Posted in reviews, rock 'n' roll on March 6th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Intros can be complicated things. Sometimes, an intro teases what you can expect from a song, and other times, it’s a counterpoint. I’ve come to learn that I want my song intros to tease the song. Counterpoints usually mean that, should I enjoy the intro, I will not be much of a fan of the song.
Such is the case with the burbling electronics and shimmering guitars that open up Ask the Dead‘s “The Leans,” the titular track to their new EP. The introduction’s production had me hoping this would be quiet and weird, but once you get into the meat of the songs, they’re standard alt rock, strongly influenced by the likes of the Foo Fighters.
The vocals are way too high in the mix, making what could’ve been something pretty decent less so, given that the strain in the singer’s voice becomes that much mroe apparent when not masked by a pretty decent band. A little more deviation from the norm, and we could’ve had something like the Burden Brothers, which took the Toadies and gave them a makeover by way of the Murder City Devils.
You get hints of what could be during a breakdown on “All Fall Down,” where the bass gets funky, but past those few seconds and the opening of the EP, this is frighteningly basic modern rock radio stuff. I’m sure they’re fun live, but this EP is pretty much
Posted in cassettes, reviews, rock 'n' roll on March 5th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Alpha Owl‘s “Boscage” single is an amazing package. Hand-typed liner notes, letterpress artwork, and it’s just amazing. Lots of work for a three-song EP, especially something that’s limited to a production run of 100.
The music took me a little more to get into. It’s energetic stoner metal that acknowledges that Black Sabbath wrote “Paranoid,” as well as “War Pigs,” if that makes any sense. The EP isn’t all plodding sludge — it’s actually upbeat and makes you want to do that thing where you play air guitar and wiggle your fingers. It involves lots of epic soloing, some insane riffage, and some pounding drums that make me wish this hadn’t been mastered so high. Were there more of a low end, this could conceivably level a house.
This might be the most fun release Tor Johnson has put out. It manages to rock like a hardcore band, but still evokes every evening spent smoking too much weed and raiding your parents’ LPs for Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin records. Granted, the vocals are occasionally just a little out of reach of the singer’s range, but it ends up lending the whole affair a sense of desperation that wouldn’t otherwise be there. For a first release, it shows a lot of promise, and I can’t wait to see where Alpha Owl heads next.
Posted in mp3 on March 4th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
State University of New York Press has a very excellent addition to film criticism with their new book, B Is For Bad Cinema, edited by Claire Perkins and Constantine Verevis. Rather than focusing as so many books about “b-movies” do, using the standard definition of the form — cult, grindhouse, trash, et al — it steps outside the expected. In some cases, we’re talking major releases as much as we are low-budget features.
Now, granted, in some cases there’s a crossroad where bad meets big, and you end up with something like William Friedkin’s Cruising, which — while trashy (and it certainly is) — also features what essay author R. Burton Palmer describes in “Redeeming Cruising” as “significant” imagery: namely, “the kind of sexual display previously seen only in gay stag films was suddenly at the representational center of a major Hollywood release.”
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Posted in podcast on March 3rd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Many apologies for the fact that you can barely understand what I’m saying in this week’s episode. I’m sick as a dog and my voice is pretty much gone, which stands in brilliant contrast to the totally blasting music that dominates this installment of Sunglasses After Dark. But seriously, the fact that I was able to maintain some sort of coherence and avoid devolving into a barrage of coughing makes me prouder than anything I’ve done in ages.
Enjoy the study in opposites and prepare your ears for a full metal assault.
Podcast #108, “Voice of the Voiceless”
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Posted in country, interview, links on February 19th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Rock Star Journalist has been suffering a little lately, as I’ve been working a lot of freelance for the Pitch in advance of the Folk Alliance International Conference. It’s a five-day conference taking place in Kansas City this week, starting today, and running through Sunday. I had the fun job of interviewing some of the showcasing artists in order to help promote it, and that’s pretty much sucked all of my energy lately. However, I’ve gotten to speak with people like actor / musician Ronny Cox about the new Robocop remake, ask BR5-49′s Chuck Mead about his work on Broadway, and so much more. You can check out all my interviews (sans one, which hasn’t run yet) after the jump, as well as details of how to attend the conference.
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Posted in podcast, pop, punk, rock 'n' roll on February 17th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Recording this podcast, I was all kinds of excited about getting it done, doing a phone interview, and then heading out to enjoy some sunshine. The sunshine disappeared, some support screws sheared off on our bed frame, and I spent an hour and a half at the hardware store and kneeling in our bedroom with a drill.
Sometimes, you should just be happy for what you’ve accomplished — namely, putting together a really poppy, upbeat podcast that runs the gamut from nerd rock to stoner jams. It’s a blast and a half this episode, despite everything that followed.
Podcast #107, “Rush to Judgment”
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Posted in books, movies, reviews, streaming audio / video on February 5th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Ken Hollings‘ Welcome to Mars: Politics, Pop Culture, and Weird Science in 1950s America is not the book you think it is. Maybe I misinterpreted the press write-up for it, but I cracked it open expecting a treatise on how the climate of postwar America influenced the films and televisions of the era.
Now, that is an element of Hollings’ book. But, otherwise, I was terribly wrong, and I’ve never been so glad to have made an error in judgment. The actuality is that the author has created a year-by-year documentation of 1947 through 1959, drawing connections from the stories of Lemuria, Project Bluebook, the RAND corporation, and LSD.
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Posted in podcast on February 3rd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
This episode of the podcast is just one big mix. It’s just as much due to my foggy, sore throat, as it is due to the fact that these songs just ended up flowing really well. It’s a little creepy, a little dancy, and maybe even a little melancholy.
If you liked what you heard, I highly suggest tracking down pretty much every release featured on this particular installment of the podcast. Most notably, you should really go to the trouble of listening to the Bombay Royale’s peformance at globalFEST 2014, streaming at NPR Music. It’s their debut US performance, but most importantly, it’s just good music.
Podcast #106, “Melancholy Dance Party”
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Posted in electronic, reviews, streaming audio / video on January 31st, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
I really want to look at AL_X‘sShunt as a solid work, akin to an imaginary film score or concept album. Enough of the tracks work well together — “Takk (En Sens)” followed by “Into the Trees” followed by “Shunt (Part I),” especially — but the vocal tracks, working in standard song structures, just lose me.
It may be that I’m not particularly a fan of the Antony and the Johnsons school of falsetto, but frankly, the tracks that follow this pattern (“Too Late, Too Far,” “Faux,” et al) work like those really awful tracks that run over the end credits after the main title reprise or whatever has run, while they’re listing the second unit key grips and catering providers.
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Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, vinyl on January 29th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
If Panda Kid ever deigns to tour the Midwest, I can’t begin to think of how much I’d thank them for the absolute joy they bring into my life with each and every release. Summetry, their latest LP, got a US release a few weeks back courtesy of Chicago’s Already Dead, and much like everything this Italian group releases, it’s taken a while to figure out what I think about it.
I mean, granted, I like it. It’s pretty much a given that any Panda Kid release will get some form of thumbs up from me at this point. It’s really more of figuring out what tack the group will take on any given release. On Summetry, it’s a vibe that reminds me if it were possible for a time-traveling Beatles to have grown up listening to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.
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