembering Mr. Marx's song, I have yet to get another more insidious song out of my head. That's right, it's none other than that #1 hit song in '94, then-staple of middle school dances and all-around catchy tune: Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes The Hotstepper". (You can thank me later when this gets stuck in your head for weeks on end)

Bonus!!! Did y'all catch the JMZ train? Bushwick/Bed-Stuy rep

06 May 2008

Dear Liam Flanagan,

Hi Liam. I know you're a huge fan of my site here (and a huge fan of me, in general) so I decided that, against my better judgment, I'd take your advice and start writing dating columns. See, after that mediocre date I had last week, I was all, "dating is stupid, i'm just gonna hang out with Nick and we can be boyfriends together (cos Nancy thinks we are anyway)." However, sometimes you meet somebody who is actually rad and sometimes you meet that person on the subway 'cos you keep running into them on the subway and you have to say something or else it becomes more awkward than this run-on sentence. Meeting folks on the subway is terrible and 97% of the time I highly recommend not doing it. Then again, most statistics are made up anyway. I guess my advice amounts to something like this: If you're not a sketchy guy or possible date-rapist, and you see an adorable girl (or handsome guy, or cute tranny, or whatever) on the subway, for pete's sake, say something. I'm hoping that this time was the 3% that I highly recommended to myself.

Now that that's done, I'm never ever ever ever writing about dating ever again. Liam, you're welcome. Oh, and who is Alex Bradshaw?

PS-The restaurant Moto in Williamsburg is really good.

02 May 2008

I am some sort of Futuristic-Alloy-Man!

I was out on what would probably be considered a 'first date' last night (oh, must I qualify every phrase I use?) and ended going to see the new film IronMan. My dating skills are only slightly less honed than my writing skills, so it went, for all I know, pretty well. Anyway, thanks to whatever was going on with the 4 & 6 trains yesterday, my date, Rebecca, and I and two of her friends completely missed the first 20 minutes of the movie (some of her other friends had gotten advance tickets for all of us). Now, generally, seeing the first 20 minutes of a movie is fairly important. It could very well have been the case in this film as well, but I may never find out. For whatever reasons, despite missing the beginning the rest of the movie made complete sense, though it was pretty terrible. I won't lie and say I wasn't entertained, because I actually was very entertained. Not by Robert Downey, Jr. (who is just a creepy guy these days and walks around the entire film with his chest puffed out. It's ridiculous.), no, no, the real star of the show was The Dude...er...Jeff Bridges.

Okay, I'll confess that I've only seen Mr. Bridges in a few roles outside of his masterpiece, The Big Lebowski, but I know he's a versatile actor. That's why I was kinda shocked that he played the entire role of Obadiah Stane as if he were 'The Dude in the role of Obadiah Stane'. I thought it was fucking hilarious. Maybe we'll all look back on this performance in the way we can now see Gina Gershon's role in Showgirls. As is mentioned in the commentary of the box-set edition of that film, Ms. Gershon is the only person in the entire cast who knows what movie she is making. Same goes here for Jeff Bridges in IronMan. What a travesty of a film and what a superb job as The Dude playing an evil weapons manufacturing tycoon. In the words of the big Lebowski, 'You're joking, but maybe you're right.'