Grizzly Bear – Shields (2012, Warp)

The thing I really hate in (modern) indie singers is the idea that they’re sounding soulful because they’re using a ‘quiet’ voice. They’re not screaming, shouting or grunting, just lightly singing – it’s more of a moan, really – probably with their eyes closed. This is what seems to count for ‘soul’ in much modern indie music – a barely ushered sound.

It is the sound of boredom, of tedium, of emotionless gimboids whining their way around life, because to be angry, to be sad, to be anything would break the tedium of kitch consumer capitalism, of the dreamy state that doesn’t have to deal with how fucked up things are. You can buy a nicely coloured silicone spatula from than vaguely French/Danish/Swedish store, so you don’t have to contemplate on how shitty things really are. Oh Ernold Same, his life stays the same. It’s a sound that Damon Albarn has descended into, in lieu of some idea that he sounds mournful. Just sounds fucking bored and boring to me.

And this, at it’s heart, is my biggest problem with modern indie. Everybody involved in it, in some sort of post-Morrissey, post-Thom Yorke moan, has lost all interest in what the fuck they’re playing. Just close your eyes and user forth a moan and it’ll be like having a soul, you don’t have to have a soul.

It even transpire’s to the instruments, where they’re barely touched. Oh, FUCK OFF AND HIT SOMETHING, YOU ARSEHOLES. Feel something apart from TEDIUM.

Wankers.

I bought Grizzly Bear’s Shields after hearing a technical part of a song of theirs in a pub and thinking it sounded interesting, and quite exciting. When I dabbled with their stuff online, I thought maybe I need to listen to a whole album. Having got the whole album, I’m stupified to whatever I found interesting.

Some people might call this progressive indie, I’d call it boring as fuck.

Tight Bro’s FroM When Back When – Runnin’ Thru My Bones

I have this album because it features Jarred from Karp/Big Business/Melvins bass fame. His vocal performances on Big Business (particularly ‘The Drift’)/Melvins stuff peaked my ears when the Melvins first did the two-drummer/multi-vocal bits, and I became a big fan.

Tight Bro’s From Way Back When is a bit of an obscure find. It’s a hard rocking band in the chaotic MC5 hard rocking stereotype. Lots of double denim, bandanna’s, screeched vocals, bluesy rock riffs, etc. And, it’s fun. Lots of fun – very loud, lots of pumping energy, and vocals that seem grasped between jumping around.

And, I imagine this band must’ve been tremendous fun to be around – a late ’90s mindless party band that the local scene was crazy about. Lots of drunken parties, fists in the air.

I’ve never been much into this sort of blues hard rock. I love AC/DC, but in small doses. I can’t listen to it on loop. I always admired MC5, but I’m more a Stooge. So, I think I’m going to have to grow up about this one.

Let’s be harsh about this – it’s wilfully non-progressive, forward thinking. This is a good-time band for good-times that don’t need to be thought about. It is not adding anything to the genre, the songs are fine, but there’s not a real hardrocking genius in here. It’s an ode to hard rock, and if I’m having to be harsh, and essentially give up a Melvins-related collection, this has to go. It’s a decent album, but it’s not a forgotten gem.

Primus – Rhinoplasty

I did write quite a lengthy review, where I detailed how generally boring I find most of this record, how much I hate The Police, and find most prog rock very boring. At the same time, I said, I’m a massive Primus fan – they’re a very important band for me. This makes this a hard decision.

The studio tracks don’t do much, but the live renditions of ‘Tommy the Cat’ and ‘Bob’s Party Time’ find the band on fire. Tommy the Cat has great solo section, where they effortlessly go into ‘The Awakening’ (previously on a live album), and Bob’s Party Time is a little meandering, but has great moments.

So, it’s 7 boring tracks to 2 rather fine ones. 7 tracks with one or two redeemable features, with 2 nots. I was ready to chuck this during the first 7 – they’re fine (apart from The Police) really, but boring. I’m crumbling. This has to go on the keep-pile: the live tracks are too good. Every time they switch ‘on’, they’re on fire. If I’m resigning as a Claypool completist, I can maintain to be a Primus one. Thus, it is to stay.

Sexism in the Punk Rock Business

Not really going into depth of it. Just want to highlight something stupid.

Richie Ramone, the third Ramones drummer (there are a few people cashing in on the Ramones name. The other two being Marky – the second and v. important member; and CJ, who took over bass from DeeDee in late 1980s), is playing Camden Rocks. It sounds terrible:

But, looking into his band, what’s a highlight for me is the information on the bassist, Clare Misstake from Anti-Product (remember them?): ‘She brings a punk energy, aggression and power to the table that is unusual for someone of the female gender.’
Nice. Nice and sexist. Not only is SHE IN A BAND (WOW!), but she has PUNK ENERGY, AGGRESSION and POWER, like a MAN. I’ll leave this here*:
Or, as a friend, maybe I’m missing the humour well buried in the sentence…
*I refer to an old band ‘cos of the age of the main musician involved …

Becoming the Archetype – Terminate Damnation (2005, Abacus)

It would appear I’ve had this one for ten years now. I suspect it might have managed to get through at least one-or-two previous attempts to streamline my collective. The ability for this album to survive might reflect my soft-spot for (extreme?) metal: Metallica and Megadeth were amongst my first true (music) loves.

It is slightly harder to place than a lot of other things, but not because of it’s overwhelming inventiveness, simply because it’s metal, but it picks and chooses. The production is sleek and clean, well balanced, very professionally done, if amazingly boring.

The music is very professional, too. (is competent a nicer world?) It always stays within metal, but picks and choses from variable cups of extremities (melodic death metal, death metal, thrash, prog, etc.). Having said that, it’s not unfocused – it’s very much ‘itself’ without being able to identify whatever that is. To me, I suppose, the closest thing is a less relentless variation on The Black Dahlia Murder.

Having said that, The Black Dahlia Murder are made not only by their brutality but by their relentlessness – they don’t wait for you, they demand you pay attention. They’re an incredible band, with a great vocalist, and that’s why they’re not about to be chucked. But, while this comparison may be unfair in some ways (and very fair is others), I have to ask myself this:

Since I know I enjoy The Black Dahlia Murder so much, will I ever go to something that is very competent, well played, well produced, quite well written, but ultimately lacks of the personality (awesomeness) and sense of grandisoty of TBDM?

Ultimately, no. This leaves because it is good, but not good enough. It is, alas, ever so slightly too generic and will always come second to TBDM.

I write this while only on the fourth song – Elegy – and it’s end takes forever. Just fuck off already. 9 minutes, plonking piano? Sad, quiet end. Nah. Not in the middle of an 11 track album, not for me. In the end, it goes back to what The Cat in Red Dwarf once remarked, ‘I’d go with Betty, but I’d always be thinking about Wilma.’

War From a Harlot’s Mouth – In Shaols (2009, Lifeforce)

Some of these albums are albums I got when I was doing some music journalism. My notes on this album tell me this is the case with WFAHM – I reviewed them for RockMidgets. I can’t remember what I said at the time, but I kept the album so many I enjoyed it. Am I going to go back on that?

No, part of me enjoys this. It’s a technically impressive slice of modern metalcore – lots of extreme metal in there, gang vocals get a shout (ha!), lots of technical guitaring, very tight drums, lots of downbeats. It’s progressive metalcore, not completely dissimilar to a much-more generic Between the Buried and Me – chop-and-change tech metalcore, perhaps?

However, it’s not very catchy, and while it’s musically impressive, it’s a bit thin on ideas, innovation and real adventure. The guitarist plays some nice jazz-y chords, but that’s all they do – no jazz voice, as it were. Just strummed chords. Musically, it’s from a time when many bands doing this stuff didn’t really believe in chorus’, but used beat down fills and tempo changes to catch people’s attentions, and adventure was chopping and changing between different heaviness and then calming down for a a jazz chord.

The opening to the song ‘Copyriot’ (err) is probably the best part of the album – it’s akin to a good technical grindcore Cephalic Carnage riff. And then the song finishes just as it really gets going, all too short. My ears just picked up on a great riff, then they changed and finished the song after a short tapping riff. A shame.

And there are some other very nice moments, and I’d probably give this a decent review. 3/5 perhaps. By, in the end it’s a bit too ‘scene’ for my tastes, as it’s almost too knowing and everything’s too competent. It’s what I remember thinking of as scenester metal at the time.

Have I enjoyed listening to it? Bits and pieces. Do I have any reason to keep it? Not really. It’s a goer – I’ve got other things that fill this hole better.

Gallows – Orchestra of Wolves (2006, WB).

I’m not entirely sure why I have this. It’s a promo copy, but they were fucking everywhere back in 2006 – couldn’t give them away. There was a strong dose of scepticism about this band amongst my ‘punk’ friends – a hardcore band’s debut was on a major label just as the ‘scene’ had a very distinct (and marketable?) image. It was hard not to be sceptical – this just seemed like an attempt at a cash in from Warner Brothers.

I tried to understand the appeal of this at the time and failed to. It really did seem an cash in – there was no personality. What was the attraction? Where people really that into it? I’ve listened to this, then, a handful of times and didn’t get it. And this is the first time for a good few years.

Lots of the playing seems a bit lacklustre and quite boring. There are some good riffs, but there are also a high percentage that are simply taken off the shelf. On reflection, this is not very far in, but a lot of the hardcore from mid-00s seems to take a lot of ideas from related genre and not really go anywhere with them. The music seems to doing things for the sake of doing them, rather than the necessity or for benefit of doing them.

There are beat downs, melodic octave riffs, pull-off riffs, etc. It becomes hard to figure one song from another; hard to find inspiration in a lacklustre go-to-drum beat. I guess I just don’t get the appeal of this band and find it emotionally and musically completely uninteresting. It’s a goer.

Smash It Up ….?

I have a lot of music, and I’ve just moved. Putting all my stuff in boxes – the albums came up to around seven boxes – and getting them out again has made me want to ‘streamline’ my collection*. My friend has furthered this process by waging that I won’t have a net loss of 30 albums by the end of the year. As such, I thought I might try and give an album review for each that I don’t feel an easy ‘yes’ to, hoping that will help come to terms with what I want to keep and what I want to throw away. I don’t expect these to be exhaustive, but some of them might be fun. I include an the albums list below.

* I’ve done this with DVDs and it was easy: Keep Jackie Chan, Chan Wook Park and Terry Gilliam films. And Red Dwarf 1-6. Chuck everything else. Books are difficult in a different way – I don’t necessarily want to read Steinbeck’s East of Eden again, but it’s such an astonishing book I feel a need to have it.

(bold means staying; strikeout means gone)

38 – 48= 10

Alice in Chains – Live

Anti Flag – The People or the Gun

Becoming the Archetype – Terminate Damnation

Behold … The Arctopus – Skullgrid

Beirut – Gulag Orkestra

Between the Buried and me – Alaska

Between the Buried and Me – The Silent Circus

Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth

Blind Guardian – Imagination on the Other Side

Blind Guardian – Somewhere Here Far Beyond

Blind Guardian – Tales from the Twilight World

Carcass – Heartwork

Carter, Ron – The Golden Striker

Cash, Johnny – At San Quentin

Clark, Stanley – School Days

Clark, Stanley – Live at the Greek

Clark, Stanley – East Drive River

Claypool’s, Les – Frog Brigade – playing Pink Floyd

Claypool’s, Les – Frog Brigade – Fearless Flying

Claypool’s, Les – Frog Brigade – Purple Onion

Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains – The Big Eyeball in the Sky

Common Rider – Last Wave Rockers

Cut Ups, The – The High and Mighty

Darkane – Insanity

Darkane – Layers of Lies

Darkane – Demonic Art

Darkest Hour – So Sedate So Secure

Dauntless Elite – Graft

Deadline – More To It Than Meets the Eye (CD)

Death by Stereo – Death for Life

Death by Stereo – Death is my Only Friend

Deftones – Live

Dizzee Rascal – Showtime

Dizzee Rascal – M4ths+Englis5h

Doyles, Daniel Francis – We Bet Our Money On You

Dresden Dolls

Entombed – Wolverine Blues

Entombed – Same Difference

Evile – Five Serpent’s Teeth

Fear Factory – Transgression

Fear Factory – Archetype

Flipper – Generic

Flipper – Gone Fishin’

Foo Fighters – The Colour and the Shape

Full Blown Chaos – Heavy Lies the Crown

Gallhammer – Ill Innocence

Gallows – Orchestra of Wolves

Ghost Mice – The Debt of the Dead

Girls against Boys – Cruise Yourself

Good Riddance – Remain in the Memory – The Final Slow (Live)

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Harkuknen – s/t

Harvey, PJ – Is This Desire?

Haust – Powers of Horror

Hero Destroyed – s/t

I Farm – IV

Jeff the Brotherhood – Heavy Days

Joe Viterbo – Devil on my Shoulder

Kennedy, Nigel – Quintet – Shhh!

Long Beach Dub Allstars – Wonders of the World

Long Beach Dub Allstars – Right Back

Mad Sin – God Save the Sin

Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame

Magazine – Secondhand Daylight

Megadeth – Youthanasia

Megadeth – Cryptic Writings

Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausage

Melvins – Hold It In

METZ – s/t

Monkey Shuffle – The Feast of A Thousand Kings

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides

Moxy Fruvous – You Will Go To The Moon

MVRMVR – s/t

Napalm Death – Enemies of the Music Business

New York Dolls – One Day it Will Please Us to Remember EVEN this

Nico’s Alchemy – Fundamental Darkness

No WTO Combo, the – Live From the Battle in Seattle

Obituary – Slowly we Rot/Cause of Death

Obituary – World Demise

Opeth – Still Life

Old Man Child – In Defiance of Existence

Pantera – 101 Proof (Live)

Pastorius, Jaco – Word of Mouth

Patton, Mike – Mondo Cane

Primus – Rhinoplastic

Prince – album came with the Mail on Sunday

Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

Quack Quack – Slow As An Eyeball

Rancid – Indestructible

Roots – Game Theory

Rising Sons featuring Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal – s/t

Easy Star Allstars – Radiodread

Rollins, Sonny – Work Time

Rolo Tomassi – ep

Ruggiero, Vic – Something in my Blindspot

Sausage – Riddles are Abound Tonight

Save Ferris – Modified

Science Faxtion – Living on Another Frequency

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Shark Soup – Fatlip Showbox

Shelter – When 20 Summers Pass

Shelter – The Purpose, The Passion

Sick of it All – Outtakes for the Outcast

Sick of it All – Death to Tyrants

Sick of it All – Based on a True Story (w/ bonus DVD)

Slayer – Decade of Aggression 

Slayer – Diabolus in Musica

Slayer – God Hates Us All

Static X – Machine

Stern, Marnie – The Chronicles of Marnia

Streetlight Manifesto – Keasbey Nights

Streetlight Manifesto – Somewhere in the Between

Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands that Thieve

Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music …

Squarepusher – Go Plastic

SSS – s/t

Stalkers – s/t

Stampin’ Ground – An Expression of Repressed Violence

Stiff Little Fingers – Nobody’s Heroes

Taraf de Haidouks – Maskarada

Tatum, Art – Piano Starts Here

The Tim Version – Decline of the Southern Gentlemen

This Bike is a Pipe Bomb – Dance Party With …

Th’ Legengary Shack Shakers – Pandelirium

Thunders, Johnny, and the Hearbreakers – Thunderstorm in Detroit (Live)

Tight Bros from Way Back When – Runnin’ Through My Bones

US Bombs – The World

Venom – Resirrection

Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett

War From A Harlots Mouth – In Shoals

World/Inferno Friendship Society – Red Eyed Soul

Wyatt, Robert – The End of an Ear

Zappa, Frank – Over-nite Sensation

Zappa, Frank/Mothers of Invention – We’re Only In It For The Money

Zatopeks – Damn Fool Music

Zimmer’s Hole – Bound by Fire

Zu w/ Mats Gustafsson – How to Raise an Ox

The Unbearable Whiteness of being white and DIY and Pitchfork do publish some bullshit.

This is a bad idea. I acknowledge that this is a bad idea. Don’t talk about sex, religion, politics, gender or race over the dinner table, children. Or breakfast bar. But, some moron on Pitchfork has written about issues of race in ‘indie and DIY underground‘, that bastion of stupidity, shit music, and dumbfuckery.

Now, what has got me about this is that it’s essentially an article full of straw men, of taking individual artists to represent the entire and total experience. No more-than-representational theory here, don’t worry – if you can be equated with white people, you’re bad.

Now, don’t get me wrong (or do. fuck you). I hardly read or care about any of the artists involved in that article. I saw Bats for Lashes once and thought it was sub-Bjork shoe-gazing mimicry, and couldn’t give a fuck after that. Music school rubbish. The pPtchfork article suggests that part of Bats of Arses success has been to not address her status as a person of non-white ethnicity.

The article mentions the Kanye West + Glastonbury hoohaa, saying it’s his non-whiteness that is a problem for these people. No, it’s his personality and music that is the problem. Furthermore, whatthefuckdoGlastonburyorKanyehavetodowithindiefuckingmusic? Excuse me, I meant: what the fuck do Glastonbury or Kanye West have to do with indie fucking music?

Diddly fucking squat, that’s what. If people had protested against him headlining Field Day, that’s more complicated.

So, where’s the DIY aspect of this article, at all? Let’s take MIA – she’s signed to Interscope, which includes Eminem, Madonna, Dr Dre, Maroon 5, No Doubt, etc. Vampire Weekend are admittedly signed to an indie label, XL – one of those massive ones, who has ‘worked with’ (as the Wikipedia entry goes) those nobodies The Prodigy, Radiohead, Beck, Adele, White Stripes.

The article also has a particular issue with feminist punk icon Kathleen Hanna, for her being white. I admit don’t get the swiping at Hanna – is it because she’s not black? Huh? Because she’s been vaguely successful at being confrontational and legitimately, for the most part, DIY (only 1 album on a major label with Le Tigre). She’s successful because she’s white, it would seem. That’s my interpretation of the article, anyway. So, the legendary-punk status of Poly Styrene is because she was white, too, even though she, err … wasn’t?

Huh? But, naming individual artists doesn’t really get us anywhere useful. Lets not talk about Bloc Party. (Please. They’re shit.) The fact of the matter is that it is true that non-white ethnicities are under represented in indie music circles. Although, no where does the article define what they mean by indie, simultaneously equating it with something like Glastonbury and something as limited at a Riot Grrl, Hanna, who arguably doesn’t have much name-recognition outside that scene, and is more to do with DIY punk scenes than Belle and Sebastian type ‘indie’.

Capitalism has issues with race, that is undeniable – but how the music industry has worked to divide peoples is never addressed in this article. Or mentioned. Instead, it sets the white indie scene up as an open democracy where the audience has elected white people, or people of non-white ethnicity who don’t address that whiteness, as the ambassadors. It completely ignores the complexity of the social and cultural scenes that these music stems from, and their relationships with capitalism and how capitalist organisations have long worked to divide music along racial lines.

‘Country’ music and what was called ‘race’ music where more or less the same thing, but they were segregated through and by the industry when it came time to exploit music for money.

And underground DIY cultures that preside on the more guitar-based end of things has problems with its lack of representation, that’s also undeniably true. But, while a vast majority of ‘rock’ (metal, punk, indie, etc.) music I listen to post-1950s is by white musicians, so most of the funk, hiphop and soul I listen to happens to be by black musicians.

So, while I don’t deny the problem the Pitchfork points towards, it’s analysis of it is blinkered. The problem isn’t just the scene, it’s everything. For a long while, women playing guitar wasn’t a very widely done thing in the DIY scenes, and it’s still not a norm, so whatever difference Riot Grrl has done to address this is a good thing. Plus, couldn’t a problem with MIA with her success to mainstream audiences is that she’s too punk or a bit too odd for ‘indie’ masses? The pushing of weird music is not that well recognised in mainstream culture. Plus, she’s now on a major label – get Rick Rubin (Yes, a white man … who is a hiphop and metal pioneer. Is his success because he’s white or just fucking brilliant at his job?) in and she’ll go far, I’m sure.

And so another issue arises with the pitchfork article … what do they mean by success?

To Shut the Fuck Up, Or Not to Shut the Fuck Up?

Shhhhhh! says someone, trying to stop a conversation. Or, someone turns around and looks at you, somehow telling you to shut the fuck up.

Now, there’s a festival for people who them wot don’t like talking people at the gigs they attend. But, why should people be silent at gigs? What a bunch of fucking losers.

There are signs in jazz clubs nowadays ask people to be respectful of the band … but, why? The article in the Independent writes of ‘Laura Moody’, who ‘is a fan of quiet listening and a classically-trained musician who usually only plays quiet-music events.’

But, classical music never used to be like that, when it had a mass audiance. According to The New Yorker music critic, Alex Ross, this is a somewhat modern invention. ‘Classical’ gigs used to be raucous, where the music would have to fight for attention – which, he suggests (if my memory serves me whatsoever), is why a lot of pre-modern era classical music was big, bombastic, sweeping, over-the-top, etc.

My idea of a jazz club was of people talking and smoking, and the job of the soloist was to grab your attention, make your eyes pop out and your ears bleed. None of this we-must-have-your-respect bullshit.

Occasionally, it’s fine to tell people to shut up. At a Fang Island show in London, three people in front of me stood right by the pit (my favourite place) and had a conversation the entire time. That’s fucking annoying – 1. they didn’t stop; 2. they were shouting because there wasn’t very much room there. Ruined what was otherwise an astonishing gig.

But, if people are talking all the way through most of your gigs, you go and see really fucking boring music that is not deserving of attention. Either that, or get closer to the fucking stage where you can’t hear them and the band are actually playing to you.

Stop putting artists on a pedestal that they’ve never fought for. To the man at Television at the Roundhouse in 2014 – don’t shh, fucking talk. They were bloody terrible at that gig, why would I pay attention to that?!

People’ll shut the fuck up when you’re good enough to shut the fuck up for. Most of the time. Other times, tell them to shut the fuck up.

Or, maybe the problem is the lack of mass audience for these things anymore. That it is about disdaining how most people have to experience gigs. It’s always about creating something exclusive.