I’m Glad Trump Isn’t Making America Great Again


I’ve gone on record saying I’m not a fan of Donald Trump. Still, there is one part of American Culture I expected him to make great again: Music. I keep waiting for hardcore punk bands to pop up like they did in the eighties when Cowboy Reagan was in charge. I don’t think any of us would be hearing much about bands like Black Flag, DOA, GWAR or Reagan Youth without the moral majority being in charge and giving the youth of the day something to rally against.

Maybe they’re all still just working on their record contracts.

The good thing is that I still have time to catch up on some great music I’ve missed over the past 35 years. After seeing the Dead Kennedys a few weeks ago and not recognizing an embarrassing number of songs I decided to make a trip to the record store. I think I did pretty well for myself. Five purchases for under $50.

Of course, I was predominantly looking for DK stuff. I have Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. I had In God We Trust, Inc. but it’s been lost to the ages so I wanted to fill in some gaps.

I managed to get Frankenchrist on vinyl for $20. That was the highest price for anything on this trip, but I think it was worth it. I justified it by wondering how much I would have paid if it had Giger’s Penis Landscape insert. (But now that I think about it, how odd it is that I would pay more to get a poster of that particular painting?) I also bought Plastic Surgery Disasters/In God We Trust, Inc. on CD. Now my collection is only missing Bedtime for Democracy.

They also had the 25th anniversary of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables featuring a 55-minute documentary. I found that really tempting for but passed on it for now. Hopefully, it’s still there when I make it back. Does anyone have a copy of this? Is it any good? Is it worth the $16?

The benefit of going to a brick and mortar store instead of Amazon is I was able to browse and see what else wanted me to pick it off the shelf. I didn’t have to look very far to find the Dead Milkmen’s Eat Your Paisley. At $8 and with tracks like “Where the Tarantula Lives,” “The Thing That Only Eats Hippies” and “Beach Party Vietnam” it was a no-brainer.

I also grabbed The Lords of the New Church’s self-titled album. I first heard of these guys after reading 1537’s review. After checking out a few tracks on Spotify I immediately added them to my Amazon wishlist. This is a great album. It has a gothic, new wave feel to it. Not new wave as in ‘we’re adults now,’ but new wave as in ‘I wonder if this album influenced Pretty Hate Machine.’

My last purchase was Machines of Loving Grace’s self-titled debut. This was on the $1 rack and since they contributed one of the best tunes to The Crow Soundtrack I figured it would be worth taking a chance on. Jokes on me. There’s a reason I never heard anything from these guys other than “Golgatha Temple Blues.” I’m sure I’ll take it down again eventually, but I don’t imagine it will get much airplay before I try to sell it back.

I also came across a Scott Stapp CD I thought about buying. I have a few coworkers that keep singing “One” whenever they pass by and I thought it would make a good gag gift. In the end, I decided $1 is too much money to spend on a Scott Stapp CD no matter the reason.

 

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Rammstein “Sehnsucht”


(22 Aug 1997, Slash)

Today is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the protestant reformation. It has now been half a millennium since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church of Wittenburg.

What does this have to do with anything?
I was reading the Economist¹ and it said: “To Luther music was a divinely inspired weapon against the devil.”

That struck me as somewhat odd, having listened to the music of such artists as Glenn Danzig, Ghost and Luther’s countrymen Rammstein.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rammstein. But they’re about as far from “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” as it’s possible to get. I love heavy industrial music and these guys are up there with the best of them. Not only do they have brutal, punishing thrash-metal guitar riffs driving the songs and great danceable beats, but this album features some of the best keyboard work I’ve ever heard. Some of the sounds had to have been placed in a time capsule because I swear they came straight from the eighties but they don’t sound dated.

And singing in German just goes to help establish their heavy metal bona fides. Is there any better language for metal than German? I love the language because no matter what you say it sounds like you’re really, really angry. The coolest thing about listening to singing in another language is being able to focus on the melody instead of the message. And from what I’ve heard, the message in most Rammstein songs is horrible.

I’m embarrassed to say the first time I’ve listened to this entire album was for this review. I still remember seeing the terrifying video for “Du Hast” which I think is still they’re biggest hit in the US, but I enjoy other tracks just as much. “Engel” has a whistled intro that makes me think of that other German metal band, The Scorpions. “Klavier” is notable as being the lone ballad on the album. Most of the other tracks blend into each other, but they all have those great vocals, driving riffs and beautiful keys.

This might not be the kind of music Luther was talking about when he used the term “divinely inspired,” but it’s not as evil as other bands Germans like… such as David Hasselhoff.

 

¹.  Anonymous. “Nailed it.” The Economist. 7 January 2017: 45. Print

 

Marilyn Manson Can Suck His Own Dick


You sicko. Why the hell would you click on that link?

I’ll tell you why: You’ve fallen victim to a great marketing scheme.

This post isn’t actually about Manson’s ability to perform autofellatio. I agree with the idea that someone wouldn’t do it themselves when they could get others to do? But some people are into some strange shit. Remember rule 43: If it exists there’s a fetish for it (and probably half a dozen websites dedicated to this fetish).

Some quick internet research tells me that about 1 percent of males can physically contact their penises with their mouths but only about 0.2 – 0.3 percent can actually perform the act.* I’ve heard Ron Jeremy can do it and has on film, but I’m not looking for that.** I don’t want to make any assumptions about the pale emperor’s length, flexibility or sexual desires (that’s not of my business and this is a free country), but damn that was a great marketing idea.

Sex sells. Even oral sex sells. Even oral sex with yourself sells.

Where did the rumor even begin? You have to wonder if there was a meeting at Interscope records and someone said, “What if we start a rumor you removed a few ribs to suck yourself off?” I imagine a bunch of guys in business suits sitting around a conference table nodding.

This was the 90s equivalent of Ozzy biting the heads off those doves. Or biting the head off that bat. Or snorting that line of army ants. Or pissing on the Alamo.

I think Marilyn Manson realizes there really is no such thing as bad publicity. You would think something like this would prevent people from running out and buying a record, and I’m sure it did stop some, but ultimately a lot of people bought Marilyn Manson albums.^ Even Michael Jackson continued to sell records while being charged with child molestation. He’s the artist on the top-selling album of all time. Being in the news just means people are thinking about you, and they may be thinking, “You know, Thriller was an awesome album.”

This principle used to not extend to politics. Ed Muskie dropped his bid for the Democratic Presidential Nomination amid rumors he was taking an exotic drug. 1972 vice presidential nominee, Thomas Eagleton’s history of mental illness and electroconvulsive therapy is thought to have played a part in George McGovern’s loss. ^*

Of course, this has changed in the past few years. After all, Donald Trump was elected president.

Have you figured out why I didn’t title this post “The Marketing Genius of Marilyn Manson?” Would you have clicked if that was the title?

 


* Although roughly 99.9999856 percent have tried.

**I’ve looked up some weird shit for this site, but I’m drawing a line right there.

^ I own several

^* Of course, Muskie served as Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter for a brief time and Eagleton won re-election to the Senate.

Has Anyone Else Noticed…


…A shift in the modern rock radio format?

It seems like when I tune in lately I hear a lot more of Everlast’s “What It’s Like”, Beck’s “Loser” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” I also hear a lot less Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and other middle-of-the-road modern rock.

I’m not complaining. This is a huge improvement. I actually didn’t listen to much rock radio for a few years. I couldn’t get reception in my car and the morning show sucked, so I switched to a local mix station.

Plus there was that time I almost overdosed on “Kashmir.”

A Good Haul


I had to take the girlfriend to a doctor appointment in the big city on Friday. You’d think this would be a pain in the ass, but I love having an excuse to stretch my legs and see something new. Aside from the appointment only taking 10 minutes it was also nice to check out a different Mexican restaurant and get caught up on my comic books.

I’m not sure if the last minute decision to stop by the music shop was good or bad. I spent way more than I intended to, but I made out really, really well.

I ended up buying four CDs. Three were only $1, so it’s hard to complain. I have come across a few discs that were a ripoff at that price, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I bought a School House Rock! album with a bunch of nineties artists playing “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill” for my girlfriend. We listened to it on the way home and it’s pretty cool. I’ve never been a big fan of Better Than Ezra or Biz Markie, but this is good stuff.

I also bought Slick Idiot’s DickNity. This is the band singer En Esch and guitarist Günter Shulz formed after KMFDM disbanded. I’m not as big on the industrial/electronic music as I was in high school, but this has more than enough guitar on it to keep me happy. It sounds like KMFDM but without a lot of the snobby industrial attitude and a lot more riffage. 

Plus, how could I pass up an album called DickNity? Not only am I a fan of horrible puns but I also possess the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy.

I bought Spin Doctor’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite mainly for the song “Two Princes.” I’ve been sharing romantic songs on my girlfriend’s Facebook page for a while and that was the most recent one. Plus, it always makes me think of the scene from the Sarah Silverman program with Brian Posehn frolicking through the playground and how can anyone not love that?

 

The best CD has to be Nine Inch Nails featuring David Bowie Look Back in Anger. This is taken from a live 1995 performance when NIN were opening for Bowie. There are a few Nails songs I’ve never heard live and a lot of Bowie that I’ve never heard, but the best part is when the two collaborate for “Reptile,” “Scary Monsters” and “Hurt.” I have a feeling this will get a lot of play over the next few months.

And that’s one of the reasons I love browsing around in record shops. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. I did check to see if they had any cheap Descendents, Dead Kennedys or GWAR, but didn’t see any. Instead I came across a rare bootleg that I didn’t even know existed. That never happens to me on Amazon.

But the biggest purchase was a Crosley Rochester CR66 Audio System. I’ve had my eye on one of these for a while. I wanted something that plays records, but could also play AM/FM radio and CDs and wouldn’t take up a whole lot of space. Every time I saw one the price was a little too high, but this time it was low enough I had to pick it up. I’m sure more than a few of my audiophile friends will turn up their noses at it, but so far I’m happy. I’d say it’s a good beginner record player. The sound is good and I can still enjoy my CDs and radio without excessive clutter.

Now I just need to get more vinyl. All I have at the moment is a NIN single for “The Hand That Feeds” and Richard Pryor’s Bicentennial Nigger.

Thrift stores here I come!

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.