RIP J. Geils


You probably wouldn’t take me for a big J. Geils fan. To be fair, I’m not a big J. Geils fan. But how can anyone with a pair of ears (or even one ear) resist that melody in “Centerfold”?

I certainly can’t. And I’m excited to read Boppin’s Post on Geils’ Top 10 to hear some of the band’s songs beyond those three I already know.

Day of the New – S/T (Green)


Days of the New green(31 August 1999, Outpost)

One of the greatest things about music is its ability to take you places. Hearing a song can make you feel like you’re back in junior high school without a care in the world. A lot of songs bring scenes in movies to mind (think of Forrest Gump). Sometimes it can take you to a whole other world. Days of the New’s second album has the power to transport me from wherever I happen to be back to Hyrule.

My mom met the man who would become her second husband while I was in high school. He was living in a small apartment above a bar with a mattress, a chihuahua/shih tzu mix and a huge stereo from Rent-a-Center. It didn’t take long until he moved in with us; and brought the dog and the stereo. It’s easy to date when he moved in because he only had four CDs: Ozzy’s No Rest For The Wicked, Yngwie Malmsteem’s Facing the Animal, Godsmack’s debut and DotN’s second album.

“Enemy” was a big hit at the time and he loved it. He would play that album over and over while drinking at the kitchen table with his buddies. Being in high school I wasn’t old enough to drink and probably spent at least a little bit of time studying. But when I wasn’t studying I was sitting in front of the television with my little brother because around the same time he moved in with that huge stereo we got a Super Nintendo and A Link To The Past. I have no idea how many times we played through that game together, but I can remember having a lot of fun with him. I think that may have been the best bonding we ever did.

And the great thing is that whenever I hear Days of the New’s second album I can think back on those days.

the_legend_of_zelda_a_link_to_the_past_snes_game_coverIt probably helps that the album starts off with the sound of horse hooves. How else can I get from the water level to the desert level quickly? I’m a huge fan of all the segues that blend the tracks together. I honestly can’t name most of the songs on this album, and probably couldn’t tell you where most of them begin or end because it works as such a great cohesive whole.

The secret weapon is Nicole Sherzinger who would later achieve mega stardom as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. It feels really weird to write that because the musical styles of the two groups couldn’t be more distant. But Sherzinger does have a beautiful voice and uses it to great effect with Days of the New.

Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter Travis Meeks got a lot of grief for pulling one of those megalomaniacal stunts of firing his whole band, but in his defense did you ever listen to Tantric? That was not a band I enjoyed. Sure, they were competent musicians and their stuff was okay, but there was no fire behind it. It always sounded like safe, middle-of-the-road rock to me. I just imagine them bringing the songs to him and him saying “No. You’re all fired.”

The acoustic guitars are still front and center but there’s plenty of other instrumentation to shake things up. The acoustic guitar thing was a good gimmick that definitely got them attention with their debut, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t have kept peoples interest if they’d just repeated that formula.

I’m not sure what all the instruments were used on this album , but I’m guessing there’s an ocarina in there somewhere. It really takes me back then.

 

The Best of 2016


Ahhh, it is finally time for my favorite blogging activity of the year: the “best of” list. I’ve come across a few already filled with death metal and/or indie rock that I have never heard, but I hope this list will have a little something for everyone. Then again, I didn’t see anything from my Amazon wishlist the last time I went to FYE so I’m pretty sure I’m out of touch with the times.

Bloody Hammers Lovely Sort of Death – This album popped up on my radar courtesy of Mr. 1537 and managed to beat out Al Jourgenson’s Surgical Meth Machine and Green Day’s Revolution Radio for the low spot on this list. I’m sure those artists will be pretty upset about that.

 

The Descendents  Hypercaffium Spazzium – This was a pretty good record, but it felt a little too of the moment. This album definitely sounds like it was made in 2016 and you can hear a lot of modern influence. For my money, I’d recommend Cool to be You.

Otep Generation Doom I got a little grief for enjoying this one, but I’m a sucker for militant, butch lesbians with anger problems.

Helmet Dead to the World – I managed to catch these guys live twice this year, which is unheard of for me at the ripe old age of 33. But they managed to impress both times (even with their singer being at the ripe old age of 56).

 

David Bowie Blackstar I would have loved to have listened to this one more, but I stayed away from it because of recent problems with depression. Hopefully next year I’ll get to spend a little more time with it.

 

Garbage Strange Little Birds

 

Weezer – The White Album After several lackluster albums Weezer have somehow managed to redeem themselves with the awesome Everything Will Be Alright In The End and now this one.

 

Rachel Bloom – My new favorite Jewess. Is that a racist term?

Local H Hey Killer (2015) This is one I picked up after reading a best of list for last year and it’s remained in constant rotation. This is my favorite track off the album. I was more disappointed that they didn’t play this when I saw them open for Helmet than I was by the omission of “Bound for the Floor.”

 

Leonard Cohen You Want it Darker – I’m not going to lie, when I listened to Popular Problems in 2014 I wasn’t thrilled. I’m not sure why, but something about it didn’t resonate with me. That’s definitely not the case with this album. This would still be in the top spot even if he hadn’t died this year. But it’s as great a swan song as anyone can imagine.

 

Don’t Dwell On What Is Passed Away…


Leonard Cohen "The Future"When I first got my copy of Leonard Cohen’s album “The Future” I remember thinking that the cover image would make a really cool tattoo. Hearing the song “Anthem” reinforced the idea. “Bought and sold and bought again, the dove is never free.” I think that’s one of the most beautiful lines ever written.

But like a lot of ideas I filed it away somewhere in my mind and didn’t think about it for two decades.

Then a few things happened this year that brought it up again. Of course, the death of Leonard Cohen had me thinking about “Anthem” more than any other song. The line “Don’t dwell on what is passed away, or what is yet to be” is one that can be appropriate when anyone dies. I think I’m going to update my will to include that track along with Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” as tunes I’d like played at my funeral.

But more than that, I’ve suffered from a really severe and long lasting depression for the last quarter of this year and that line is one that I really feel is good to latch on to. I mean, I’m depressed because I’m dwelling on what has passed away and what is yet to be. I suppose that’s probably what makes most people depressed.

Anthem TattooSo with that perfect storm in mind I walked into a tattoo shop last week and had someone mark me up. It was done more to help me get over the depression (which it seems to be helping) than as a way to commemorate Leonard Cohen, but I think it’s the best tattoo I have.

I think it’ll help me to live in the moment, and if I ever forget I just need to find a mirror.

 

 

 

 

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)


 

leonard-cohenI feel really bad about the death of Leonard Cohen. Not just because we’ve lost one of the most original artists to ever grace popular music or because his style, words or voice will never be duplicated, but because I had the idea to write this post a few days before his death. It may have been because I recently watched the 30 Rock episode where Alec Baldwin gets the idea to prerecord a celebrity studded special honoring the victims of a yet-to-have-happened tragedy. Or it may have something to do with a preoccupation with the morbid.

Either way, my bad. I really feel like I jinxed us with this one.

I’m 98.537% sure that the first time I heard the name Leonard Cohen was in the Nirvana song “Pennyroyal Tea.” But it didn’t really interest me a whole helluva lot. It didn’t have the same interesting backstory as “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” or the violent torture in Mayberry of “Floyd the Barber.” So really it was just a name in a Nirvana song. Nothing any more special than Alvin Tostig or Levon.

But then I read a Guitar World interview with Lou Reed. I can’t remember the exact context of what they were talking about, but Reed said something along the lines of “Leonard Cohen had one of the greatest opening lines ever: ‘Give me crack and anal sex.'” The interviewer corrected him in saying that’s actually the beginning of the second verse to “The Future” and then Reed pointed out that a line like that will really get your attention.

Well, it sure managed to get mine. But this was in the late nineties, long before Spotify, YouTube or the Play Store. I knew that there was this song with a really fucked up line in it, but I had no idea where to find it. Would they carry something like that at the library in Amish country? I didn’t think so.

So that brings us back to me being a rather morbid individual. In high school I didn’t participate in many after school activities. Like any clinically depressed teenager I would get off the bus, smoke some pot, watch a movie a movie and usually fall asleep. One day something went wrong and I managed to stay awake until the end credits of one of my favorite flicks, Natural Born Killers. (I’m surprised that movie isn’t a cult classic along the lines of Fight Club or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You’d think for a society that relishes vilifying the media as much as ours it would be a modern classic.) Anyway, the movie ended and the credits started to roll. I hear a nice organ riff and some clean guitar under a gravelly voice. And then I hear the line “Give me crack and anal sex.”

So my discovery of Leonard Cohen was more of a result of Lou Reed and Oliver Stone than Kurt Cobain, but I made it there eventually. I remember it worried the shit out of my mom when I bought a copy of The Future. I suppose it would worry any parent if their child took as much interest as I did in the movie Natural Born Killers, but give me a break; it’s a great flick.

leonard cohenOf course, I didn’t hear his biggest hit until a few years later. I want to say it was 2007 and I was seeing a girl who took me down to the Baptist Church on the South Side of town. I usually prefer organ music during a worship service, but this church had a contemporary band and something about that song really stood out. Maybe it was the fact that it just doesn’t seem like a song you’d hear in church. Sure, the chorus has a great melody of “Hallelujah,” but if you look at the verses… is it really a christian song.

And maybe that’s the most beautiful thing about Leonard Cohen. His songs are filled with beautiful instrumentation and some of the most poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard, but most of the time I have no idea what exactly he was trying to say.

 

Courtney Love Defines Irony


 

It’s amazing the weird shit that sticks in your brain.

Do you remember back in 2002 when MTV did “24 Hours of Love” and had Courtney Love host for a day? No? Well, you shouldn’t. It probably sucked. I don’t really remember it. I only refreshed my memory while looking for a certain clip from it on YouTube. I couldn’t find the clip so you’ll just have to trust me that I saw what I saw.

If you look on YouTube for “Courtney Love Hosting 24 Hours of Love (4/9)” you’ll notice that it starts with a scene from Almost Famous. This seems strange, but when you remember that in 1970 recording artists weren’t making music videos it all comes into focus. See, something that was left out of part 3/9 was Love introducing the song “Tiny Dancer” they played in the  scene from Almost Famous. 

What stuck in my mind wasn’t that Courtney Love is an Elton John fan. It’d be stranger if she wasn’t. What stuck in my head was her introduction of the song. She said that “Tiny Dancer” was one of her favorite Elton John songs. And that another one of her favorites was “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

 

If you’re an Elton John fan you know that Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is a biographical album. All the songs are based on events from his own life. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is about a woman that John almost married when he was young, but his friends managed to talk him out of it.

Think about that for a minute. One of Courtney Love’s favorite Elton John songs is the one about the guy who didn’t marry the wrong girl.

Another thing that has stuck in my mind on the subject is an interview with an ex-boyfriend of Courtney Love’s in the “Kurt and Courtney” Documentary. The part that really stuck out to me in this movie comes at about the 34 minute mark where he says he would have ended up just like Kurt Cobain if he’d stayed with her.

maslow-pyramidSomething I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You may have seen it in a psychology class. Food, water and shelter are on the bottom of the pyramid. The next level is safety and security. Then above that is love and acceptance. Studying this has helped to enlighten me as to why a woman would stay with her abusive husband. The need for love and belonging can be strong enough to overpower the need for safety and security. In anorexia it can be strong enough to overpower the need for food.

But isn’t it crazy to think that someone who was the most famous musician on the planet and adored by millions of fans would have a deficiency of love and belonging?

I don’t want to fuel any speculation that Kurt Cobain’s death was a murder. There are plenty of people out there already doing that. It really doesn’t make much difference at the moment. He’s gone and we’ll never know what could have been if someone had saved his life that night.

Maybe the next time the surviving members of Nirvana record an album with a knighted English pop star they could call the track “Boy, We Really Screwed The Pooch On That One.”