arguably the most universally CELEBRATED METAL album of the 1990s, PANTERA's uncompromisingly BRUTAL second album VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (ATCO, 1992) defiantly waved the flag for the genre during the height of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK revolution that saw other legacy acts effectively bow down and acquiesce to its will (looking at you METALLICA, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX and SLAYER). its accomplished predecessor COWBOYS FROM HELL (ATCO, 1990) set the stage for this release with its GUITAR HEROICS via DIMEBAG DARRELL and their ZZ-TOP inspired attention to all things GROOVE, but VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER took it all to another level of INTENSITY and SONG-CRAFT.
UNDENIABLE tracks like "FUCKING HOSTILE," "MOUTH FOR WAR," and "A NEW LEVEL" where live show highlights for the rest of their career and showcase a FOCUS, COHESION and INTERNAL CHEMISTRY that the band built upon with later releases but never equalled again. although decidedly more MELLOW and SLOW-PACED, the ballads "THIS LOVE" and "HOLLOW" likewise showcased a SINGULAR attention to craft with MEMORABLE VOCALS and GUITAR MELODIES that intertwined to HYPNOTIC effect. arguably the STANDOUT track from an absolutely LOADED record is the single "WALK" with its INDELIBLE opening hammer-on, hammer-off GUITAR RIFF and that absolutely CRUSHING CHORUS that comes crashing in with SLEDGEHAMMER FORCE and ABRUPTNESS. that song in particular is a case study in efficiency and how less really can mean more to a track's EFFECTIVENESS. many consider "WALK" PANTERA's finest moment. not sure id go that far [my personal FAVORITE is "FLOODS" off of THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL (ELEKTRA, 1996)], but point taken.
the LEGACY of VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER is both its MEMORABLE songs and the context of which it was released. most of the LEGACY THRASH METAL bands turned in SUBPAR records in the 1990s attempting to follow suit with the ALTERNATIVE ROCK predilections for minimizing (if not skipping altogether) GUITAR SOLOS and [from a metalhead's perspective] hiding behind excessive DISTORTION instead of showcasing both TECHNIQUE and MUSICIANSHIP. METALLICA's LOAD (ELEKTRA, 1996), MEGADETH's YOUTHANASIA (CAPITOL, 1994) and later SLAYER's DIVINE INTERVENTION (AMERICAN, 1994) were more STREAMLINED affairs that seemed to capitulate to the MUSICAL AESTHETICS of the era whereas VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER and its successor FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (ELEKTRA, 1994) just came off like a giant MIDDLE FINGER to it all. remember, the PANTERA dude's were close longtime friends with the likes of ALICE IN CHAINS and the FOO FIGHTERS, even shared the stage with them on numerous occasions so there wasnt any personal ANIMOSITY at all. but in terms of the FRACTURED FRATERNITY that is the greater METAL COMMUNITY, PANTERA is nearly universally REVERED since they stood firm against the cultural tide when others patently SAID UNCLE to the music industry. and that BRAZEN STEADFASTNESS is as much a part of the popular lore surrounding VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER as the songs themselves and has singularly stood as a TOUCHSTONE for all METAL bands moving forward, from LAMB OF GOD, DEFTONES and HATEBREED to SYSTEM OF A DOWN, MUDVAYNE, AVENGED SEVENFOLD and beyond.
VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER is a LEGENDARY record that continues to live up to and exceed its own hype and is absolutely ESSENTIAL for anyone interested in METAL. end stop.
it was a bit hard to get a decent read on the intent behind the brief DAMIEN HIRST: MORBID FASCINATION (ENTERTAIN UK, 2022) documentary, which focused on the NOTORIOUS BRITISH PAINTER and CONCEPTUAL ARTIST. the most FAMOUS of the YBAs (Young British Artists) that came out of GOLDSMITH'S COLLEGE in the late 80s and early 90s, which coincidently rose to CULTURAL PROMINENCE around the same time as the BRITPOP movement of young INDIE ROCK bands, DAMIEN HIRST is the embodiment of BRITAIN's return to CULTURAL RELEVANCY in the EUROPEAN ART scene and beyond.
and for that he is much BELOVED and HATED. some see him as an ABSOLUTE CHARLATAN whose WORK is POMPOUS, SUPERFICIAL and highly OVERRATED. others see him as a MODERN conceptual extension of the likes of CONCEPTUAL ARTISTS such as MARCEL DUCHAMP, ANDY WARHOL and JEFF KOONS in how he isolates innately PROVOCATIVE objects and ingeniously RE-CONTEXTUALIZES them to spur popular discussion and critical evaluation of COMPLEX and INTERRELATED EXISTENTIALIST themes such as NATURE, MORTALITY, RELIGION, IMPERMANENCE, BELIEF and CONSUMER CULTURE. like i said before it is difficult to get a sense from where MORBID FASCINATION stands on this issue as it doesnt seem to advocate for either side, more just presenting both sides as equally RELEVANT. this is FRUSTRATING since the fact that there is interest enough in HIRST in the first place to take the necessary TIME and ENERGY to film, edit and manufacture this product proves his INHERENT VALUE enough as an ARTIST to be considered WORTHY of being critically analyzed and dissected. somehow this line of inquiry feels so TRAGICALLY BRITISH, since only they will seemingly go through the effort to produce a documentary about the merits of making said documentary. i dont much care about your reasoning, just get on with the task at hand already.
there is an UNFORTUNATE preoccupation in this film about HIRST's MARKETING PROWESS and preternatural ability to PROMOTE and SENSATIONALIZE his WORK in the press and thus draw a SUBSTANTIAL PRICE for such at auction. again, that is a BORING topic since such a discussion doesnt confirm or deny the MERIT of his WORK, just its current MARKET VALUE. my hope when watching this documentary was to get a better sense of his ARTWORK and how its THEMES interplay with the work of his PEERS, both preceding him like FRANCIS BACON or concurrently such as fellow NOTABLE YBA SARAH LUCAS. regrettably most of this short film was dedicated to his NOTORIETY and supposed CONTROVERSIAL STATUS within the ART COMMUNITY without naming names. it all just comes across as SUBPAR and lacking any real DEPTH.
not gonna lie, DAMIEN HIRST: MORBID FASCINATION felt like WASTED OPPORTUNITY on a subject that is innately INTRIGUING and whose WORK is demonstrably WORTHY of a critical eye. the never-ending UNCRITICAL focus and SUPERFICIAL preoccupation with MONEY was the TRUE "MORBID FASCINATION" of this film, and not HIRST or his ARTWORK. probably best to search for better fair elsewhere since this film is definitely not worth checking out.
at the heart of the long SELF-PERPETUATED national narrative regarding AMERICAN MASCULINITY, there is this CORE BELIEF in HARD WORK, AMBITION and DETERMINATION paying off. that through some INGENUITY and plenty of elbow grease, the AMERICAN DREAM of personal AGENCY and FINANCIAL SECURITY is within reach. if anything, through his LISTLESS, PERIPATETIC and SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL alter ego, HENRY CHINASKI, in the PICARESQUE FACTOTUM (BLACK SPARROW PRESS, 1975) novel, CHARLES BUKOWSKI is interested in absolutely none of that.
if anything, BUKOWSKI through CHINASKI is more concerned with addressing the counter-argument of what is left for the rest of us. you know, those NORMAL folk that are LESS INTREPID, GIFTED, EDUCATED, INSPIRED and endowed with the INSTINCT to further their MATERIAL INTERESTS. that majority of the LABOR FORCE who are just stuck as a cog in the grinding gears of CAPITALISM in UNAPPRECIATED roles at DEAD-END jobs with no sense of DIGNITY or real future. to me that is the focus of FACTOTUM.
set stateside during the 1940s, including the war years, when available WORK was supposedly PLENTIFUL for any able-bodied person, CHINASKI is an ASPIRING writer who takes on a long series of DISPOSABLE JOBS throughout the country (LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK CITY, NEW ORLEANS, MIAMI, ST. LOUIS, PHILADELPHIA and so on) in order to temporarily fund his DRINKING and attempts at SEXUAL PURSUITS. these TEMPORARY WORK and residential circumstances are always abandoned and the relationships he picks up along with way, both of a PLATONIC and SEXUAL nature, are similarly just as DISPOSABLE. there is no real DEVELOPMENT or AMBITION for CHINASKI throughout FACTOTUM beyond getting DRUNK and attempting to seek a warm body for the evening.
and that lack of consolidation or climax in that narrative arc of FACTOTUM is kind of the point for this type of LISTLESS and DIRECTIONLESS figure in AMERICAN SOCIETY. it speaks of a vein of MASCULINITY that has rejected self-identification with past TRADITIONAL markers such as participation in CONSUMER CULTURE or MILITARISTIC GLORY as stand-ins for one's ACCOMPLISHED sense of personal AGENCY and VIRILITY. instead you are left with this apparent husk of a man who has failed on all accounts, succumbing to to his CHEMICAL and SEXUAL INDULGENCES, but yet still comes off as wholly INDEPENDENT, SELF-MADE and SELF-DETERMINED in a WARPED manner. did AMERICA fail him and those like him or is this the path he chose, to reject SOCIETY and abide by his own VALUES and CODE OF CONDUCT. i woudnt call CHINASKI a REBEL or an ANTI-HERO by any stretch of the imagination inasmuch as he isnt consciously against anything specific, more navigating his IDIOSYNCRATIC path on INSTINCT. what i think he is, is an example of someone that falls and is FORGOTTEN between the cracks of the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. it is hard to pin down why such happens (technology, lack of education, entrepreneurial spirit, poor finances, lack of networking opportunities, etc.), but it is not hard to look around currently and see CHINASKI in many aspects of a SILENT, UNDERVALUED and OVERLOOKED majority that dont materially benefit from AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS and TRADITIONS.
and in that respect, FACTOTUM is beyond prescient to the TOXIC mindset of our current UNRECOGNIZED WORKING POOR that has metastasized and grown BITTER and has largely REJECTED BEDROCK AMERICAN TRADITIONS in recent years.
i can never get enough of these LIVE PERFORMANCE SERIES that have proliferated ONLINE for the past decade, and COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO's OPENAIR LIVE MUSIC SERIES on INDIE 102.3FM out in the DENVER metropolitan area is no exception. most of the STANDOUT PERFORMANCES i located were of the INDIE ROCK variety with past participants in THE BETHS, LA LUZ, SNAIL MAIL, SHAKEY GRAVES, BOYGENIUS, FRANKIE COSMOS and MURDER BY DEATH.
the locations are SPARSELY DECORATED studios, which visually reinforces the fact that the central focus for the STATION with this project is squarely on the SOUND. these PERFORMANCES on OPENAIR are definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in PUBLIC RADIO and UPCOMING MUSICIANS.
i came across an INTERESTING cassette while at REPO RECORDS in PHILADELPHIA recently. all i knew about it going into the purchase was that the SONGWRITER was from ALBANIA and, truth be told, as a former PEACE CORPS volunteer who lived and worked in that country for 2+ years, i was already INTRIGUED. it is just so RARE to come across anything from that OBSCURE BALKAN country in the UNITED STATES, such that even a LIMITED-RUN, LO-FI INDIE FOLK record on an OBSCURE stateside INDIE label was something i was absolutely game for.
from what i could gather, GEA is a MULTI-MEDIA ARTIST based in TIRANA and her sophomore effort EVERYONE IS WORRIED ABOUT ME (LONELY BIRD, 2023) is a welcome surprise because it is a SPARSE, EERY and lyrically DARK record with overt themes related to SELF-HARM and DEATH. reminded me immediately of the ELLIOTT SMITH and NICK DRAKE in that regard, just the way the bare instrumentation really puts the focus and EMOTIONAL weight on the vocals. it all just sounds so DEVASTATING, especially on SOMBER tracks such as "CAT/DOG," "AND THEN YOU WEREN'T" and especially "BIRTHDAY SONG."
during my time in ALBANIA i was involved with conducting interviews in neighboring KOSOVO as part of my work with the university in VLORA. most of these were related to their TROUBLED history with SERBIA in the 1990s and their STRUGGLE to survive, mount a resistance effort and ultimately the UPHEAVAL and TRAUMATIC experience of seeking refuge with their ethnic kin in ALBANIA. this is all to say that my admittedly LIMITED understanding of what makes up the ALBANIAN sense of IDENTITY is COMPLICATED. there is a strong sense of cohesion and deep-seated COMMUNITY, but often such tight bonds degrade into UNBRIDLED CORRUPTION and lack of any semblance of POLITICAL TRANSPARENCY. i can see how navigating such SIDE-DEALING as a native would feel wholly ISOLATING and FRUSTRATING beyond comparison. not to mention the at-times DEGRADING and REGRESSIVE attitudes surrounding women. my experience through ALBANIAN television was one of everyone attempting to be the next VACUOUS POP icon a la BRITNEY SPEARS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA or DUA LIPA (who coincidently is ethnically ALBANIAN). that something as emotionally wrought and lyrically COMPLEX as EVERYONE IS WORRIED ABOUT ME is coming from such an ISOLATED CULTURE makes me feel counterintuitively better about the country's long-term prospects. perhaps it may be waking up from a long slumber and finally seeing itself accurately in relation to its CULTURAL, POLITICAL and ECONOMIC INTEGRATION into EUROPE and the wider COMMUNITY.
or i could just be projecting. either way, check out this recent release from GEA. definitely a welcome surprise i did not see coming.
i recently revisited this upstate NEW YORK duo PHANTOGRAM i hadn't thought about in a while. back in the early 2010s i came across a RANDOM CD sampler at VINTAGE VINYL, COMPACT DISC WORLD or PRINCETON RECORD EXCHANGE (cant remember which) that had this deeply AFFECTING and SUPER CATCHY song "MOUTH FULL OF DIAMONDS" that seemingly bridged the gap between INDIE ROCK and TRIP HOP. just a WELL-CRAFTED POP song with these HAUNTING, HARMONIZED vocals a la SARAH BARTHEL and JOSH CARTER. for some reason they seemed reminiscent of ELECTROCLASH acts like LADYTRON and THE KNIFE but less DANCE-Y and more INTROSPECTIVE and SOULFUL. more than a decade and three albums later and they are still very much going strong.
definitely worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
it was my understanding back in middle school that the only type of METAL was THRASH METAL.
it was the summer of 1996 and my family was stateside in NEW JERSEY visiting after my first year living in NIGERIA. that was the time that METALLICA's LOAD (ELEKTRA, 1996) came out and i can still remember the display at a local record store that had their entire DISCOGRAPHY on discount as a promotion. i liked LOAD so i remember on a whim going back to the store and picking up RIDE THE LIGHTNING (MEGAFORCE, 1984), MASTER OF PUPPETS (ELEKTRA, 1986), ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (ELEKTRA, 1988) and METALLICA (ELEKTRA, 1991) in one fell swoop. id later come across KILL 'EM ALL (MEGAFORCE, 1983) from a friend back in AFRICA. not only did those previous ALBUMS, especially the earlier ones, completely blow me away beyond that of LOAD, it made me interested in investigating other THRASH METAL bands within the year including SLAYER, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, SEPULTURA and EXODUS. this was back in the mid 90s before streaming, YOUTUBE or downloading when to get new music you effectively had to either buy PHYSICAL PRODUCT or borrow such from your IMMEDIATE NETWORK OF FRIENDS and buy CASSETTES to create MIXTAPES.
for me, THRASH METAL was ground zero when it came to EXTREME MUSIC. from their i went chronologically backwards to NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL bands like MOTORHEAD, DIAMOND HEAD, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST and even further to BLACK SABBATH. years later in high school and college id become familiar with DEATH METAL, BLACK METAL and GRINDCORE among other sub-genres, but THRASH was essentially the foundation. to my ears the recipe of THRASH was two parts the TECHNICAL MUSICIANSHIP and FEROCITY of NWOBHM (especially MOTORHEAD and JUDAS PRIEST) with one part the SNARLING ATTITUDE and immediacy of HARDCORE PUNK ROCK (a la THE MISFITS and DISCHARGE). within CLIFF BURTON-era METALLICA there was also this added NEOCLASSICAL ELEMENT that also provided those early string of ALBUMS, especially RIDE THE LIGHTNING and MASTER OF PUPPETS with a COMPOSITIONAL and EMOTIONAL SOPHISTICATION that has not been matched since across all sub-genres, even by the band themselves. and for me personally as much as i love the increased AURAL ASSAULT and OUTRIGHT BRUTALITY of MODERN EXTREME METAL bands like PIG DESTROYER, FULL OF HELL, DEATH, ENTOMBED, NAILS, TERRORIZER and NAPALM DEATH, it still all comes down to those two key METALLICA RECORDS, as well as SLAYER's REIGN IN BLOOD (DEF JAM, 1986) and SOUTH OF HEAVEN (DEF JAM, 1988), SEPULTURA's CHAOS A.D. (ROADRUNNER, 1993) and MEGADETH's RUST IN PEACE (CAPITOL, 1990) as the foundations of my appreciation for the THRASH METAL genre at large.
embedded below is a recent DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that includes a playlist celebrating THRASH METAL. enjoy!
the way i view PEARL JAM, their fifth album YIELD (EPIC, 1998) serves as kind of a CAPSTONE ARTISTIC STATEMENT that encapsulates their early cycle of releases that in essence represents the first phase of their long career. many saw it at the time as a RETURN-TO-FORM given their more STREAMLINED SOUND with RECOGNIZABLE commercial SINGLES as well as use of TRADITIONAL promotional methods (i.e. televised interviews and music videos) and EXTENSIVE TOURING. famously during their VITALOGY (EPIC, 1994) touring cycle they took on TICKETMASTER (and lost) and with the follow-up NO CODE (EPIC, 1996) there was a concerted effort to be lyrically OBLIQUE and quite CONTRARIAN with a sonically DISSONANT and aggressively ANTI-COMMERCIAL track-listing. it is arguable that from here on out their CREATIVE OUTPUT has been steady but more INSULAR and SELF-REFERENTIAL in nature. gone are the BIG SWINGS that marked several of the releases during this early cycle, but with that lessening of expectations surrounding NEW MATERIAL the band has transformed into a steady NOSTALGIC TOURING JUGGERNAUT with a cult following rivaling that of THE GRATEFUL DEAD, PHISH or RADIOHEAD.
in terms of the actual album, the STANDOUT YIELD tracks include the singles "DO THE EVOLUTION" and "GIVEN TO FLY" as well as the HARD-CHARGING "BRAIN OF J" and the PLAINTIVE "WISHLIST." its honestly a perfectly SERVICEABLE effort that fits seamlessly into a BACK CATALOGUE of similarly paced MATERIAL. from my recollection, the only reason it stood out at the time was the fact that the previous NO CODE effort was such an ODD aberration of a record seemingly designed to alienate and divide a devoted fanbase a la NIRVANA's IN UTERO (DGC, 1993). YIELD in comparison was more of the same FEEL-GOOD, EARNEST song-craft the band was previously known for as if nothing had ever happened. unfortunately i think their time had passed as by this point the CULTURE had moved past ALTERNATIVE ROCK and was entering a new phase dominated by overly AGGRESSIVE and EXAGGERATED MACHISMO (and quite frankly quite MISOGYNISTIC) typified by HYBRID METAL / HIP HOP acts like LIMP BIZKIT, KORN, DISTURBED, MUDVAYNE, SLIPKNOT, PAPA ROACH and EMINEM as well as more THOUGHTFUL, EXPERIMENTAL and ARTFUL fair like DEFTONES, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, INCUBUS and SYSTEM OF A DOWN. to me YIELD just feels like the last hurrah of a great band entering out of the peak years of their career and the beginning of their much longer run, much like their peers in the FOO FIGHTERS, as a VETERAN LIVE ACT in the spirit of ELTON JOHN, THE ROLLING STONES, TOM PETTY, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and especially NEIL YOUNG.
and there is nothing wrong with that.
YIELD is definitely worth checking out but i would strongly suggest starting off with either TEN (EPIC, 1991), VS (EPIC, 1993) or VITALOGY to begin with as a primer. those are the absolutely ESSENTIAL PEARL JAM releases.
photo manipuation & text by nacrowe
i didnt have cable in the 90s as a kid and neither did any of my friends, so animated NICKELODEON shows like RUGRATS, DOUG, HEY ARNOLD! and THE REN & STIMPY SHOW were never a part of my childhood. when stuff got put on DVDs in the 2000s was when i went back and sought out some of the more ADVENTUROUS stuff that came out during my youth including PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE, DARIA, MR. SHOW, DEXTER'S LABORATORY, BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, THE STATE, JOHNNY BRAVO and THE KIDS IN THE HALL among other titles. becoming acquainted with THE REN & STIMPY SHOW in my twenties i was pretty SHOCKED by how SUBVERSIVE and TRANSGRESSIVE some of the material was, especially the lovingly depicted GROSS-OUT HUMOR as well as the PAINED expressions that bordered on the TORTUROUS.
i was floored.
HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY (LADIES & GENTLEMEN, 2020) is a recent documentary about the origins of the show and the rise and fall of its CONTROVERSIAL creator, JOHN KRICFALUSI. in terms of LEGACY, it is difficult to not seen the influence of KRICFALUSI and his WARPED ANIMATED SENSIBILITY in the later work of likewise VISIONARY creator-centric and deeply PERSONAL projects (and not of the market-researched excuses for toy lines variety) of MIKE JUDGE (BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD), MATT STONE & TREY PARKER (SOUTH PARK), VAN PARTIBLE (JOHNNY BRAVO), JHONEN VAZQUEZ (INVADER ZIM), CRAIG MCCRACKEN (THE POWERPUFF GIRLS) and STEPHEN HILLENBERG (SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS) among countless others.
during its peak popularity after the first season, when THE REN & STIMPY SHOW was a absolute runaway success and CULTURAL PHENOMENON, its appeal was the result of a SINGULAR CREATIVE VISION that could only be achieved from an extremely HANDS-ON CREATOR who ruled over a small cabal of GIFTED ILLUSTRATORS and ANIMATORS with an IRON FIST. KRICFALUSI, undoubtedly the emotionally and psychologically STUNTED victim of a NEGLECTED childhood where his emotional needs were not met by an OVERBEARING and AUTHORITARIAN father, likewise ruthlessly DOMINEERED his employees at the SPUMCO animated studio. when NICKELODEON ordered twenty episodes for the second season (due to overwhelming demand) the increase in production ruined KRICFALUSI since he could not control three times the personnel with the same attention. he caved in on himself and effectively ALIENATED his allies within corporate and was eventually dismissed from his creation. that hands-on LOVE and ATTENTION, albeit misaligned and executed with the BROWBEATING PRECISION of a drill sergeant, worked to an extent at the BOUTIQUE level but could not be replicated at scale, which is how most if not all animated productions function. in that sense the whole enterprise was DOOMED from inception.
whats tragic is how the story plays out for KRICFALUSI post-THE REN & STIMPY SHOW. cocooned in his SELF-PITY and alienated from his peers, some of which summarily quit SPUMCO after his departure which further divided the once somewhat COHESIVE community to date, KRICFALUSI got a second swipe at the apple in the early 2000s when SPIKETV ordered six episodes from him of a series called REN & STIMPY ADULT PARTY CARTOON. gone was the balance of emotions and DIGNITY that marked the original show and on full display was a more RAUNCHY and SEXUALIZED HUMOR that did not fit well with the network. only three episodes were ever aired. i dont think people look at MICKEY MOUS and psychologically make inferences about WALT DISNEY's mindset, much less CHUCK JONES and BUGS BUNNY. but REN & STIMPY as characters largely were aspects of KRICFALUSI in animated form, which is why his REAL-WORLD ABUSE of those characters is so MISGUIDED, PATHETIC and just SAD. KRICFALUSI during this later period allegedly SOUGHT OUT RELATIONSHIPS WITH UNDERAGE TEENAGERS and GROOMED them. no other way to say it.
that alleged fact has essentially TAINTED the whole REN & STIMPY franchise. makes IDIOSYNCRATIC behavior and EXTREME emotions emanating from the screen instead of coming off ECCENTRIC and WACKY seem emblematic of something much DARKER and VIOLENT. it feels like all of those TALENTED PRODUCERS, ILLUSTRATORS, WRITERS, LAYOUT ARTISTS and ANIMATORS interviewed for this film were negatively affected by KRICFALUSI and his fall from GRACE. it reframes a REVOLUTIONARY and intensely CREATIVE period of animation into a basic footnote for an alleged DEVIANT's WARPED scheme of SEXUAL DOMINATION over the YOUNG and VULNERABLE. it is just TRAGIC. you feel for everyone involved.
its always INTERESTING to investigate the CREATIVE PROCESS of ARTISTS, whether that be EXPLORATORY SKETCHES used by PAINTERS or NOTES and ROUGH DRAFTS of short stories by NOTEWORTHY AUTHORS. such is the case with cartoonist ADRIAN TOMINE's 32 STORIES: THE COMPLETE OPTIC NERVE MINI-COMICS (DRAWN & QUARTERLY, 2002) which is a compilation of his entire early series of (mostly) NON-INTERRELATED and (mostly) SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL vignettes concerning post-adolescent life in the 1990s.
originally SELF-PUBLISHED, these mini-comics were sold on consignment as TOMINE began his career as a CARTOONIST and there is a definite PALPABLE sense of EXPERIMENTATION going on with the presentation and execution of that INTRIGUING ALCHEMY that happens between TEXT and IMAGERY. over time the drawn lines in each panel become more CONFIDENT and STYLIZED while the DIALOGUE likewise showcases less EXPOSITION and become more EVOCATIVE and psychologically IMMERSIVE in nature. in essence you are becoming acquainted with an ARTIST learning their CRAFT in REAL-TIME, even including DUDS, HALF-MEASURES and outright FAILURES. some of these brief vignettes just end, which is FINE and VALID, but comes off less determined and artistic and more just the result of outright ABANDONEMENT.
in my opinion the most COMPELLING of these 32 stories include those that examine the DISCOMFORTING relationship between SOLITUDE and LONELINESS, where one can be in a relationship yet feel ABANDONED and ALONE with no sense of SECURITY or COMPANIONSHIP. likewise their is the PECULIAR vein of LONELINESS that come with feeling REJECTED or TIRED and FALLING OUT OF LOVE with a romantic interest. those COMPLICATED feelings that come with both being in and out of relationships are what make some of these short narratives really click, irrespective of the quality of the ART. and that is the other major point observed through reading this compilation, that the quality of the story trumps that of the ART. its what separates great ART from a more visually STUNNING but VACUOUS and PREDICTABLE PLOT presented that unveils little of SUBSTANCE and relies on spectacle, which is how i feel about SUPERHERO COMICS versus that of the more PERSONAL ALTERNATIVE COMICS movement.
i'd definitely recommend his later WORK over this OPTIC NERVE series, but that is kind of the point. this is in essence a primer to help contextualize his later PROJECTS and witness the EVOLUTION FIRSTHAND. an absolutely INTRIGUING and BRAVE PRODUCT to release to the world given TOMINE's embedded admission of FALLIBILITY. too bad other ARTISTS dont follow suit more often.
there something about the INVIGORATING EXPERIENCE of watching a LIVE PERFORMANCE and being a part of the COMMUNITY that celebrates and supports it. its hard to explain since it is about FEELING a certain sense of CAMARADERIE of being on the same EMOTIONAL and PSYCHIC WAVELENGTH with a bunch of total strangers, all taking in the ENERGY of the environment and elevating it as a SINGLE ENTITY. at least that is what i felt when i saw MEMORABLE shows of yore like the DEFTONES at OZZFEST 99 in JERSEY, AFI at WARPED TOUR 2000 in VENTURA or MOTORHEAD at the STONE PONY in 2003.
whats cool about the CALIBERTV YOUTUBE channel and its in-house produced LIVE SHOWS of METALCORE, POST-HARDCORE and POP PUNK bands like THE USED, WE CAME AS ROMANS, FALLING IN REVERSE, SUM 41, EMMURE, UNDEROATH, WHITECHAPEL, CHELSEA GRIN and STATE CHAMPS, is that the cinematography and audio mixes very much effectively translate that CONTAGIOUS and COMBUSTIBLE ENERGY of a LIVE PERFORMANCE. this series is SPECIAL because these performances are not clever branding exercises or byproducts of OBSCURE radio station sessions, CALIBERTV is solely focused on making you eager to go out and get in the pit as soon as possible. most definitely worth checking out.
i mean, where do you even begin with THE DOORS?
to my ears they are the DEFINITIVE LOS ANGELES ROCK AND ROLL band of all-time fronted by arguably the greatest frontman of his generation in WILLIAM BLAKE-quoting FLORIDA transplant and the once and future LIZARD KING JIM MORRISON. some harp on the quality of his poetry in retrospect but nobody can question the UNBRIDLED CHARISMA and sheer SEXUALITY he brought to the equation. every SEDUCTIVE and CONFRONTATIONAL frontman from IGGY POP forward is molded in his REVOLUTIONARY aura. to many MORRISON is the very embodiment of the SEXUAL REVOLUTION that was the arrival of the 1960s COUNTERCULTURE passing into the mainstream. before THE DOORS and especially their self-titled debut THE DOORS (ELEKTRA, 1967) release, POP stars were WELL-MANICURED and GROOMED to present well to a WHOLESOME AMERICAN public, even THE ROLLING STONES. post-MORRISON it was game on. THE DOORS were the POETICIZED, SEXUALLY UNRESTRAINED, GRITTY personification of the AMERICAN DREAM for that era and undoubtedly influenced generations of musicians to come, everyone from the aforementioned IGGY POP (THE STOOGES), PATTI SMITH, NICK CAVE (THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, THE BAD SEEDS), IAN CURTIS (JOY DIVISION), MARK LANEGAN (SCREAMING TREES), CHRIS CORNELL (SOUNDGARDEN) and IAN ASTBURY (THE CULT) among many others.
along with ARTHUR LEE's LOVE, pre-record deal THE DOORS were regulars at the FAMED WHISKY-A-GO-GO venue on the SUNSET STRIP. in fact they were the house band and de facto opener for larger touring outfits throughout the entirety of amassing the songs that would become THE DOORS album. most FAMOUS of which are the CELEBRATED singles "BREAK ON THROUGH (TO THE OTHER SIDE)" and "LIGHT MY FIRE." both speak of ROMANTIC LOVE as a means of PSYCHIC TRANSFORMATION that opens up and transcends our PEDESTRIAN DAILY EXPERIENCE. the LAIDBACK and decidedly more PSYCHEDELIC "ALABAMA SONG (WHISKY BAR)" really plays up on the OTHER-WORDLY tonal possibilities of keyboardist RAY MANZAREK's VOX CONTINENTAL organ on this highly IDIOSYNCRATIC KURT WEILL-composed, BERTOLT BRECHT cover song. for me this song in particular really sets up the SWIRLING, CARNIVALESQUE PSYCHEDELIA that is the tone of the IMMEDIATE follow-up STRANGE DAYS (ELEKTRA, 1967) release, especially on tracks such as "PEOPLE ARE STRANGE" and "STRANGE DAYS."
but to me the most SIGNIFICANT THE DOORS track is the appropriately titled last number on the track list, "THE END," which is a HAUNTING OEDIPAL-tinged song that focuses on the ISOLATED DESPERATION and severe DARK UNDERBELLY of the drug and SEXUAL EXPERIMENTATION of the period, not to mention the VIETNAM WAR itself. it is a song that oozes out the HOLLOW feeling one experiences when loosing their INNOCENCE, however one defines such: POLITICAL, SEXUAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL or CHEMICAL in nature. there is a reason that along with BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD's "FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH" off their debut BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD (ATCO, 1966) release and CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL's "FORTUNATE SON" off their WILLY AND THE POOR BOYS (FANTASY, 1969) album, "THE END" is the most overused song in cinema depicting the VIETNAM WAR era, whether in conflict abroad or the bifurcation of sentiment back at home.
as LEGENDARY ROCK N ROLL debut albums go, THE DOORS is arguably one of the most IMPACTFUL, right there with those of GUNS N ROSES, VAN HALEN, THE RAMONES, JOY DIVISION, OASIS and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND. whether you are a fan of THE DOORS and JIM MORRISON or not, it is an absolutely ESSENTIAL release well worth checking out.
i recently came across the HAZY, LO-FI FUNK MUSIC of ECLECTIC INDIE ROCK SINGER-SONGWRITER RAHILL JAMALIFARD of BROOKLYN GARAGE ROCK band HABIBI. originally from MICHIGAN, RAHILL is a MULTI-DISCIPLINARY artist of IRANIAN descent whose MUSIC has a UNIQUE APPEAL that seamlessly incorporates DIVERSE genres (FOLK, HIP HOP, SHOEGAZE, AMBIENT) in a COHESIVE PSYCHEDELIC POP AESTHETIC that recalls ARTISTS ranging from BECK, WAVVES and BEST COAST to NUJABES, FLYING LOTUS and even FEIST.
i appreciate the UNPREDICTABLE and decidedly IMPRESSIONISTIC QUALITY of her MUSIC that sounds completely MODERN while also maintaining a BITTERSWEET and NOSTALGIC EDGE. its completely INVIGORATING and REGRESHING, and i look forward to keeping tabs on her future releases. RAHILL is definitely worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
the term INDIE ROCK is a pretty AMORPHOUS marker that encompasses a STRIPPED-BACK strain of ROCK N ROLL from the 1980s and beyond that was (for the most part) released on INDEPENDENT labels with LIMITED distribution and supported with tours that (along with HARDCORE bands of the era) established an ALTERNATIVE circuit of makeshift VENUES across the UNITED STATES. to most acts like R.E.M., PAVEMENT, THE REPLACEMENTS, HUSKER DU, DINOSAUR JR, BUILT TO SPILL, SONIC YOUTH and PIXIES come to immediate mind for many when considering the term, but intriguingly it doesnt really denote a particular style per se and is an umbrella term encompassing other genres of the period like POST PUNK, GOTH ROCK, NOISE ROCK and SHOEGAZE. during the 80s many even referred to it as COLLEGE ROCK, given the propensity for only INDEPENDENT-MINDED DJs on local COLLEGE RADIO STATIONS supporting these ARTISTS, as opposed to MAINSTREAM ROCK N ROLL radio at the time which either had its collective head in the sand back in the 1960s and 70s or even worse, the concurrent wave of FECKLESS and UNORIGINAL HAIR METAL emanating from the SUNSET STRIP out in LOS ANGELES.
INDIE ROCK was essentially music for NERDS and its legacy is that of EXPERIMENTATION, focus on craft and (sadly) CULTURAL ELITISM. just by the BOUTIQUE nature of the INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL business, these cultural artifacts were relatively unavailable at scale to the buying public, much less promoted through MAINSTREAM MUSIC PUBLICATIONS or supported by ESTABLISHED CLUBS and THEATERS. by the very nature of the business-side of things, INDIE ROCK was inherently UNDERGROUND. the story of the genre is much like the apocryphal narrative surrounding the fact that few PEOPLE witnessed THE VELVET UNDERGROUND play live during their brief existence, but those AUDIENCE MEMBERS went out and started bands and furthered their GOSPEL. with the rise of the more INDIE ROCK and HARDCORE-influenced ALTERNATIVE ROCK explosion from SEATTLE in the early 1990s, many of these bands rose to national visibility on the collective backs of NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM and ALICE IN CHAINS. the AESTHETIC has likewise continued onward for the last thirty years as the culture caught up to INDIE ROCK to the point that it is currently an almost MEANINGLESS term.
what is left of it feels co-opted by MODERN online gatekeepers like PITCHFORK, STEREOGUM and BROOKLYNVEGAN who lionize CHEAP NOVELTY and EXPERIMENTATION as an unto themselves to the point that TUNEFULNESS and attention to ACTUAL CRAFT are DIMINISHED and perceived as a glowing indication of a lack of SOPHISTICATION. its a definite problem with BASELESS ELITISM and the false understanding of what makes something AUTHENTIC and unfortunately has INFILTRATED the mindset of the music-buying public in the last two decades plus. not sure whether to BLAME INDIE ROCK itself, but the COMMUNITY at large let it FESTER and reach a critical mass. its UNFORTUNATE because i grew up on many of these bands and truly enjoy their presence in my life, but shy away from the COMMUNITY itself due to the ARBITRARY PISSING CONTEST that it has all become. just my opinion.
embedded below is a recent DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that includes a playlist celebrating the INDIE ROCK movement of the 1980s and early 1990s. enjoy!
in retrospect, i believe that KANY WEST's fifth album MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY (ROC-A-FELLA, 2010) marked a SIGNIFICANT shift in both his catalogue and career. up to this point, WEST through SHEER FORCE OF WILL had successfully positioned himself as the embodiment of several previous threads of HIP HOP, everything from the more SOCIALLY-AWARE, so-called "CONSCIOUS" rappers (i.e. COMMON, MOS DEF, THE ROOTS, etc.) taking their cue from A TRIBE CALLED QUEST and the NATIVE TONGUES collective to the more GOAL-ORIENTED and decidedly MATERIALIST strain personified by JAY-Z, 50 CENT and DRAKE among countless others. that WEST embodies both may seem like a COMPLETE CONTRADICTION, but that is kind of the point.
from this point forward WEST seems to take pride in his ability to CONFRONT and PROVOKE to the point that in a few years and a few album cycles he would come to completely lose the plot. before MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY his INDEPENDENT STREAK empowered him, for example, to completely COUNTER men's fashion at the time, replacing oversized clothing and sports jerseys for pink polo shirts and fitted jeans. it also allowed him to seek out EXPERIMENTAL COLLABORATORS in the ART world like VISUAL ARTISTS HARUKI MURAKAMI, VIRGIL ABLOH and GEORGE CONDO and in later years PERFORMANCE ARTIST VANESSA BEECROFT. that CONTRARIAN STREAK is also what led him in recent years to adopt the VIRULENT RACISM of CANDACE OWENS, NICK FUENTES and DONALD TRUMP. the way i see it, both MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY and its follow-up YEEZUS (ROC-A-FELLA, 2013) represents the point at which his head got too BIG and his UNCHECKED EGO led him to actually believe that his powers of INFLUENCE and INTELLECT separated him from HUMANITY.
WEST's mother DONDA tragically PASSED AWAY prior to the making of his preceding album 808s & HEARTBREAK (ROC-A-FELLA, 2008) which was a consciously MINIMALIST affair that mourned the loss of not only his mother but a relationship with designer ALEXIS PHIFER. on that album WEST comes across as CONTEMPLATIVE and intensely PENSIVE about his participation and culpability in the dissolution of that relationship. it came across as MATURE and HEARTFELT. in contrast MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY, especially on tracks like "MONSTER," "BLAME GAME," "RUNAWAY" and "HELL OF LIFE," WEST seems to absolutely revel in his own demented and objectifying ideation surrounding WOMEN. it is quite STARTLING the likes of which the depths of his MISOGYNY is on full display throughout MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY, including CRUDE diatribes that are believed to be directed at KIM KARDASHIAN, the socialite / entrepreneur / reality tv starlet who he began dating and famously later married. i am not a psychologist, but it seems evidently clear that the DEATH of his mother had a PROFOUND effect on WEST's life, as it seemingly freed the guardrails on his ability to self-edit his lyrics and ultimately SELF-IMMOLATE his PUBLIC PERSONA on full display to EVERYONE.
all that being said, on a purely musical level MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY is arguably his FINEST work. his use of pastiche to inventively interpolate DISPARATE SONIC ELEMENTS from different genres and historical eras of RECORDING TECHNIQUES (everything from KING CRIMSON, JAMES BROWN and MIKE OLDFIELD to MANU DIBANGO, MICHAEL JACKSON, CONTINENT NUMBER 6 and GIL-SCOTT HERON) is truly MIND-BLOWING on just a TECHNICAL and CONCEPTUAL LEVEL. on YEEZUS this same INCREDIBLE proficiency for artistically integrating SAMPLES into a COHESIVE statement would be further harnessed and STREAMLINED to the point of SPECTACULAR obliteration of said SAMPLES, but on MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY he is showcasing that UNMATCHED production foresight that differentiated WEST from his TALENTED PEERS, COLLABORATORS and MENTORS in NO I.D., RZA, Q-TIP, JON BRION, BO1-DA, PETE ROCK and the like.
lyrically PROBLEMATIC and musically GENIUS-LEVEL, WEST with MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY and its accompanying short-film entered the conversation with the likewise CONTROVERSIAL legacies of everyone from RICHARD WAGNER, CHUCK BERRY, PHIL SPECTOR, IKE TURNER, MICHAEL JACKSON and MORRISSEY, all of whom made ASTOUNDING contributions to the progress of ART while harboring likewise ABHORRENT PERSONAL FAILINGS that tarnished their public image in perpetuity. do i recommend this album? yes, but with the caveat that one must at least consciously recognize that WEST is not a well-adjusted individual and that during this period in his life the unraveling of the plot was certainly underway. its a SAD narrative to tell you the truth.
and very AMERICAN.
its always intriguing to consider why certain DISTRICTS and CITIES develop into ECONOMIC CENTERS and CULTURAL HUBS from an purely urban planning perspective. usually one person starts a business that becomes SUCCESSFUL and then another does something similar nearby and then a few more rounds of that equates into the emergence of the GARMENT DISTRICT in midtown NEW YORK CITY. that ORGANIC sense of a COLLECTIVE expression over time in the creation of CULTURAL NEXUS sites is what makes the recent THE RAINBOW () documentary such an INTERESTING proposition.
this longtime family-owned and operated restaurant on the FAMED SUNSET STRIP in WEST HOLLYWOOD has been an ICONIC CULTURAL INSTITUTION going back to even its pre-RAINBOW incarnation as the VILLA NOVA, when it was a DISCREAT haunt for celebrities like MARILYN MONROE and JOE DIMAGGIO (who had their first date at the restaurant). since the 1970s THE RAINBOW has been the central locus of all things ROCK N ROLL in the ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL of LOS ANGELES (and arguably the world), given its walking proximity to CELEBRATED venues THE ROXY, WHISKY-A-GO-GO and GAZZARRI'S (now defunct). with its longtime management in CHICAGO-transplant MARIO MAGLIERI (and later his son and grandson), who also ran the day-to-day operations of the likewise ICONIC WHISKY-A-GO-GO, the restaurant for all its INEBRIATED HEDONISM and DEBAUCHERY through the decades was somewhat of a family affair. and that sense of COMMUNITY radiated out into the musicians that frequented it, both famous and completely UNKNOWN. in fact, throughout the film numerous FAMOUS rock musicians from LITA FORD (THE RUNAWAYS) to MATT SORUM (GUNS N ROSES, THE CULT) spoke about how the MAGLIERI family gave them free soup on the house in their DOWN-AND-OUT, PRE-FAME days as a STRUGGLING musician.
THE RAINBOW as a nexus point of the ROCK N ROLL COMMUNITY writ large is the main theme of the film. and that goes back to its early years in the 1970s as the watering hole for an exclusive drinking club that was ALICE COOPER, KEITH MOON (THE WHO), RINGO STARR (THE BEATLES), HARRY NILSSON, MICKEY DOLENZ (THE MONKEES), JOHN LENNON (THE BEATLES), BERNIE TAUPIN (ELTON JOHN), MARC BOLAN (T. REX) and KEITH EMERSON (EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER). just the idea that such rock royalty sought out this establishment to let their hair down back in arguably what was the heyday of ROCK N ROLL music as the pinnacle of the cultural ZEITGEIST is pretty REMARKABLE. that such momentum carried through the 1980s with HAIR METAL and on through the 00s with the NU METAL scene (albeit the 90s were a bit of a lull as the focus shifted to SEATTLE), it is crazy to consider what makes this place so special to so many for so long.
it is also what makes one wonder about its fate moving forward as the LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE MARKET devours addresses up and down the SUNSET STRIP, including MUSIC VENUES, to create LUXURY APARTMENT and CONDO COMPLEXES. there is also the matter of MUSIC PRODUCTION and RECORDING TECHNOLOGY that allows users to create product alone without a need for a COMMUNITY of musicians. record companies have followed suit with these ELECTRONIC and HIP HOP acts and the whole ECONOMIC underpinning of the ecosystem has largely collapsed, leaving ROCK N ROLL in a DISADVANTAGEOUS position. it is an open question if the ZEITGEIST can be recaptured in the same way that it did for decades before or the CULTURE has moved on.
along with the aforementioned FORD and SORUM, this LOVINGLY-CREATED documentary included the engaged participation of ALICE COOPER, LEMMY KILMISTER (MOTORHEAD), GENE SIMMONS (KISS), SLASH (GUNS N ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER), OZZY OSBOURNE (BLACK SABBATH) and even JAMES PANKOW (CHICAGO), as well as generations of the MAGLIERI family. you really get the feeling that irregardless of the state of the music industry or ROCK N ROLL's roll in it, THE RAINBOW will last and persevere because that CORE COMMUNITY of fans persists and will support this institution because they believe in it.
RIP MARIO MAGLIERI
HICKSVILLE (BLACK EYE COMICS, 1998) by DYLAN HORROCKS is quite the unusual graphic novel in that it is a FICTIONALIZED META-NARRATIVE about the MEDIUM itself and its potential of both transporting and mesmerizing the READER into a different state of CONSCIOUSNESS. HORROCKS does this through an interweaving plot surrounding an INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER for a comic publishing company coming out to a NEW ZEALAND called HICKSVILLE in order to run the background and attempt to understand the origins of a MEGA-SUCCESSFUL WRITER back in the states. what this REPORTER doesnt comprehend initially is that HICKSVILLE is the literal spiritual home for COMIC BOOK WRITERS going on centuries and that his subject, DICK BURGER, has broken their OPERATING CODE OF ETHICS.
the effect of this plot is a CODED discussion about the wider industry itself and what truly defines SUCCESS and ARTISTIC INTEGRITY in an environment where the participants are constantly biting off one another and self-cannibalizing their own MATERIAL in the hopes of an EXPANDED READERSHIP and potential revenue stream. the town of HICKSVILLE and its GOOD-NATURED but OPINIONATED inhabitants represents a GREEK chorus of sorts for the higher IDEALS of the READERSHIP of GRAPHIC NOVELS writ large, many of whom are unconcerned with ECONOMIC CONCERNS beyond BASIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY.
for some background, HICKSVILLE was written a few years after the INDUSTRY-ALTERING founding of IMAGE COMICS by several HIGH-PROFILE ILLUSTRATORS, formerly of DC and MARVEL. the revolution that was IMAGE initially was that each of these CREATORS maintained control of their INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (essentially leasing such to IMAGE), which was not the case with DC or MARVEL. while SMALL comic book PUBLISHERS had long been a thing, this new INDEPENDENT company was competing at scale in the big leagues. it also announced the arrival of CREATORS maintaining control of their CREATIONS, even at the more SUBTERRANEAN level. i wonder how much of the character of BURGER and his UNFETTERED FINANCIAL ASPIRATIONS, lack of ORIGINALITY and lack of MORAL CLARITY surrounding the UNATTRIBUTED PLAGIARIZING of other artists is a stand-in for the ECONOMIC AMBITION similar gripes against some of those ORIGINAL founding members of IMAGE including JIM LEE (who went back to run DC), ROB LIEFELD and TODD MCFARLANE. i would not be surprised.
what i appreciated about HICKSVILLE is how it uses the MEDIUM and VOCABULARY of graphic novels to create a MULTI-LAYERED storyline with INTENTION that adroitly plays with big IDEAS surrounding the EMOTIONAL core of the MEDIUM itself. the town of HICKSVILLE is the physical personification of this ONGOING discussion and village of IDEAS regarding best practices and what BUDDHISTS would refer to as RIGHT INTENTION. the wealth of the industry is thus understood not to be located in the ECONOMIC GAINS of its PARTICIPANTS, but in the QUALITY of the CONTENT and PRODUCT itself. that this was all conveyed in a LYRICAL and ARTISTIC manner is what renders HICKSVILLE such an ASTOUNDING achievement that is well worth checking out for anyone interested in REVOLUTIONARY ART constructed with INTEGRITY.
even though i fully realize its fundamentally PRODUCT PLACEMENT, i am such a fan of WELL-RECORDED and PRODUCED LIVE PERFORMANCE videos by MUSICIANS whatever the rationale. and there is something about ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS where songs get stripped back to their SKELETAL ELEMENTS and take on a different flair for the listener. sometimes with PEDALS, DISTORTION and "wall of sound" PRODUCTION these nuances get overlooked in a mix so an all-acoustic rendition very much provides an opportunity to showcase the artistry of both the COMPOSITION and MUSICIAN. conversely it also provides an opportunity to show the lack of such as well.
TAYLOR GUITARS has both their LONG-RUNNING ACOUSTIC SESSIONS and SOUNDCHECK LIVE MUSIC SERIES doing the same basic function in showcasing MODERN ARTISTS. the roster of BANDS showcased in both SERIES that i was drawn to were most definitely from the POST HARDCORE, PUNK ROCK, SKA and POP PUNK genres such as TAKING BACK SUNDAY, DESCENDENTS, NEW FOUND GLORY, LESS THAN JAKE, SPARTA, TUNNEL VISION and WAGE WAR.
its pretty COOL stuff and most definitely worth checking out.
i remember when the RELOAD (ELEKTRA, 1997) album by METALLICA was released. i was in 8th grade at the time, living abroad in NIGERIA when a fellow classmate brought a copy to school that a relative had mailed in from EUROPE. at first i thought it was FAKE, or at best a PARODY, with the similar (i would later learn ANDRES SERRANO) ARTWORK, TYPOGRAPHY and all. being overseas, especially during a pre-internet era, meant that you were understandably always a bit out-of-the-loop and delayed with information regarding cultural matters back home like movies, books, records and such. quite honestly i thought RELOAD upon first sight was a JOKE or that i was being duped into believing this release could be real since the previous year's LOAD (ELEKTRA, 1996) release was famously very CONTROVERSIAL and DIVISIVE amongst their long-term fanbase for its DRASTIC STYLISTIC SHIFT away from THRASH METAL and embrace of ALTERNATIVE ROCK and more BLUES-based RIFFAGE, SOFT/LOUD DYNAMICS and TRADITIONAL SONG STRUCTURES. i could not believe they would double-down and release a companion album of the same ilk.
but they did.
there was a half decade gap between the release and commercial success of the self-titled METALLICA (ELEKTRA, 1991) album [i.e. THE BLACK ALBUM] and that of LOAD. most of those intervening years were spent touring but crucially that period was also spent restructuring their contract with ELEKTRA RECORDS. the new agreement gave them more points on album sales as well as the future return of their entire catalogue in 2013. all this and other FAVORABLE business considerations for extending the life of their contract. LEVERAGE-wise the band was at their absolute PEAK during this period and created a wealth of material that severely challenged their previous SOUND, with lead guitarist KIRK HAMMETT and bassist JASON NEWSTED being more involved in the SONGWRITING PROCESS and outside SOUTHERN ROCK and even COUNTRY ELEMENTS coming into the MIX.
the sound of LOAD / RELOAD in retrospect is the sound of a band not being told "no" by their REPRESENTATIVES, HANDLERS, MANAGEMENT, PRODUCERS, etc. they just had too much POWER and CONTROL and these releases are what they wanted to make given no limitations in terms of budget or STUDIO TIME, which is beyond INTRIGUING to consider. arguably the STRONGEST songs from both records could have created a COMPELLING single album, but instead manifested in the creation of two MEDIOCRE and unasked for ALTERNATIVE ROCK-esque METALLICA records. highlights of RELOAD include the THUMPING "DEVIL'S DANCE" and the decidedly MOODY "WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE" and "FIXXXER," but unfortunately most of the songs are pretty CRINGE-INDUCING like the REDUCTIVE and by-the-numbers "FUEL," "CARPE DIEM BABY," "THE MEMORY REMAINS," "BAD SEED" and "BETTER THAN YOU" tracks. and dont even get me started on "THE UNFORGIVEN II" which is still even in retrospect beyond LAME. personally i preferred LOAD, but RELOAD is arguably an UNEVEN but not entirely DISCARDABLE release. it suffers like LOAD from being compared to the absolute EXCELLENCE of the CELEBRATED band's THRASH METAL releases from throughout the 1980s which are ICONIC and among some of the most ORIGINAL, WELL-CONCEIVED and EXECUTED releases from the METAL genre writ-large. in that unbearable shadow these two releases are SUBPAR and artistic catastrophes. relative to their ALTERNATIVE ROCK peers in the 1990s, both albums pair FAVORABLE as interesting curiosities. so its basically all RELATIVE.
definitely check out RELOAD, but only after first taking in the band's LEGENDARY first four releases. that is the context and particular lens i see this release through.
the LOS ANGELES-based GARAGE ROCK trio L.A. WITCH just hits so many aural sweet spots for me with that ELEMENTAL, FUZZED-OUT, REVERB-DRENCHED sound that has BRAVADO and SWAGGER to spare, bringing forth PHANTASMAGORIC visions of VANISHING POINT (20TH CENTURY FOX, 1971) and FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (RM FILMS INTERNATIONAL, 1965) alike. and those harmonized vocals a la 1960s GIRL GROUPS like THE SHANGRI-LA's, THE CRYSTALS and THE RONETTES delivered with DEADPAN SINCERITY delivered in this context is just such a REVELATION. front-woman SADE SANCHEZ in particular is a ROCK N ROLL FORCE to reckon with and pay attention to in the future.
i look forward to their continued output and believe L.A. WITCH are definitely worth checking out.