here is a blast from the past. ever since MP3s took over the music business back at the turn of the millennium, long before streaming was a thing or even the iphone for that matter, there was a resurgence of interest in VINYL RECORDS. this was due to the warmth of that analog sound that just can't be replicated on a digital format. call it psychosomatic but we all know its true.
roughly a decade ago the television channel FUSE (remember FUSE?!) had a series of small segments called CRATE DIGGERS in which they interview producers, artists and musicians like AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, HANK WILLIAMS III, PETE ROCK, JELLO BIAFRA, LORD FINESSE, DJ MUGGS, SHEPARD FAIREY and DAN THE AUTOMATOR about their vinyl collections and how they went about amassing them. its basically a love letter to the pursuit of new unexplored sounds.
definitely worth checking out.
photo by nacrowe
with the impending second bankruptcy of GUITAR CENTER likely to be finalized at the close of this month, it seemed as good a time as ever to look back at the live performance series GUITAR CENTER SESSIONS that they co-produced with DIRECT TV that took advantage of their iconic flagship HOLLYWOOD location.
it feels like the end of an era with their impending doom, but sadly they never took advantage of the internet and basically ceded that ground to competitors like SWEETWATER. it is mind-bogging that COVID knocked them out give that this lockdown period we've been living through has sold more guitars and instruments then any other period in history. just think about that.
oh well, at least we have these performances until they inevitably get taken down.
years ago i was in IOWA of all places at a job fair that was a total waste of time. i randomly met a couple who likewise struck out and we were trying to figure out whaet was worth seeing in what has to be one of the most boring places on earth. then it struck me, BUDDY HOLLY. he died in a plane crash not too far from CLEARLAKE where he played his last show. turns out of all things YOKO ONO was doing an interview at the venue so it was closed and i never got to step inside. i did get to see the crash site, which was pretty morbid in retrospect.
but the whole drive there and back to the fair with this couple we listened to NPR's program about the unexpected parameters of human knowledge that is RADIOLAB (WNYC, 2002-PRESENT). its hosts JAD ABUMRAD and ROBERT KRULWICH are both skilled speakers that play off each other and set up what seem like sound rationale arguments that are inevitably contradicted by recent cutting edge research and/or counterintuitive thinking by scholars and experts in the field.
basically it is a show about thinking.
if you arent familiar definitely take a listen. they are expertly produced with immersive sound effects and well-crafted scripts. you are guaranteed to learn something new, especially about topics you thought you had covered. totally interesting and any episode is worth investigating.
you're welcome in advance!
when AMERICANS think of public radio the dry, educational shows associated with NPR usually come to mind. these shows, much like their PBS television counterpart, are meant to enrich and cultivate thoughtful dialogue on a myriad of subjects.
this is not the BRITISH model at all. they have a celebrated station dedicated solely to news called the WORLD SERVICE, but they also have a number of stations dedicated to the arts, including BBC6 which is dedicated to modern ALTERNATIVE MUSIC (i.e. INDIE ROCK, TRIP HOP, ELECTROCLASH, ALTERNATIVE ROCK, INDIE POP, PUNK ROCK, etc).
the professionally mixed live performances are particularly well produced and include the likes of TRICKY w/MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD, IGGY POP, THE PIXIES, LIZZO, JOHNNY MARR, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, BEAK> and STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS as notable past performers among many many others.
definitely worth a listen.
in the wake of the suicides of both CHRIS CORNELL of SOUNDGARDEN and CHESTER BENNINGTON of LINKIN PARK in 2017, a conversation about MENTAL HEALTH in the METAL community was long overdue. obviously in a music genre that seemingly openly cultivates an exaggerated, almost cartoon-like, depiction of masculinity, the idea of publicizing a sense of self-reflection and being vulnerable is quite revolutionary. and that was what this 2018 four-part video series produced by REVOLVER MAGAZINE sought to accomplish. raising awareness about MENTAL HEALTH treatment, as well as the adjacent issue of SUBSTANCE ABUSE (which really only exacerbates the former).
JOHN DYER BAIZLEY from BARONESS, JESSE LEACH of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, ZAKK WYLDE of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY/OZZY OSBOURNE and ROBBIN FLYNN of MACHINEHEAD all present testimonials about how they went about addressing issues surrounding their MENTAL HEALTH, whether that be ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR or issues of self-worth leftover from their formative years. the courage on display is astounding and it will no doubt pay forward in terms of raising awareness and elevating the consciousness of their audience.
not only that, i think this conversation will save lives. period.
i've written before and spoken on the air about the fact that the most impactful thing JAMES HETFIELD of METALLICA has ever done is being open about his issues surround MENTAL HEALTH and ADDICTION. when he returned to rehab in 2020, after years of sobriety since his previous stint in 2001, it took real bravery to take ownership and responsibility of his problems. and stop the machine to address such. the fact that his band supported such and didn't let financial or non-health related considerations influence his decision is a testament to their values and an example of human empathy. this has long not been the case. people will stay on the road so that the crew will get paid. because of that, the grind and pressures of the road and the music industry have claimed actual lives and anything that contributes to an atmosphere of less toxic masculinity in METAL is great, long-overdue thing.
if anything, i think it may actually assist in attracting a more inclusive and tolerant audience as well as fostering a more empathetic touring industry. how METAL would that be?
thank god for AMEOBA RECORDS.
no doubt this series was meant as a way to garner interest in the sheer sea of available for purchase records, tapes, cds, dvds, posters, books, zines and various merchandise at their flagship stores in HOLLYWOOD, SAN FRANCISCO and BERKELEY, but man is it still cool to see what cultural artifacts jazz up influential musicians.
i only went to AMEOBA in HOLLYWOOD once when visiting a childhood friend of mine in nearby ORANGE COUNTY (where i grew up pre-NIGERIA). AMEOBA for me was like visiting MECCA. it was a sacred place, they literally had everything. i remember i got an out-print (at the time) copy of PRINCE's SIGN 'O' THE TIMES (PAISLEY PARK FILMS, 1987) concert film for cheap. really too bad the place closed doors so some asshole could put up some condominiums. just what the world needs. regardless, id put AMEOBA up there with the greatest stores ive ever walked into, which come to think of it, the only one that comes close at the top of my head is the FNAC CHAMPS ELYSEE in PARIS.
anyway, its always cool to hear musicians talk about music, so below are the episodes with SUNN O))), GARBAGE, THE MELVINS, WAYNE KRAMER, DELTRON 3030 (DAN THE AUTOMATOR & DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN), JOHNNY MARR, MASTODON, CHUCK D, BILLY BRAGG and HIGH ON FIRE among many many other notable musicians, past and present.
this is probably one of the coolest things ive seen in some time. THRASHER MAGAZINE's youtube channel presents a series of skate videos that involve a mysterious mustachioed construction worker dude who holds boards, pipes and even some box-like contraptions to make himself the object skated on by his friends. there is no doubt a fair bit of brute strength and brutally awful decision-making in order to make these fever dreams a reality.
can't wait to see more. definitely check it out below.
i was a late comer to ANTHONY BOURDAIN.
seems i was inadvertently chasing him around the world like R.E.M. and BLACK FLAG on the same HARDCORE/INDIE ROCK circuit of VFW HALLS and CIVIC centers back in the 1980s. wherever i was abroad in some random part of SOUTHEAST ASIA or EASTERN EUROPE or SOUTH AMERICA at a local restaurant there inevitably seemed to be some reference to BOURDAIN and some episode of PARTS UNKNOWN after the fact either in tourist literature or by fellow travelers. i specifically remember having ceviche at a place in CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA and it turned out an episode was filmed there.
ugh. not gonna lie. it kind of annoyed me at the time since i feel like places should be exciting in and of themselves, not because some random AMERICAN celebrity anointed the place important. struck me as slightly colonialist in a way. i ate at places because that was where the locals ate.
what i failed to realize is that he connected his audience to the world, and specifically local communities on a very intimate level trough his capacity to appreciate all aspects of food.
i remember when i was abroad i'd seek out and buy dresses for my niece. by learning about traditional clothing across cultures and learning common inspirations and locally-sourced materials, you in turn learn a great deal about the native culture in a fairly intimate manner. i can recognize that same drive in BOURDAIN. also, its always nice to see an AMERICAN who is has the correct instinct to connect with other cultures without resorting to exoticizing or passing judgement, which is something i have long seen in travel series and documentaries meant for mass consumption. BOURDAIN spoke with eloquence, intention and genuine curiosity that was contagious to watch. i only wish more of my fellow countrymen could do the same when visiting abroad.
rest in power fellow world traveler and ally of global culture. rest well.
FROM THE BASEMENT was a live performance series produced by NIGEL GODRICH (RADIOHEAD, ROGER WATERS, BECK, R.E.M.) that lasted two seasons and aired intermittently on SKY TV from 2006 to 2009. shot and recorded without an audience, the bare studio room was an open canvas for the artists and directors, including SOPHIE MULLER, to present their music in manner they more or less had control over.
notable performances include those by PJ HARVEY, THE FALL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THUNDERCAT, THE KILLS, RADIOHEAD, CSS, SONIC YOUTH, FLEET FOXES, THE WHITE STRIPES and JARVIS COCKER of PULP
definitely worth checking out, especially for the quality of the live mixes, which honestly is a bit of a forgotten and under-appreciated art. enjoy.
photo manupulation by nacrowe
before the creation of its current STRING THEORY series of YOUTUBE videos showcasing modern guitarists and guitar-based songwriters speak about their influences and love of all things amplified, ERNIE BALL had briefly created a longer-format series of videos called THE PURSUIT OF TONE that treaded the same territory except much more in depth.
my assumption is that they realized that these long-form videos could generate more traffic and viewership on YOUTUBE if chopped up into smaller chunks a la STRING THEORY. its also why these longer form videos are no longer on the main channel, instead reposted by numerous unauthorized third parties on YOUTUBE. oh well.
the four i could locate following the inspirations, techniques and gear behind MIKE NESS of SOCIAL DISTORTION, CHICAGO BLUES icon BUDDY GUY, BILL DUFFY of THE CULT, TOM DELONGE of BLINK 182 and producer BUTCH WALKER. quite the diverse roster of guitarists and you really get a feel for their approach and individual aesthetic regarding the instrument.
i understand why they didn't pursue it further but i'm glad these exist. enjoy!
i cant recall when i became aware of the classic BRITISH comedy show YES MINISTER (BBC, 1980-84) but the premise of the show still feels relevant today in a political climate full of commonly used conspiracy terminology like the deep state and fake news.
the premise deals with a lowly minster newly sworn in to a minor department in the BRITISH bureaucracy. idealistic, wet behind the ears and naive to the machinations of government he is routinely put in ever more dire situations by his aide. every statement he makes is taken and interpreted in a manner that makes the minister look weak, uninformed and daft. as the aide and other "backbenchers" of the civil service are present and unchanging throughout all administrations, the show gives off the impression that it is really they that hold the reigns of power, not public officials. the main aide to the MP, expertly played by SIR NIGEL HAWTHORNE, is as ruthless and linguistically manipulative a character as SHAKESPEARE's IAGO.
comedy-wise it is a much smarter version of any BUGS BUNNY / ELMER FUDD cartoon, often lampooning the OXBRIDGE and ETON/HARROW/RADLEY crowd and their pretensions of incontestable refined sophistication and intelligence. the fact that an aide and an anonymous sea of civil servants could upend this dunce is almost a victory for common BRITAINS.
obviously now in the age of TRUMP this who premise is reversed, these civil servants seen at best as obstructionists to the will of the people and at worst an enemy within.
beyond interesting, and deeply hilarious, example of BRITISH comedy made even more timely in our current climate. whats even more biting is the fact that the follow-up series was YES PRIME MINISTER (BBC, 1986-88) as the blabbering idiot of an MP, deftly played by PAUL EDDINGTON, moved up the food chain, kinda like our resident idiot.
TWO MINUTES TO LATE NIGHT (clever IRON MAIDEN reference) was originally an all-METAL parody talk show hosted by GWARSENIO HALL (with MUTOID MAN as the house band!) and filmed at SAINT VITUS BAR in BROOKLYN. however, the show has really come into its own during the past 6 months of this god-awful pandemic era since they began remote producing these really well-mixed BEDROOM COVER videos of various members of the METAL extended family (SLUDGE, DEATH, THRASH, PROG and others), and even some INDIE ROCK distant cousins, covering classic songs by TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, RUSH, WHITE ZOMBIE, AC/DC, GUNS N ROSES, THE REPLACEMENTS & OZZY among others.
it seems safe to say that this sort of thing would never happen under regular conditions as most of these musicians would be buys with conflicting touring/recording schedules. that being said, the BEDROOM COVER lineups themselves are absolutely insane including members of MASTODON, CONVERGE, TOOL, PRIMUS, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, HIGH ON FIRE, CAVE IN, POISON THE WELL, UNEARTH, VOLUMES, CLUTCH, HAVOK, FUCKED AND BOUND, POTION, MUTOID MAN, VIO-LENCE and HATEBREED as well as decidedly less METAL-focused acts like TED LEO, PIEBALD, CHELSEA WOLFE, SLEIGH BELLS, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, RISE AGAINST, COHEED & CAMBRIA and MAX WEINBERG of the BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's E-STREET BAND (and former CONAN O'BRIEN cohost!).
what is super cool is that a recent episode had LILY MASTRODIMOS of JERSEY CITY INDIE ROCK band LONG NECK singing backup vocals on a cover of THE REPLACEMENTS "KIDS DON'T FOLLOW." we here at DEER GOD were lucky enough to record LONG NECK as part of our live performance series OFF THE M at TRANS PECOS in QUEENS not that long ago (performance linked HERE). its so cool to see her collaborating with members of RISE AGAINST and CONVERGE. congrats.
i'm sure this series will continue on so definitely keep a look out for it. way more interesting and entertaining then what passes for LATE NIGHT television these days.
photo manipulations by nacrowe
BRING ME THE HORIZON has always been a band that does its own thing. from their beginnings in SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND roughly 15 years ago when they were playing primarily METALCORE/DEATHCORE, there was always an inkling of melody in their somewhere that has only blossomed in the years since. at this point in their career they are sonically planets away from where they started, embracing TRIP HOP, EDM, SYNTH POP and SHOEGAZE elements while still absolutely crushing it with huge neanderthal DEATH METAL riffage. its an interesting concoction that is becoming ever more diversified with each release.
what is interesting about their latest single "PARASITE EVE" is how it expresses the sense of isolation, confusion and despair we all feel in this current era of the COVID-19 PANDEMIC. the title even harkens back to a pre-PANDEMIC mindset when people weren't taking it seriously. months later and the UNITED STATES is at 150,000 dead. its insane. there's a great line where frontman OLI SYKES intones "when we forget the infection, will we remember the lesson?" as an AMERICAN i doubt it which makes me feel helpless. i may be proactive in my wearing of masks, social distancing and maintaining good hygiene but not everyone is, some choose different and that is just so disconcerting, sad and just tragic. when this is over AMERICANS will probably go right back to their social media bubbles if they arent there already.
upon releasing it the band put out an ongoing series of videos on their youtube showcasing how they put it together while maintaining all those good practices during the pandemic. as someone who has been around recording studios a small amount, it is fascinating how they went about using TECHNOLOGY to track and make decisions in real-time while being in remote locations. its really a testament to their collective talent and vision and especially the PRODUCTION and ENGINEERING CAPABILITIES of composer / programmer / band member JORDAN FISH.
even if you are not a fan of BRING ME THE HORIZON, i suggest checking it out just to admire their ingenuity in making it happen in spite of the world seemingly collapsing in on itself. and check out their video for "PARASITE EVE" directed by SYKES linked below. its beyond amazing, im jealous of it.
years ago i spent a week the summer before i started graduate school at childhood friend's place in MONTREAL. what a gorgeous enchanted city, especially during the summertime. i'd never been to CANADA, only made fun of it my entire waking life at that point. besides eating smoked meat late night at the famous SCHWARTZ'S DELI and hanging out with my friend's peers and acquaintances, what i remember most fondly is watching this reality show KENNY VS. SPENNY (CBC, 2003-2010) on repeat.
it blew my mind.
first off, i hate REALITY TV as a matter of principal. i just feel that they are mindless dribble and the worst kind of voyeurism since they elevate attention-seeking cretins hungry for 10 minutes of celebrity. but this was different. the show is basically two friends (KENNY HOTZ and SPENCER RICE) that have a competition each week. they agree on a challenge and then the person that loses said competition gets humiliated by the other at the end of the show. KENNY is basically the devil incarnate, always trying to find loopholes to the rules and taking advantage of his friend SPENCER, who is likewise a stand-up yet gullible figure. some of these competitions are brutal, such as:
this show was on network television (CBC no less) and it was easily, scripted or not (i still dont know), the most mean-spirited thing i have seen on television to date. for the DEAD OCTOPUS episode KENNY slips SPENCER LSD and convinces him that he is being chased, resulting in SPENCER lying in a fetal position crying for help. for the KISSING THE MOST WOMEN episode KENNY decides to kiss SPENCER's sister in front of him. for the 10 MILE RACE episode KENNY knew SPENCER was more athletic so he got him away from the track where they were to race at a predetermined time by having SPENCER's mom convince her son that she got cancer and needed him at the hospital. the cruelty is absolutely boundless on this show, which blew me away because its CANADIAN. out of 80+ episodes i must have watched 50 over a few days. i was obsessed.
it was a weird trip because at some point on television there was a televised debate for some public office where one candidate said to the other that he "disagreed intensely based on firm principles." it was so CANADIAN because they didn't demean one another. fast forward a few nights of watching KENNY VS SPENNY and my opinion of CANADIANS has permanently shifted. plus deep down i know im more SPENCER than KENNY, sadly.
im telling you, this is the most debased, depraved, irredeemably cruel show i've ever watched. I TOTALLY RECOMMEND IT.
ABSTRACT: THE ART OF DESIGN is an ongoing NETFLIX series of documentaries that highlights exemplars associated with various fields of design. in this entry i am focused on the episode related to the inventive, progressive creative work of the modern DANISH architect BJARKE INGELS.
before watching this episode my prior entry point to his work was a critique by THE LIFE-SIZED CITY YOUTUBE series which criticized a pedestrian bridge to his new corporate complex in COPENHAGEN which serviced no target demographic and in fact made nearby major intersections less efficient. so there you go, my only bias. i've never been to DENMARK and have never seen INGELS' work in the flesh. what the episode presents is a young, ambitious architect that has an inclusive YES IS MORE mentality towards commissions and input by shareholders. his designs seem inventive, modern and slightly ostentatious, yet apparently are made on the cheap utilizing lesser unconventional materials.
i haven't been to DENMARK, but i have been all around EUROPE and what always struck me was this dual sword represented in the idea of tradition. this focus on tradition can be manifested in art, music, food, clothing and architecture and can either be stifling to creativity or a springboard. you get the sense that DANISH culture is rather reserved and its buildings highly practical with a certain uniformity that belies the homogeneity of its people. INGELS comes off as almost AMERICAN in both his ambition and sheer bravado. i mean the dude, made a ski slope on top of a power plant. i have no idea if this guy is a PRITZKER level talent or an ambitious yet reductive, over-hyped upstart.
not sure i really care either way whether or not he is a naive at best or a charlatan at worst, which seems to be the consensus of his detractors. his cost-effective, multi-use spaces provide a bit of poetry towards infrastructure concepts that are long overdue stateside. his energy and commitment to sustainability and efficiency as well as fun is sorely missed in outdated, eyesore AMERICAN infrastructure targets like airports, train stations and community centers.
we need rejuvenation. something to capture our imagination. just like our democracy and adherence to market capitalism, our architecture is outmoded. we need to get on that. rejuvenate. put a ski slop on a goddamn power plant already!