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.

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GWAR @ The Agora


GWAR Agora 11/8/20158 November 2015

The Agora Theater; Cleveland, OH

Demons Within, Solipsist, Battlecross, GWAR

There were two reasons I felt this show was a must-see: 1) I needed to see how the band had weathered the passing of longtime vocalist/front man, Oderus Urungus and 2) GWAR fucking rocks and I was sure it would take more of an effort for them to put on a shitty show than it would for them to give a great performance. I wasn’t sure what to expect without Oderus, he seemed to be the glue that held everyone together. All I really wanted was some blood, gore, celebrity dismemberment and fun. I did not leave disappointed.

The opening acts had several things working against them. For one, I’m not a huge fan of death/black/speed metal. I realize now that there may be a speed limit to my musical tastes. Anything faster than 120 BPM sounds like mush to my ears. As always there are exceptions to this rule, but speed isn’t really something that impresses me much. The other thing working against all of these talented, hardworking musicians is that they were opening for GWAR! I don’t want to see you wankers! Get off the stage so GWAR can come on!

Demons Within were a last minute addition to replace the cancelled Born of Osiris. I think they may have been the fastest band of the night. It wasn’t really music you could bang your head to, but more like music to have a seizure to. The did have the best lead guitar acrobatics of any local band I’ve ever seen.

I swear, Richard O'Brien is the bass player for Battlecross.

I swear, Richard O’Brien is the bass player for Battlecross.

Solipsist is another local band that is brutally metal as fuck. Listening to them was like getting hit in the head with a sack of rocks. Something strange about heavy-speed metal is that the more I listen to it, the more I understand and appreciate it; and their set closer was by far their best song.

Battlecross are another group that break my BPM speed limit, but they manage to put some pretty awesome grooves into their music. It’s fast as hell, but it has a nice beat and you can dance to it. They get bonus points for having Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show playing bass for them. I wondered what happened to that guy.

Then is was time to put away the appetizers and move on to the main course. A brief intro introduced us to ‘The new and improved GWAR,’ two guys in costumes doing a dance version of ‘Sick of You.’ They only made it to the breakdown before the real GWAR entered and slaughtered them to “Crush, Kill, Destroy.”

Now, I had planned on staying toward the back of the theater and watching from a comfortable, dry spot. I’ve “seen” GWAR twice before on the Sounds of the Underground tours, but I was always so close to the stage that I was constantly getting sprayed in the face with spew and could barely hear any of the songs. This time I wanted to actually watch the performance. I even wore a new shirt and my leather jacket to dissuade me from traveling up front. This all went out the door when they started “Saddam A Go-Go.” I rushed up front and hopped in the pit. By the end of the show it looked like I had egg yolk all over my face and I was very, very pleased.

 

The best part was that the performance was like a play. They played a lot tunes from their catalog and also performed as actors. The set-up came when their manager tells them that the internet is saying bad things about them. He tells them that they need to kill the internet it they want more crack. So they visit several sites (SpewTube, Kinder (like tinder but for child molesters), and Instagram (where they buy several grams of crack instantly)) and then kill the people associated with these sites. After proclaiming their mastery and defeating their foe, Balsac gave a warm, moving speech about how we could now enjoy life and no longer had to serve our digital overlord that had been enslaving us. Or something like that, I was thinking about what I was going to write in this blog.

I've seen a lot of bands dedicate albums to the memories of fallen musicians, but these guys names a star after their friend. What a bunch of saps!

I’ve seen a lot of bands dedicate albums to fallen musicians, but these guys named a star after their friend. What a bunch of saps!

They very rarely broke the fourth wall. The only time I can remember them doing that was to lead us in a chant for “the best rock and roll singer to walk this or any other planet” O-DER-US. You know, for a bunch of intergalactic warriors who make their living slaughtering humans for entertainment, GWAR are some sentimental fucks.

There were quite a few song that I didn’t recognize. I’m sure some may have been new and others might have come from albums I’m not that familiar with, but the set was great. “Babyraper,” “Meat Sandwich” and “I, Bonesnapper” all made the cut. Hillary Clinton and Kanye West emerged only to be slaughtered during “Salamanizer” and they closed the set with “Sick of You.” My only complaint was the omission of anything from America Must Be Destroyed. I can understand they were focusing on songs that Blothar could sing well, (seeing as how he is very different from Oderus) and can understand excluding something like “Have You Seen Me?”, but I’ve really been digging on “The Road Behind” lately and loved the parts Blothar sang (as Beefcake) back in the day.

Photo by Jon Lichtenberg. Click image for more.

Photo by Jon Lichtenberg. Click image for more.

I’m still digesting everything I saw on Sunday, but I know I didn’t see the death throes of GWAR. Maybe I just say this because I’m such a huge fan and think they’re the best band in the world at what they do, but I’m pretty sure those who are writing them off are going to end up eating their words. Just like critics of AC/DC and Alice in Chains. The good news is that if you haven’t seen GWAR yet in your lifetime it’s still not too late.

 

The Smashing Pumpkins “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”


Smashing_Pumpkins_-_Mellon_Collie_And_The_Infinite_Sadness(24 October 1995, Virgin)

It’s weird to think that twenty years ago The Smashing Pumpkins were the biggest rock band in the world and my personal favorite.

What the hell happened?

It should be noted that I now believe double albums are a little overblown and self-indulgent. Aside from The Wall and The Beatles I can’t think of a double album that couldn’t be cut down to one disc and have been better for it (It should be noted that because Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Exile on Main Street fit onto one CD they aren’t doubles in my book). But even considering other grunge-era doubles from NIN and Jerry Cantrell, Mellon Collie comes across as excessively flatulent.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great shit on here. But there’s also some total shit. I appreciate that they (by that I mean Billy Corgan) were trying to branch out and explore new sounds, but this would have been so much better if it were a single album. They could have easily cut the fat and had one of the best albums of the decade. Instead… well.

Disc 1, “Dawn to Dusk,” starts out strong with a string of hit singles. “Tonight, Tonight” is an epic song with strings and one of the greatest music videos of all time. “Zero” blew my mind when I first heard it. I don’t think I’d ever heard a guitar riff comprised entirely of octaves, harmonics and a ton of distortion. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is still a classic as it’s easy to sing along to and deals with that feeling of helplessness we all get from time to time. And scattered among these songs are some other great tracks. The title-track opener was always a favorite. I’m a sucker for piano and something about opening the album with an piano interlude always struck me as fitting. “Jellybean” is a great fuzzed out rocker and “Here is No Why” has always reminded me of “Ziggy Stardust.” The riffs are a little similar.

And then “To Forgive” stops the rock train in it’s tracks. I remember liking that song as a teenager, but now it just sounds wimpy and bland to me. There are a few good songs on second half of the first disc. “Muzzle” and “Love” are solid. “Porcelina of the Vast Ocean” would be a great tune if it was shorter than 9:20. Some bands can pull off a song that long and keep it interesting, The Smashing Pumpkins aren’t one of them.

It’s interesting to note that among this mostly great disc appears the biggest, steaming-pile-of-shit song to ever appear on a rock record. I defy you to bring me a song worse than “Cupid de Locke.” I know you’re going to try and I’m sure there are a few contenders out there, but I just really think that this is the worst rock song of all time. Definitely the worst of the 90s.

 

Normally with a double album I may have to break the review into two parts. But this isn’t necessary with Mellon Collie as disc 2, “Twilight to Starlight,” is at best completely forgettable. And at worst, you remember how bad it sucks. There are a few good tracks. Opener “Where The Boys Fear To Tread” has some great guitar riffs, but no hooks or chorus. “Bodies” and “Through The Eyes of Ruby” are both pretty solid songs. “1979” was their biggest hit and is still a staple on rock radio, but it’s not really a good time rocker. “Stumbleine” is a decent acoustic piece.

What’s interesting is that until listening to this album for the review I couldn’t remember anything from the last 3 tracks. And I’m guessing I’ll forget all about them by the time this is published. The band shows signs of life on “X.Y.U.” where they try heavy metal, but they don’t really pull it off. They should stick with hard rock because Corgan’s whiny voice doesn’t sound good when pushed to the breaking point. And what the hell is with “Thirty-Three”? I’m actually embarrassed that the song was a hit single. Now I know how people who lived through the disco era felt.

The Smashing Pumpkins 1995The most amazing thing about this album is that it was a high water mark for the Pumpkins. It was all downhill from here. They fired this album’s MVP, drummer Jimmy Chamberlain (all because of one OD and one dead touring keyboardist), and their next album Adore was completely forgettable. They still haven’t recovered, but Billy Corgan doesn’t believe that.

If you were lucky enough to not have bought this album yet, don’t.

Garbage – Self Titled


garbage15 August 1995, Almo Records

A little while ago I stopped by my baby mama’s house after work and still had my headphones from my new MP3 player hanging out of my shirt. Being 6 years old, her niece was really interested in this new mechanical device and insisted on listening to it. Being the nice uncle I am I obliged.

But I was left with a dilemma. What music did I have on my MP3 player that she would enjoy? I knew she was a fan of female singers like Ariana Grande, but I didn’t have anything like that on the gadget. If memory serves I only had 2 female fronted acts on my MP3 player at the time. One being The Pretty Reckless and the other being Garbage. I’m not sure Shirley Manson would make a perfect role model for a 6 year old, I’m sure she’s better than Taylor Momsen (and probably Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and a plethora of other slut-pop superstars). I also figured she would like the melodies and message of songs like “When I Grow Up” and “Cherry Lips.” So I cued up Garbage and let her listen. She seemed to really enjoy it.

A few weeks later she asked to listen to my MP3 player again. I asked, “Oh, would you like to listen to Garbage again?” She looked at me as seriously as only a 6 year old can be and told me “I’m not allowed to listen to garbage.”

This gave me a good chuckle. Especially since her mother’s and my idea of garbage are sure to be very different.

 

I always wondered why Garbage wasn’t a bigger band than they were. But then I checked on Wikipedia and found out they were huge. I guess I was misled by the cheap ticket prices when I saw them at the House of Blues and their absence on rock radio. It also seems like their nestled somewhere between industrial, grunge and bubblegum pop, which is a very precarious place to be. But they have sold millions of albums and recorder the theme for a James Bond flick.

And they had a string of really, really great hits on their debut. “VOW” is one of my favorites. I’m so used to it being the opening track on Absolute Garbage that I can’t get into “Supervixen” (which is a good song, but has verses that are a little too quiet).

“Only Happy When It Rains” is a great upbeat rocker that makes it difficult to sit still. “Stupid Girl” uses some simple drums and guitar to maximum catchiness, and “Queer” is close to the top of my list of sexiest songs ever recorded.

 

And then a lot of the songs that I’ve never heard are just as awesome. “Not My Idea,” “Dog’s New Tricks” and “My Lover’s Box” rock just as hard as anything else on the album. It’s the kind of music you’d expect of a post-grunge project featuring the producer of Nevermind and Siamese Dream.  

But some of it is filler. “As Heaven Is Wide” and “A Stroke of Luck” both rely a bit too much on drum machines and distorted guitar noise for my taste. For the life of me I can’t figure out why the album closer “Milk” was chosen as a single. I really don’t care for that song.

Of course, all the songs that I don’t like on this album are ballads; so maybe if you give it a spin yourself you’ll feel differently. It’s well worth a listen.

 

For more Platinum Anniversary Albums:

Foo Fighters – Self Titled

Clutch – Self Titled

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “The Crow”

Marilyn Manson- Portrait of an American Family

Weezer – The Blue Album

Soundgarden – Superunknown

Nine Inch Nails “With Teeth”


Nine_Inch_Nails_With_Teeth_Standard(3 May 2005/ Nothing, Interscope)

[Halo 19]

I can still remember the first time I heard With Teeth because I made it to one of the listening parties held before the album came out. It seems kind of silly today that we hopped in the car and drove 90 miles to listen to a record at a concert venue, but after the six year wait since The Fragile and the fact that there really wasn’t much else to do it makes perfect sense. It doesn’t seem like doing that kind of promotion would be successful now that we have Pandora, Spotify, Last FM and who knows how many other venues for artists to get their music out there, but if there was another chance today I’d probably go. It’s fun to get out and be around like minded people with similar tastes in music.

The other thing I’ve taken away from that listening party is the first time I heard “All The Love In The World.” It’s a quiet track at the beginning; mostly just bass and turntables. But when the line “No one’s heard a single word I’ve said” came on I had to laugh because it was the first line I was able to make out. Of course, the song picks up speed with percussion, guitars and layered, double tracked vocals, but even a decade later I still remember that.

If you ask me, this is the last really good Nine Inch Nails album. Every other song on it is a masterpiece and the ones in between aren’t chopped liver either. “You Know What You Are?” features some of the patented Reznor rage with him screaming “Don’t you fucking know what you are?” The first single, “The Hand That Feeds,” was the first time I’d heard NIN take on outside problems instead of the crippling depression and self loathing that characterized the first three albums.

 

My favorite track is definitely “Everyday Is Exactly The Same.” I guess something about the song really appealed to me (and still does) as a lower-middle-class drone tirelessly plugging away 40 hours a week. The awesome bass line is another major draw. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen the video before embedding it in this post, but I suppose the fact that it is really dull and features a subquality mix of the song explains my missing it. “Only” is a synthy pseudo-rap with some insane drums and a singalong chorus. I’m sure the David Fincher directed video didn’t hurt it’s popularity.

I still like all of the other tunes on the album, but these 4 have always been my favorites. Probably because they’re more upbeat and rocking than some of the other songs. The best thing about With Teeth as opposed to other NIN albums is that with Dave Grohl’s involvement and the copious use of guitar and bass it sounds more like a real band. I don’t mean to suggest that masterpieces such as Broken or The Downward Spiral were made by a pretend band, but With Teeth sounds a lot less like it was created by one guy in a little studio.

Another favorite aspect of the album is when the songs reference back to earlier works. “Only” features the lyrics “Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye…” echoing a similar line in Pretty Hate Machine‘s “Down In It.” “Sunspots” has Reznor saying “nothing can stop me now” from The Downward Spiral.

With Teeth Reznor PictureI’m still up in the air as to whether “Right Where It Belongs” is a better album closer than “Hurt.” I suppose it would be best to say they were both perfect closers for their respective albums. “Right Where It Belongs” is definitely in my top 5 NIN’s songs. Something about Trent Reznor at a keyboard with a simple melody and a simple lyric is better to me than all of the bells and whistles (and arranging, performance, production, engineering, 5.1 surround mix, sound design, all instrumentals & instrumentation) all over the rest of the album.

Maybe there are so many great closers to NIN albums because Reznor knows that in the end – it’s all about the song.

MP3 Player Review


SanDisk Clip Sport SanDisk Clip Sport 8GB MP3 Player Blue SDMX24008GA46B

Being a factory worker, an MP3 player is a necessity. I do have days when I stay busy enough to never turn it on, but it’s usually on nearly nonstop. Not that I don’t like my job; it’s often challenging and rarely overwhelming. Yet as with any factory job I spend a lot of time doing mindless tasks over and over and over and over. I had to buy a new MP3 player because my old one broke. This makes number three in 2 1/2 years… I hope I don’t write another review anytime soon.

Really, the last player I had didn’t die. It was a Coby and I thought it was a good MP3 player, but the Achilles Heel was it’s battery life. That thing could only hold a charge for about 4 hours. Seeing as how the normal workday is 8 hours this was a major pain in the ass. Now that I have this SanDisk Clip the battery never seems to go dead. Instead of charging it everyday when I get home (only to run out of juice halfway through my shift) I charge it on the weekends.

The SanDisk definitely beats the Coby on size. It’s much smaller (and cuter) plus has a great clip so I can stick it on my pocket instead of in my pocket. I do have a problem with bumping it on boxes and skipping to the next song though.

It also has a much better radio receiver. With the old one I couldn’t get any radio. With this new one I can pick up the radio station a half mile from where I work. They only play country, but it’s helpful if I feel like getting some news or hearing what schools are closed.

digital musicThere are a few things I miss about the Coby. One is that the music was organized chronologically by when I loaded it to the player. I found this helpful for keeping the listening selection fresh. Every week I would delete the oldest album or two and and add another one or two. Now I have my music organized alphabetically so I just have to wait until I get bored with something. I haven’t run out of space yet, but I’m sure I’ll eventually have to come up with a system to clear up room when I want to add new music. It is nice that I won’t have to delete albums by The Ramones, Weezer or Queens of the Stone Age just to send them back in the queue. I can just leave those bands on there until the end of time.

The other advantage the Coby had over this SanDisk was that I could shut off shuffle at any time. Usually I listen to music on random; much like the radio but without commercials. Every now and again I get the urge to just listen to an album though, when this happens now I have to go back to the main menu and select that album instead of just pulling down a little screen and turning off shuffle. I also don’t care for the way when I hit next it goes to a random track instead of the next song on the album. Sure, I’m getting sick of that particular song by Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but I haven’t heard the next track on that album for a while and I wouldn’t mind giving it a listen.

When I read that preceding paragraph I really want to give it the hash-tag #firstworldproblems. But hey, this is a review of my new MP3 player. Maybe someone could recommend one more to my preferences or I’ll inspire someone to design one.

I suppose I could also check the settings or read the manual.

Nah.

You’re Too Young To Remember Them


There are things I hate to hear. “You have to work this weekend,” is one of them. “Is it in yet?” is another.

But the thing I hate to hear more than anything else is “You’re too young to remember that band.”

Sure, I was born in 1983 so I never had the chance of listening to John Lennon, John Bonham, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Robert Johnson or a plethora of other musicians with ‘J’ names while they were still alive; but we still have recording technology.

No, I'm not going to play Slayer. Stop yelling that.

No, I’m not going to play Slayer. Stop yelling that.

Every time someone says “You’re too young to know that band,” I want to explain to them how a CD works. But I don’t really know how a CD works… something about a laser and don’t get scratches on the silver side. But there were still cassette tapes before them. And reel to reels, vinyl records, 8 tracks and Dictaphones.

As of this writing the oldest person in the world was born in 1898. That’s 21 years after Thomas Edison patented the Phonograph Cylinder. So ever that 116 year old Japanese woman can’t look down on the second oldest person and say “You’re too young to remember that.”

I’m sure there are some artists who never got to record, but thanks to technology I can enjoy music from Gene Ammons (1925-1974), Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) and even Eve 6 (1995-2004, 2007- Present)

So don’t tell me I’m to young to have heard Led Zeppelin or Dr. Hook you old drunk!

Whoops!


You’d think that a guy who writes a music blog would be an expert in music, but you’d be surprised. I’ve spent most of my life believing I was a fan of Industrial Music. I love bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein. I also enjoy, to a lesser degree, KMFDM, Skinny Puppy, Lords of Acid, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and others of the same persuasion.

Of course a lot of this has to do with my personal interpretation of what industrial is. If you ask me for my definition I will tell you this:

This to me defines Industrial Music. The main thing is the noises in the background that sound like hydraulic pumps, but there is also the guitar tone. To me industrial doesn’t just conjure up the thought of music, but also cul-de-sacs on the outskirts of towns filled with factories. I’ve always thought of industrial through bands like NIN, Ministry and Fear Factory and the rhythms of the machines I run at work.

I’ve been aware that there were opposing views for a while, but those views were never more apparent than at the Cleveland Music Fest 2013’s Goth/Industrial night. Most bands eschewed the idea that Industrial is a sub-genre of rock or metal and instead found it to be a sub-genre of techno (or electronic dance music if you want to be a dick about it).

You know, I can’t argue about which view is right or which is wrong. I’ll be happy to step back and say I’m more a fan of rock with electronic elements. I tend to think of rock bands as composed of vocals, guitar, bass and drums. If you want to throw a keyboard or saxophone in there I’m fine with it, but I don’t understand the idea that a person programming a lot of noises into a computer and then singing over it on a stage constitutes performance. I guess I’m a bit of a purist there, but it seems to me like the lower the chances of a mistake the more life you take out of a performance. If your band is just drum machines and keyboard loops coming out of a PC I find it extremely hard to take it seriously. At a certain point it just becomes DIY karaoke and I don’t know if I’m supposed to take ecstasy and rave or mosh.

I like Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin, but I can’t tell the difference between Ambient, House, Acid House, Trance, Breakbeat, Drum and Bass, Industrial or any of the other countless styles of techno.

No, I don’t know what the hell Dubstep sounds like and I don’t know it when I hear it. This

Apparently now you're considered a musician to play the mixer.

Apparently now you’re considered a musician if you play the mixer.

may have quite a bit to do with me not actually caring so please stop trying to explain it to me. When it comes to dubstep I feel like an old man hearing Elvis in the ’50’s. It’s all noise to me and I’m sure it will all be a passing phase.

ALSO

I keep referring to a band from Cleveland called VENT as ‘Hardcore.’ This term may have been correctly used to describe them in the late 80’s/early 90’s when bands like Suicidal tendencies, Bad Brains and Corrosion of Conformity were considered Hardcore. Now the term requires the modifier “punk” after it (Hardcore Punk) so as not to confuse it with a genre or music featuring metalcore, skacore,emocore and numerous other -core styles as well as bands like Every Time I Dies, Bleeding Through, Atreyu and As I Lay Dying and seems like a bit of an insult to me.

Sorry guys.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy Goggles Optional or Industrial Solstice, but probably not.

High Fidelity in the Age of Spotify


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I’m of the mindset that to be a good blogger you have to read good blogs. I try to do this and think I do a good job. The best part is that every now and again I’ll come across a blog that inspires me to write my own post, like this one that the Dead Kennedy’s shared a few weeks ago on Facebook (http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/music-experiences-you-never-thought-youd-miss-but-you-do).

It got me thinking about life, the universe and everything. But then I stopped and started to think about what’s happening to the physical CD stores now that everyone is so madly in love with Spotify. What would the film “High Fidelity” be like if made in 2013?

I know the main way Spotify has changed my record buying habits is to make me much, much pickier. I can guarantee I would have bought Soundgarden’s “King Animal” if it weren’t for Spotify. I was teetering on Staind’s self-titled 2011 release because “Not Again” was an awesome tune, but after listening to the entire album I decided it wasn’t worth the money. And I’m sure Spotify would have saved me a lot of money if I’d been able to listen to albums by bands like Our Lady Peace and Default before I bought them. Sure, that one Earshot song was bad ass, but the entire album sounded exactly the same and it got boring really quick.

Of course, if it weren’t for Spotify I never would have bought In This Moment’s “Blood,” an album that I’m extremely pleased with and still enjoy. Then again, I downloaded it from Amazon so that sort of skips the High Fidelity aspect of the experience. But it was that, Walmart or FYE in the mall. My choices are limited and though I may not have chosen the least of three evils, I did choose the cheapest.

Vintage-Records (1)I’m sure that all of these technological breakthroughs are hurting the sales of physical CD’s, but I doubt that it’s doing more damage than the opening of public libraries did to bookstores. I’m sure there will always be a market for the items, but just like I don’t buy every new book that comes out, I no longer have to purchase every album I want to listen to. I still buy albums by my favorite bands like GWAR, Alice in Chains and Fiona Apple (and have a friend that buys EVERYTHING from Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Bad Religion and NOFX), but why waste money on something I only casually listen to.

There are still ways to get people to buy an album. I’m not sure if people realize what they are, but to me they’re common sense.

  1. Be original. Or be another Faith No More. Either way, you have a market because you’re unique.
  2. Be Shuffle/Mixtape friendly. I love albums, but I’ve been listening to all sorts of stuff thanks to shuffle on my MP3 player.
  3. Be Identifiable. Make it so people know their listening to you without them having to check.
  4. Bribe college professors to make your album required listening. If college kids have to buy your album from the campus bookstore you’re definitely going to make a lot of money.
  5. Make sure you don’t have all your songs available for free download on Soundcloud or Reverbnation because if you do I’ll never buy your album from Bandcamp.

I’m not sure what will happen to one hit wonders in this future age of Spotify and browse before you buy. I’ll never buy another UPO or Catherine Wheel disc, and I’m glad that I no longer have to buy CD’s from bands at shows and can instead just check out their Facebook and maybe buy an album from Bandcamp.

I just hope there aren’t a bunch of future Justin Beiber’s and Miley Cyrus’s that keep acting kooky and somehow get people to pay attention to them despite (or perhaps because of) their horrible music. Sure, I’m guilty of having the hots for Miley, but I didn’t buy her album.

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If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy “Thoughts on the Digital Music Revolution.”