Happy Labor Day


Hey, better late than never right?

I’ve been dealing with a few health problems these past few weeks and its cut into the time I usually set aside for blogging. Labor Day was actually on Monday. I celebrated by watching most of the Dark Knight Trilogy (I always fall asleep when stuff gets good).

But hey, I’m not dead yet. Hope everyone had a happy one.

 

Loneliness is not a phase…


 

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I have a bit of a problem with depression. To be fair it has gotten better over the years, but it’s still always there. And occasionally it tends to flare up.

I suppose you may wonder what this has to do with a music blog. Well, this disease has gone a long way toward shaping my tastes in music. Even though I don’t listen to either artist now as much as I did during my high school years I still consider Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails to be my favorite groups. I’ve come across a lot of bands that I like just as much or maybe more since graduation, but I’ll always have a place in my heart for those two. Listening to them really saved my life and helped me to realize that I wasn’t the only one dealing with these demons.

And I still haven’t found anything that can make feel better when I’m down than Dirt, The Downward Spiral or Jar of Flies. Although I’ve found quite a few songs that help; The Descendents’ “Cool To Be You,” Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water” and Tom Waits’ “Train Song.”

I’ve never written at length about this for a number of reasons. For one, I’m not looking for pity. I’m a grown man; I don’t need pity. I need anti-depressants. Which is another reason I don’t often speak about it. It’s rather embarrassing to admit you need a drug to make you feel normal. I’ve heard a lot of people say they got on meds and didn’t feel like themselves anymore. For me it’s the exact opposite. I tried to get off of them earlier this year only to realize how much I need them. And it’s not just a mental thing. I mean, it is a mental disorder, but without that in my system I have trouble sleeping, near constant stomach pain, lethargy and loss of appetite. I also get this weird feeling I imagine would be like sticking my finger in the light socket.

Robin Williams Depression QuoteSo if someone says they’re depressed, sure it’s a good thing to try to cheer them up; but remember you might as well be trying to cure the flu.

So why say anything about it now? Because I’m feeling depressed. I’ve been listening to AIC and NIN. I’m thinking about putting on The Wall. I guess I hope that sharing will help it to go away. Maybe if I put it out there in the open it will lose it’s power over me. I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on this subject and a lot of them are very good. But no one ever really hit the nail on the head for me.

For me, depression is like a cancer. It’s not poisoning my blood or eating away at my lungs, but it’s polluting my soul. It prevents me from being the me I want to be and forces me to sit alone in the dark wishing I could just feel differently.

I want to say it’s like a tumor growing inside me. But that’s not right. It’s more like one of the Xenomorphs from the Alien movies. I can almost feel it moving and growing in my stomach like it’s just waiting to burst out of my chest.

Some people are have strange phobias. People are scared of all sorts of weird shit; snakes, spiders, Muslims or the boogeyman under the bed. But for me, the boogeyman is alive and well inside my head.

I hope maybe I’ve written something that might make some of you understand mental illness better. And if I’ve written something that you can relate to I hope you’re seeking help and will get better. Aside from being somewhat embarrassing, depression is a royal pain in the ass.

But you know what’s funny? Loneliness has been with me for so long that I bet if it were to go away… I would miss it.

Do You Know What The Queers Are Doing To The Soil!


 

I can still remember being confused when I first heard of the controversy about gay marriage. I was 18 or 19 when things really started to heat up, but I never understood what all the fuss was about. I mean, gay people are people too right? If they want to get married why stop them. It just seems silly to me.

I know some people have religious objections. I get that, but the thing is that we live in a society where we have freedom of religion. This means that others don’t have to agree with my religious views and I don’t have to believe in theirs. I’m a big fan of this because it allows me to go to a church that focuses on doing good works in the community and “Love one another as I have loved you” and not one that promotes hatred of people who are different from me or creationism. Hell, I have so much freedom that I can even NOT go to church if it suits my fancy.

I never really understood the argument of “The Bible says it’s wrong” as a legal justification for outlawing gay marriage. The first amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. I’m not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar, but I think that means that you need more reason for denying people the right to marry whom they choose than your personal religious beliefs.

Fuck this 'God Hates Fags' guy.The best part now is how people are comparing LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws with Shariah law. I find that a little confusing because I’m pretty sure Islamic fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram, DAESH and the Saudi Arabian government that govern with Sharia punish homosexuality with death. So really, if you want to discriminate against gays shouldn’t you be in favor of Shariah law?

And doesn’t the bible just say that two men shouldn’t have sex? (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13) I always heard that marriage was just like dating, but without the sex. So shouldn’t Christians be encouraging gays to marry so that they have less sex?

I honestly thing we’ll look back someday at how we treated homosexuals and be ashamed of ourselves. Just as we’re ashamed of the way we treated blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, women, the Irish, the Dutch, the French, the Japanese, the Chinese and pretty much every other group of people that were different than us.

But that was before I learned about what the queers are doing to the soil.

 

“A few days after that, I open up the mail. And there’s a pamphlet
In there. From Pueblo, Colorado, and it’s addressed to Bill, Jr.
And it’s entitled, “Do you know what the queers are doing to our
Soil?”

Now, Stuart, if you look at the soil around any large US city,
There’s a big underground homosexual population. Des Moines, Iowa,
For an example. Look at the soil around Des Moines, Stuart.
You can’t build on it; you can’t grow anything in it. The government
Says it’s due to poor farming. But I know what’s really going on,
Stuart. I know it’s the queers. They’re in it with the aliens.
They’re building landing strips for gay Martians, I swear to
God.

You know what, Stuart, I like you. You’re not like the other
People, here in this trailer park.”

The Glorious Rachel Bloom


 

I don’t usually do much on Sunday. Most weeks I make it to church in the morning, but lately I haven’t been doing much after except for watching Netflix and eating pizza. I used to go to the gym and when the weather wasn’t so hot I’d go fishing, but lately it’s just been Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Pepperoni and Sausage.

But one Sunday activity that I’m pretty regular about is listening to the National Public Radio program “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” on npr.org. I really like staying up with current events and I also like comedy so a comedy news quiz seems tailor made for me.

Every show features a celebrity guest. This is usually some type of B-rated celebrity. You’re not going to have Leonardo DiCaprio or Stephen King, but you do get quite a few Governors and actors. They seem to have a lot of musicians on there too. I’ve heard interviews with Jewel, Ice Cube and George Clinton.

Rachel BloomBut my favorite was a comedienne named Rachel Bloom. I was actually fishing while listening to that episode, but when they started describing the YouTube video that propelled her to stardom I had to pause the podcast, reel in my line and sit and watch. “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury,” is a great representation of Bloom’s comedy. It’s satirizing not only an entire genre of music, but also the entirety of popular culture. I mean, the idea that a bobble-headed, Britney Spears type singer would even be aware of Ray Bradbury is completely ludicrous. Which is what makes it so goddamn hilarious.

I just found out that she does have an album out, but I’ve heard most of the songs from exploring the rabbit hole on YouTube after “Bradbury” ends. The songs range from insane (“I Steal Pets”) to self deprecating (“We Don’t Need A Man”) to somewhat offensive (“Die When I’m Young”), but they’re all hilarious. I think my favorite is the sad ballad “Pictures Of Your Dick” which always leaves me in tears… of laughter.

I even managed to watch all 18 episodes of her TV Show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Obviously I enjoyed it, but it was a little long. Aside from how gorgeous Rachel Bloom is the main thing that kept my attention were the great tunes like “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” “I Love My Daughter (But Not In A Creepy Way),” “I Gave You A UTI” and “Sexy French Depression.” I’ve often felt like the Josh character when he tries to woo the girl with his tune “Settle For Me.”

And I think I’m developing a fetish for Jewish girls. The Song “JAP Battle” pits two extremely beautiful Jewish American Princesses against each other. Add that to how I’ve fallen in love with Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia and Sarah Silverman and I think it’s safe to say I’d like to find a girl from the tribe.

I wonder what the result will be on porn sites for smart girls who can make me laugh.

BREAKING: Donald Trump Can Suck A Bag of Dicks


The Donald opening his mouth in anticipation.

The Donald opening his mouth in anticipation.

Greenville, SC – Scientists near Bob Jones University have confirmed what many have long suspected: Donald Trump can suck a bag of dicks.

“While it has long been known that Trump’s mouth is perfectly designed for spewing racist, misogynistic and xenophobic phrases as well as lying and inciting political violence we now know that this orifice can also be used for a variety of other activities,” said Allan Hill, the lead researcher on the study. “For instance, he can also use his mouth for chewing, breathing or smoking. And by smoking I mean pole smoking. Seriously, that dude can suck a bag full of dicks.”

The news came as a shock to some. Adult film star Ivana Bigwon takes pride in her work and insists that it’s not as easy as it appears.

“Look,” said Bigwon. “I know it looks really easy to suck all those dicks, but it really takes a lot of work. I have to fight mouth cramps and dry mouth; not to mention the taste and smell of all those dirty wieners. I’ve done a lot of gang bangs and I have to tell you, it gets pretty nasty. A lot of the time I have to do several takes.”

Still, others are not surprised.

“I’ve been saying this for a long time now,” says Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival for the Presidency. “That man can go somewhere and suck a whole bag full of dicks.”

A Bag of Dicks.

A Bag of Dicks.

While the precise number of dicks included in a “bag of dicks” is up to debate it is generally thought that a bag represents anywhere from 7 -15 dicks.

“I don’t think it’s unbelievable that nearly anyone could suck seven dicks in a row,” sais Louise Klein, an oral scientist. “I personally have sucked eleven in one sitting and I could have gone for more, but I ran out and the store was closed. And anyway, Trump is an asshole. He can totally suck a bag of dicks.”

Editor’s Note: Donald Trump is a total douche bag who has embarrassed many Americans. It should be noted that his views do not represent the nation as a whole. And seriously, the guy can suck a whole bag full of dicks. 

The A.N.C. @ The Cleveland Agora


ANC in Cleveland 17/7/201617 July 2016

Agora Theater & Ballroom; Cleveland, OH

Sunless Sky, Two Dead Roses, Garblejunk, Otep, Suicide Machines, Helmet, Green Jelly, Ministry, Next to None

When I heard the Republican National Convention was going to be held in Cleveland, my first thought was that there was going to be an awesome punk rock show going on somewhere in town at the same time.

I was half right. The A.N.C. wan’t a punk show, but it was fucking awesome.

Me with Vermin Supreme

Me with Vermin Supreme

I made it to the Mistake on the Lake a few hours before the show to join a march to shut down Trump and the RNC. It’s both good and bad that this was a peaceful protest. Good because I didn’t get hurt and bad because it doesn’t make for a very good story. The most exciting part was that I got a selfie with presidential candidate Vermin Supreme.

Then we hoofed it from 18th street all the way back to 50th in time to catch the first notes of the evening. I wished we would have stayed a little longer. Sunless Sky were a good band, but not really my thing. They had a sound like an updated Judas Priest.* It was good enough to get my head bobbing and their singer had an awesome set of pipes, but I was hoping for some incendiary political commentary.

Things didn’t really start to heat up until Garblejunk took the stage. Unlike when I saw them at Scio Showcase a few years ago they didn’t sound Garble-y or Junky. I was somewhat disappointed, but their acoustic metal came through the PA crisp and clear. A good sound coupled with good energy made for an enjoyable set. The best part was looking at the crowd and seeing the looks of confusion… followed quickly by smiles.

The Suicide Machines

The Suicide Machines

One of the main reasons I bought the ticket was to see Otep. I saw her perform at Ozzfest in 2004 and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Sadly, her performance Sunday was about the same length as at Ozzfest. They rocked their asses off for the half-hour they had and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I would have loved to have heard more than five songs from them.

While it was an awesome show with a great eclectic mix of artists it would have been nice to have had more time with a few of them. I also didn’t care much for having to bounce back and forth between the theater and the ballroom, but I suppose having both stages going was the only way to fit all the bands into 6 hours. Still, it was a little much.

After Otep I stepped into the smaller room and found myself immediately bored by the Suicide Machines. It was such awful noise that I took a minute to check my Facebook. Then they broke into the catchy “War Profiteering Is Killing Us All” and I realized they were a hardcore band and supposed to be awful noise. From that moment I was hooked. I’m not a big fan of the clean guitars of ska, but in a live setting it is pretty enjoyable. And I think I was the only person in the room to cheer when the singer asked if there were any factory or steelworkers in the audience. It was the kind of political rabble rousing I paid my hard earned money to see.

Helmet

Helmet

Unfortunately, I missed the end of their set in order to get a good spot for Helmet. Helmet are dinosaurs. They started in the 90s and Page Hamilton is only two years younger than Al Jourgenson, which means he was born in the neolithic era when bands had to carve their instruments out of rocks. They’re also dinosaurs in the sense that they produce fucking monstrous sounds. You can say “It’s a shame I didn’t get to see them back in the day,” but I’m not sure how they could have been any better in 1996 than they are in 2016.** Then after they were done I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of brontosauruses. (This concludes the prehistoric-comparison paragraph of this post.)

I wasn’t very impressed with Green Jelly, but I suppose that is somewhat to be expected. When you spend 30 years touring as a joke band and you only have one hit you’re bound to disappoint a lot of people. I was outside smoking when they did “Three Little Pigs” so I only caught the end. I did catch “Anarchy in Bedrock” but it wasn’t the same. By the time their singer climbed onto a ladder to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon” I was bored. I managed to find a chair and waited for Ministry to hit the stage.

Ministry

Ministry

MC Jello Biafra wasn’t quite as cool as I’d hoped for. I liked his political rants; though I don’t agree with everything he said. There wasn’t enough time for him to get his point across and he mainly just introduced the bands. I would have paid just as much money to go to an even that was just him, Al Jourgenson and Otep giving speeches, but I think a few other fans just wanted the music. Surprisingly, there were a few Trump fans in the building too. I wonder if they know they paid money to watch a refugee and a lesbian perform.

Ministry is a perennially awesome band. This was the third time I’ve seen them and though I haven’t cared too much for their last few albums it may have been my favorite performance. I loved their opener “Hail To His Majesty.” It seemed like a new song written just to mock Trump, but it turns out it’s on their most recent album From Beer To Eternity. They played a few songs from Rio Grande Blood, which is my favorite of their recent albums, but things didn’t get totally awesome until they hit the one-two punch of “N.W.O.” and “Just One Fix.” The best thing was that they’ve updated them up a little so it wasn’t the same performance I’ve already seen twice before.

Ministry

Ministry

I was shocked to hear them break into “Thieves” and “Stigmata.” I’ve never heard those songs live. I had to hand my buddy the Otep CD I’d bought so I could hop into the pit for the latter. When they left the stage and the lights didn’t come on I wondered how they could top that, but they did “Psalm 69,” “So What” and “Khyber Pass” as an encore. They wrapped up with DEVO’s “Gates of Steel.”

From there the show deteriorated to the point where it was just a commercial for Surgical Meth Machine, Al Jourgenson’s new project. The giant projector continued to play videos with some dancier music in the background. I was about to head out when I saw Uncle Al and guitarist Sin Quirin pop around the side of the stage. I managed to make my way over and get a handshake from both of them. I’m pretty sure that was the highlight of my night.

For some reason there was another band playing after Ministry, but I didn’t stay to check them out. I had been on my feet for 8 hours and still had a long drive home. I was ready to leave and I even called in sick the next day to get a little extra rest.

It was all worth it.

 

*Before you take this as an insult let me point out that I am a fan of Judas Priest. If I wished to insult you I would have compared you to Iron Maiden, who for some reason I’ve never gotten into.

**I ran into the drummer later on and made a comment about his Local H t-shirt. He told me they’ll be on tour with that band in the fall so they may be featured in another post this year.

Fiona Apple “Tidal”


FionaAppleTidal(23 July 1996, Columbia)

A few weeks ago I saw that Tidal was trending on Twitter. I had already planned to do this post so I clicked to see what people were saying. I thought they were talking about Fiona Apple’s magnificent 1996 debut. With the 20th anniversary coming up it made sense. The first tweet linked to an article about how Apple was trying to buy Tidal. Well, this confused me, but then I read it was about tech giant Apple wanting to buy a music streaming service Jay-Z started.

Well, that makes more sense. No one cares about a great piece of music from 20 years ago.

But I wasn’t completely naive to think others still care about Fiona Apple. According to her Wikipedia page the album received awesome acclaim from Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Slate Magazines and is featured in 1001 Albums to Listen to Before you Die.

And then, of course, there is that video. To males of my generation Apple was one of the ultimate sex symbols thanks to “Criminal.” It’s worth noting that this was before the slut-pop explosion of the late 90’s featuring Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and P!nk. Sure, there were other sexy videos at the time, but I can’t remember any of them. I can barely remember any from Britney, Christina or P!nk any more. But “Criminal” is permanently etched in my brain. I think that video may have jump started my pituitary gland into early onset puberty. And now that I’m older I still love this video. Especially the end part where the dish detergent floats up in the air. What the hell is that all about?

But the greatest thing is that the song is about a woman admitting she was wrong, and that’s something we don’t get to hear often enough.

 

It seems disrespectful to lump Apple in with all of the other slut-pop singers. About the only thing she had in common with them was the gratuitous partial nudity (which should be noted only occurred in one video). Aside from that she had more in common with Adele; a sultry voice, jazzy music, lack of choreography and actual talent. If Miley Cyrus’ genre of music is like a romantic comedy, Fiona Apples’ is a serious drama.

It’s also worth noting that Apple never seemed particularly comfortable with her role as rock star/sex symbol. From the “the world is bullshit” acceptance speech she made when receiving a Video Music Award to dating Marilyn Manson to her current status as eccentric artist she never seemed to relish stardom or bask in it. I don’t think shes done extremely well weathering the storms of fame, but she’s done a lot better than Kurt Cobain.

And aside from that one megahugegiganticenourmous hit song there are another nine great tunes. I’ve never cared too much for opener “Sleep to Dream.” I think it may have to do with the instrumentation. I’d prefer piano and drums to the weird backward bass loops. “Shadowboxer” has always been a favorite for it’s driving piano riff. “The First Taste” is interesting and has a bit of an island feel even without steel drums. Because of the line “There’s too much going on…” “Sullen Girl” has always reminded me of “Talking Old Soldiers” by Elton John. They don’t have much in common except for the piano and that one line, but it’s enough for me to make a connection.

My one problem with the album is how much of it is piano/vocal ballads. They’re great songs, but it’s not the kind of music I tend to pull down off the shelf very often. Of course, I can’t imagine what the songs would sound like with a more prominent backing band.

fionaappleBut the lyrics more than make up for any issues I may have. It’s weird and somewhat worrisome that I find the ramblings of this crazy girl so relatable, but with all the copies of this album that sold I can’t have been the only one. My favorite is from the closer “Carrion”: “My feel for you boy, Is decaying in front of me, Like the carrion of a murdered prey.”

That’s right, she’s comparing her emotions to roadkill. This is truly a woman after my own heart.