The Downside of Welding


For as awful as 2016 was, 2017 is starting off really great. I haven’t been posting as regularly or started my novel, but that’s because I started writing part-time for a local weekly magazine.

And my day job has gotten better as well. I’ve moved up from ‘unskilled labor’ to ‘maintenance apprentice.’ I’m extremely excited about this move. I’ve always wanted to learn a useful skill and now I finally have the chance. It sucks having to work second shift, but it’s a great opportunity and they’re paying for me to go to school.

The only problem with learning to weld?

Every time I spark a stick I get this song stuck in my head.

 

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Sucker Punch”


sucker punch(22 March 2011, WaterTower Music )

I won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of this movie. It did fly under the radar, but if you took the time to check it out you were in for a treat

Sucker Punch was directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and starred Emily Browning (Pompeii, Legend) and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, X-Men: Apocalypse). Essentially the movie is a live-action anime. There is a plot, but it’s not important. What really brought the film together were the glorious, special-effects driven battle scenes with giant samurai, steampunk Nazis and dragons. In my humble opinion, there’s nothing better than scantily clad women battling dragons.

Of course, none of those fight scenes would be worth a damn without the proper musical accompaniment. The Sucker Punch soundtrack is not John Williams or Hans Zimmer, but it ranks among the greatest film soundtracks of all time in my book.

It’s brilliance is in how it takes familiar songs and gives them a new spin. Instead of making a mix tape of b-sides from popular artists , producers Tyler Bates and Marius de Vries take old songs and have trip-hop acts cover them. This gives continuity to a seemingly random collection of tracks and makes them flow seamlessly from one to another.

Star Emily Browning sings three tracks. Opener “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” is my least favorite version of that song, but considering the other two versions are so damn awesome that’s not really an insult. It’s still worth checking out. She also does a cover of the Smiths’ “Asleep” which isn’t bad, but I can live without it.

There’s only one Bjork song I recognize. “Army of Me” is a brilliant track and the Sucker Punch remix takes all the crazy screeches and Yoko Ono-isms and makes it truly stellar. The song works great on its own, but listening to this version it’s apparent it was used in a film. I’ve never heard of Emiliana Torrini, but I love her version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” It runs a little long, but when something sounds that good you make exceptions. The best part is the opening guitar riff played note for note on an organ.

Skunk Anansie turns in the best version of “Search and Destroy” I’ve ever heard. I expect it may be the best version of that song I ever will hear. This should be the definitive version that’s required listening for all aspiring punks. I’m sure it’s sacrilegious, but I’ve never cared much for the Stooges. Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden have turned in lukewarm versions of the song but Skunk Anansie are the ones to tap into the primal nature and transform it to the monster I knew it could be.

(Make sure your socks are on tight as this has the potential to knock them off. You’ve been warned.)

Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino close the album with a cover of Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug.” I wasn’t familiar with this song at all before seeing the movie. I was surprised to discover that it’s a cover and wasn’t composed for the film because it fits so well.

Now that I look back at the track list I’m surprised that there are so many songs I don’t like. Alison Mosshart and Carla Azar turn in a performance of “Tomorrow Never Knows” that isn’t bad, but doesn’t do anything different than the original. There’s something called “I Want It All / We Will Rock You Mash-Up (Queen cover)” right in the middle that is truly terrible. I’m sure fans of hip-hop and Queen will enjoy it, but my love of Queen isn’t strong enough to override my distaste for hip-hop.

The last song Emily Browning sings on is a cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” with Yoav. This is the most disappointing track on the album. Somehow they manage to take an awesome song with great musicians performing and it still manages to fall flat. I guess they can’t all be zingers.

ws_sucker_punch_1920x1440Now that I really examine this album I’m surprised to discover that I really only enjoy about half of the songs. But it’s a testament to how fucking awesome those tracks are that I didn’t even realize I didn’t like the rest of the album until I sat down to write a review.

Even if you fast forward through the boring parts like you used to do with VHS porno tapes, Sucker Punch is a film worth watching. It’s a classic in the same vein as Queen of the Damned or Escape from LA. 

Otep “Generation Doom”


Otep Generation Doom cover(15 April 2016, Napalm Records)

At The ANC my single-serving friend confessed that he had never heard the music of Otep. It was too easy for me to describe them. “They’re basically a rap-metal band fronted by a really angry lesbian.” And I stand by that statement. To me that sums up the group in twelve words.

It’s also the reason I haven’t listened to them much since their debut Sevas Tra in 2002. It’s not the lesbian part. I love lesbians, just check out my porn collection. And I don’t really mind the angry part. The passion Otep has for her work is what interested me in the first place.

It’s the rap metal part. That is not a genre that has aged well. To be honest, there are a few bands who are considered nu-metal that I still enjoy (Korn, Mudvayne, Kittie, Coal Chamber), but there are many more that I feel have long outstayed their welcome (Again we include Korn, Linkin Park, Mushroomhead, System of a Down). And let’s not even try to name all of the ones that were awful from the beginning (Crazy Town, Limp Bizkit, Saliva).

This was my generations first gift to the world…

…Just let me take a moment to apologize for that.

OK, Now that that’s done with let me point out that a few nu-metal bands have actually managed to stay slightly relevant by doing what all good musicians do: evolve. Korn has branched out into EDM and did MTV Unplugged. Mudvayne ditched the makeup and just kept writing head-spinning prog riffs. And the girls from Kittie to the time to learn to play their instruments well.

In this respect, Otep was a little late to the party. I did like the song “Apex Predator” from her last album, but on the whole I haven’t heard anything worth buying for 14 years. Well, until I started listening to Generation Doom.

That’s not to say that Generation Doom won’t appeal to those fans who still enjoy nu-metal. The album starts off with the “I don’t give a fuck” anthem “Zero” and still has a ton of heavy riffage under rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. “Lords of War” is another standout with it’s chorus of:

Her guitar player looks like Glenn Danzig ate Marvin the Martian

Her guitar player looks like Glenn Danzig ate Marvin the Martian

“I’d rather be in battle than at peace
I’d rather be a wolf than a sheep
I’d rather be in battle than slaughtered like cattle
The weak can sleep while”

The band gets bonus points for the split second pause that makes you think the CD is skipping. That’s a technique not heard nearly enough in today’s music.

Then you’re in store for something I’ve never heard before. Otep actually sings on their cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” There’s still plenty of rapping and screaming, which we’ve all come to expect, but the real stand-outs to my ears on this album are the ballads like “In Cold Blood” and “Lie.” I feel bad that some little filly broke her heart, but it’s given us some of the best work of her career. Nu-metal always had a short half life, but it’s nice to see that a few of the artists were talented and versatile enough to continue making good music. Who knows, perhaps these songs are timeless enough that some day I’ll put on this album for solace after a breakup.

Now if you’ve been paying attention to this blog for a little bit you may know that my problem with nu-metal was never the metal – it was always the rap. I’ve dabbled in hip-hop music over my life and there have been a few artists/songs that I’ve enjoyed, but on the whole I’ve never considered myself a fan of the genre. Aside from a near lack of guitar or any other prominent musical instrument aside from the drum machine, I’ve always been a little turned off by the rampant braggadocio and misogyny.

So it’s a little surprising that my favorite track on this album is the one with the line “I’ll always get more pussy than you.” I don’t know, I guess a lesbian singing about stealing the wife of a homophobe just has a certain appeal for me. I’ve never been against the gay agenda. I don’t even understand the political issue concerning homosexuals. I don’t really feel that Otep is a threat to my masculinity. I find the opening line of “He called me a dyke, I called him an ambulance” hilarious.

But maybe I just really like the anger.

Marilyn Manson “Antichrist Superstar”


antichrist_superstar_4170(8 October 1996, Nothing/Interscope)

There’s something I like to call the “Smoke on the Water Principal (SWP).” You see, as a songwriter I’ve always found it a lot easier to write a more-elaborate-than-necessary guitar riff, jam packed with odd chords and enough hammer-ons and pull-offs to make your head spin than to write a simple, catchy riff. The main riff to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” is the perfect example of an accomplished musician opting to play something so simple that anyone who picks up a guitar can master it in about three tries, but it’s also one of the most memorable pieces of music written in the past 50 years. Some of the greatest guitar riffs in history have utilized the SWP, even if they didn’t know it. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Paranoid” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” are all prime examples.

And so is the biggest hit of Marilyn Manson’s career “The Beautiful People.”

Antichrist Superstar is a sloppy mess of an album, but that’s part of it’s appeal. It’s strange that something produced by Trent Reznor contains so much feedback and noise, but much like The Downward Spiral it serves as a record of the band at the time.

The only live opener on a studio album that I know of is “Irresponsible Hate Anthem.” I’m not sure if they couldn’t get the sound they wanted in the studio or if they ran out of time and had to pull out a live recording. Either way, it works. The only problem I have with it is the notes say it was recorded on Valentine’s Day 1997, six months after the album came out. Do I have a new pressing? Was this a typo? The world may never know.

“Tied Up, Dried Up and Dead to the World” sounds like Korn to my ears. Not so much the chorus but the ending part with the chugga-chugga-chugga squeal. That’s something I’ve heard in just about every Korn song ever. “Tourniquet” was always one of my favorites. I’m a sucker for those simple riffs with long bends. It’s like “Interstate Love Song,” but way, way darker.

 

The middle portion of the album is where things start to drag. There are a few gems in there. “Little Horn,” “Mister Superstar” and “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” are all decent rockers, but some of the stuff just seems half finished. This is one of those instances of artistic ambitions getting in the way of just making a good album.

But then the third cycle really knocks it out of the park. “Antichrist Superstar” is perhaps the strongest on the album. Drop D chords mesh with crowd cheers to make you feel like your at a Nazi rally. “1996” is great in spite of (or perhaps because of) it’s poor production. It all sounds live in the studio complete with a guitar being smashed at the end. “Minute of Decay” is the one song on the album written completely by Manson. The simple bass line and distorted guitars have always made this a favorite of mine. Plus, it’s the one place you can tell that he really does have a great voice.

“Your world is an ashtray,” is a line that’s been repeating in my head for a few days now. “The Reflecting God” may be the heaviest thing on this album. Is has a frenetic bass line that smashes into the three-chord chorus and really makes me want to smash something. I think that’s about all you can ask from a good heavy metal song. Yet again they use live material for the third pre-chorus and it makes the song that much more intense.

Antichrist Superstar Back CoverI can still remember when the Shirley Jackson inspired video for “Man That You Fear” premiered on MTV and I watched it about seven times. It’s a great closer. The slow track floats along with Reznor playing piano and ends with Manson’s distorted voice saying “When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”

Yes, Antichrist Superstar is a hectic, dis-joined and messy album. I can’t help but wonder what it would have sounded like if they’d spent less time snorting cocaine and destroying equipment and more time writing songs and practicing. But it stands as a portrait of what the band was like when they were young, hungry and had something to prove to the world and that’s something we’ll never hear from Marilyn Manson again.

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.

New Music Roundup Part 2


Fisher-Price Little People Animal Songs Sing-A-LongI’ve seen a few posts where people list the music they’ve bought and give a little commentary on it. I find these posts pretty interesting so I thought I’d try my hand at it. I was hoping to make this a twice yearly thing, but blame the state of the music industry for not putting out anything good for me to buy.

*This list does not include anything I have borrowed from the library and ripped to my computer.

13 June 2015 (Walmart New Philadelphia, OH)

Fisher-Price Little People – Animal Songs Sing-Along     $13

Nobody told me how different my music buying habits would change when I had a child, but I can’t expect her to enjoy GWAR or Acid Bath the way I do so I had to buy her something for long car rides. All joking aside though the guitar solo on “The Farmer in the Dell” is pretty bad ass and the drums possess a great laid-back Ringo quality.

 

29 June (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions      $2.50

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Automatic            $2.50

I bought the Roadrunner United album when it first came out, but lost it somewhere along the way. It’s a really unique album where the label tapped four musicians to be team captains who led 57 artists from 45 past and present Roadrunner bands and produced the album. It’s definitely a one of a kind album and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to satisfy a metal craving.

I completely forgot about the Jesus and Mary Chain album. I think I still have it…

 

Greatest Shit9 July (Amazon.com)

KMFDM: Greatest Shit   $17.49

Finntroll: Blodsvept         $8.99

I picked up the KMFDM album after seeing En Esch last year and I hate to just get one album at a time so I grabbed the next thing on my wish list.

 

25 Oct (FYE, New Towne Mall New Philadelphia, OH)

Alice in Chains – Live & Unreleased  $3.99

Nirvana – Unplugged in New York     $5

Unplugged in New York was a replacement. My copy was scratched to hell. I grabbed the Live & Unreleased promo disc and was quickly disappointed when I realized it was song that were released later on their Live album. I’ll have to put it on eBay to get some other poor sucker.

 

GWAR-Scumdogs-of-the-UniverseI went on a bit of a GWAR kick after seeing them live last November. My collection isn’t complete yet, but I’m getting pretty close.

10 Nov (Amazon.com)

GWAR – RagNaRok  $8.35

11 Nov (Ebay.com ( jnientertainment ( 17042 ))

GWAR – Carnival of Chaos  $7.34

 

14 Nov (Ebay.com (swmcom11 ( 267 ))

GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe – $20.74

 

The Best of Mozart6 Dec (Browse & Buy Resale Shop New Philadelphia, OH)

Elton John – Reg Strikes Back  $2.50

The Best of Mozart                    $2.50

I used to wonder how Elton John could go from megarockstar 70s icon to virtually unknown in the 80s. Then I listened to Reg Strikes Back. Have you ever heard it? No? There’s a reason for that.

The Mozart album is pretty good. It features cuts from his entire career. From his humble beginnings playing cover symphonies in Hamburg nightclubs, through his time as a backup player with James Brown, Little Richard and others and even his much chagrined “Fat Mozart” period.

 

20 February 2016 (Amazon.com)

Foo Fighters – Big Me                     $4

The Tea Party – Edges of Twilight  $ 3.91

Glueleg – Heroic Doses                   $ 3.97

Stay away from mikeladano.com. Seriously. If you go on that site you’ll end up reading about some awesome band that you’ve never heard of and the next thing you know they’re on your Amazon wish list. I mean, I don’t regret any of these purchases (Except the Big Me single which is just the single and not the Maxi CD single (Who knew there was such a difference?)) But I was perfectly happy not knowing there was an awesome band called Glueleg and if it hadn’t been for that damn website I probably never would have known.

 

Beezelbubba28 May 2016 (FYE, New Philadelphia, OH)

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral $9.99

The Dead Milkmen – Beezelbubba       $1.00

I was looking to see if they had any Dead Kennedys when I came across the Dead Milkmen disc and I instantly knew I had to have it. Because it was “Buy 1 Get 1 for $1” day at FYE I replaced my old copy of the Downward Spiral while I was at it.

 

29 May (Bandcamp.com)

Mr. Clit & The Pink Cigarettes – Haircuts $5

(Amazon.com)

Local H – Hey Killer                            $8.99

The Descendents – Everything Sux   $9.49

Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology         $8.99

Hey Killer is probably the best album of 2015 and nearly everyone missed it. Well, except for the guy that wrote that article telling me how great it was.