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Archive for the ‘Butthole Surfers’ Category

empireSOUNDTRACK: THE DEAD MILKMEN-“Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes and How!” (1990).

deadmYesterday’s album could only be followed by this song.  The Dead Milkmen, always willing to mock, wrote this song with that hilarious title.  Interestingly, the “buttholes” part is a reference to Gibby Haynes, singer for the Butthole Surfers, on lead vocals.

Despite the title, the song itself sounds nothing like a progressive rock song.  It’s only 3 and a half minutes.  On the other hand it is almost entirely instrumental and changes style about 3/4 of the way through.

But check out the topical lyrics:

We’ve got to get together
And we’ve got to save the snails
Let’s board the purple spaceships
Before they set sail

I want a Yes reunion
And you know I want one now
No more Anderson
Walkman, Butthole Surfers and How!

Listening to the opera
And smoking angels’ dust
You can’t get more fucking
Progressive than us

The guitar riff is pretty interesting and angular.  And it’s sloppy in a wonderful Dead Milkmen way with stupid sound effects at the end of each line.  And of course, it’s just funny.

[READ: April 12, 2015] Empire State

I was delighted to see this book at the library.  I have really enjoyed the four other books by Shiga that I’ve read (I was sure I’d read more, but I guess they were all close together).  This one comes before his mind bending Meanwhile.  While it is a pretty straightforward narrative, he does play with time a bit to make the story a little more interesting.

One of the great things about Shiga’s art is how simplistic (I would almost say childish, but that’s not right or fair) his drawings look.  His characters are pretty much round-headed with round eyes and oval mouth.  They could be done on a computer but I hope they’re not.

The story starts in Oakland, CA, where Jimmy is talking to his best friend, Sara.  They talk about her date last night and the creepy Craigslist date she went on recently.  All the guy’s profile said was looking for a nice Jewish girl.  And Jimmy (who is Chinese) says that he may have to use that line next time. (more…)

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locke6 SOUNDTRACK: HAPPY FLOWERS-“All I Got Were Clothes Christmas” (1986).

godsAfter all of this mostly respectful Christmas music, I had to throw in one crazy stupid ugly horribly song.  But that’s mostly because I forgot it existed until I stumbled on it the other day.  The Happy Flowers were a terrible band (seriously).  They were the kind of band that seemed to blossom in the late 1980s which don’t seem to exist anymore (for better or worse).  They were beyond noise, this was just a crazy noisy pile of sound with screamed lyrics that have nothing to do with the music.

I loved them.  But not really, because they were terrible.  But it was fun to know that people not only made music like this but that it could find a record label (and presumably an audience).  I used to enjoy playing their songs on my radio show.

The Happy Flowers were two guys from Charlottesville, VA.  They were in another band (the Landlords) so presumably they could play their instruments, although I don’t know that band at all.  Their stage names were Mr. Horribly Charred Infant, (drums, vocals) and Mr. Anus, (guitar, vocals), so you have a sense of what we’re dealing with here.  And yet you really can’t be prepared for it.

This song is basically just feedback and two adult men screaming about how they wanted to get toys for Christmas but all they got was clothes.  For four minutes.  And it made it onto the above compilation, God’s Favorite Dog, with Big Black and the Butthole Surfers.

If your Christmas didn’t live up to your expectations, perhaps you need to hear this.  Or perhaps not.

[READ: December 29, 2014] Locke & Key 6

I knew I couldn’t hold out until the new year to finish this series.  I was compelled to keep going.  There was nothing I could do to hold back, as if some kind of spirit kept pulling me towards the books.

And the ending did not disappoint.  Well, it did disappoint a little in that so many people ended up dead.  I couldn’t believe how many people who I grew to care about were killed in various ways.

There’s really no time for flashbacks in this book, although we do get occasional look-backs.  We see the Locke kids make up with the friends that they have alienated. We also see that the kids’ mom has been sober for 30 days (this whole series takes place over a much longer time than it seems).

We also see Rufus come to say goodbye to the Locke family. While he is waiting for Bode to come up from the water, Rufus sees Bode’s ghost who tells him that the person in Bode’s body is not him but is actually Scout.  Rufus immediately attacks Bode when he arrives.  This send Rufus to the same institution that Erin Voss is in.  While he’s in there we see him already making plans to escape.  And it turns out that Erin Voss is able to communicate with him (sort of) and she is able to help in her own way. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ADELE-“Someone Like You” (2011).

I’ve been hearing this song in unlikely places–like on a radio station that plays The Foo Fighters and the Butthole Surfers.  So I thought I’d actually listen to it and see what the fuss was about.  It has been selected as one of 2011’s Best Songs (So Far) on NPR  (where you can hear it in full). 

It’s a sparse piano song, a pretty, desolate melody .  But the real selling point is Adele’s voice.  I had heard her described as a kind of Amy Winehouse (who I don’t like) or a sort of R&B siren,(which I wouldn’t like).  But she has a kind of husky voice that belies its power.  In some ways she reminds me of a more mature Fiona Apple.

On this song at least, it’s just her and her piano–no pretensions to genre or style, just an honest emotionally naked song.

The melody isn’t obvious–it’s not an immediate grab you by the lapels hit.  But it is haunting and her voice supplies the bulk of the tune.  She can carry the whole thing with ease.

I’m not sure if it fits on that radio station, but it is certainly a wonderful song.  I wonder what the rest of the album sounds like.

[READ: October 31, 2011] “One Year: Storyteller-in-Chief”

I am posting this review today because it is Election Day (in New Jersey, anyhow).  One can only hope we get some of the awful incumbents out of town, but we’ll see.  I’m also posting this now because I feel the need to vent about our current Presidential Candidates.  Not the men and woman themselves (who are all barely qualified to be in charge of their own car keys, much less the country).  What I’m venting about is the fact that we know these men and women are candidates at all.  Or the fact that so many prospective candidates have already dropped out.

The election is a year away.  A YEAR.  It’s bad enough that the media talks about everything the President does in terms of how it will affect his chances for re-election (again, A YEAR away) but that we have all of these bozos running around talking about what a bad job the President is doing as well is just dreadful.  And basically, instead of actually doing something about being President, he must do triage on the damage these loose cannons are causing.  True, Obama appears to be somewhat less than concerned with what they say about him, but the fact that everything that happens in Washington is foreshadowing the next election, it sure makes it hard for anything to get done.

Anyhow, in other countries, the citizens have a few months at most to decide who their candidates will be.  And a few months in our country would translate to much less expensive candidacies, much more opportunities for fringe candidates to be heard (for better or worse) and less candidate exhaustion (both them and us).  Why in the hell does it take eighteen months to run for President?  In what way are we served by having all of these people running for office for over a year?  And things are only going to get worse now that so many states have moved their primaries up so far (January 3, Iowa?  Really?  You want to narrow down the presidential choices ten months before the election?).

I know that my opinion won’t even cast a ripple in Washington, but come on.  I propose that people aren’t even allowed to declare their candidacy until the May before the election.  That gives them six months, which should be ample time to run an election campaign.  Have the primaries in August and September and then the general election in November.  That gives two months early in the season for primary debates and it gives a month and change after the primaries for general election debates.  This way the President isn’t distracted with running a reelection campaign and the populace (and the media) isn’t distracted for 18 months with candidates running or not running.  And seriously, if you can’t be organized enough to win an election in 6 months, you don’t deserve to be President.  How can I get this policy enacted?

This article from Diaz is a very good one.  It criticizes President Obama for not being a good storyteller.  He was an excellent storyteller before he became President (both as a campaigner and an author-Diaz cites Dreams from My Father in particular).  But since he has taken office his storytelling has lapsed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAYYORS: 3 EPs (online only) (2008-2009).

I learned about Mayyors from the NPR’s Best Metal and Outer Sounds releases of 2009 on All Songs Considered.  I enjoyed Viking’s picks for 2010 quite a bit so I thought I’d investigate his previous years’ selections.  I’d never heard of Mayyors before, but he makes the band sound so intriguing (and dirty).

The write up is so wonderfully enigmatic that I had to find the tracks online.  I mean, how can you pass up this:

This is a plea to Mayyors: If you’re going to release one of the ugliest pieces of noise rock this side of The Jesus Lizard, please start issuing your music in editions bigger than David Yow’s beer gut. After a couple of ripped 7″ singles made the rounds on blogs last year, those seeking the puss-popping skronk of Mayyors scavenged message boards and listservs to get their hands on the next limited affair. (After all, these Sacramento-based dudes don’t have a Web site or any known email addresses. Punk rock, I guess.) The Deads 12″ EP significantly dirties the rock gene pool with nauseating feedback and power chords dumber than the actual mud driven over the orange covers. Once again, Google is your friend.

That link to Google is the only way I was able to find these songs.

So Mayyors have released three EPs since 2008.  Each had a pressing of about ten copies, apparently.  You really can’t find any information about them online.  I don’t even understand how the band plays shows since their total recorded output is about 2o minutes long.  But I was able to get all 9 songs.

Having said all, that I don’t always like the music.  It hurts your head. The general sound is really downtuned sludge rock.  It’s not squealy feedbacky noise, it’s just distorted guitars played very loud and fast with vocals that are pretty incomprehensible (with lots of echo!). I have no idea what he’s singing about.  I’m sure it’s not very nice.  But I feel like their music would be even more subversive if they sang about love and kindness (or like the cover of Megan’s LOLZ: unicorns and rainbows).

The first EP: Marines Dot Com has two tracks “Metro” (3:08) and “Fatigure” (3:35).  “Metro” reminds me a lot of early Butthole Surfers.  “Fatigure” has a discernible riff (which is of course very downtuned.  It’s entirely possible they have only a guitar and a bass.  About half way through, the song changes into a noise-fest.  Of course, nearly 4 minutes of noise is pretty tough to handle.  Especially since the noise is sludgy and loud loud loud.

The middle EP, Megan’s LOLZ, is my favorite.  Three songs: “Intro” (0:59), “Airplanes” (3:23), “White Jeep” (2:18).  The noise and sludge is still there, but you can actually hear nascent riffs under all the noise. It also seems a little crisper (or something), which makes the tracks stand out a little more.

“Intro” actually plays around with different kinds of noise, suggesting they’re in for something new on this EP (of course, it’s still buried under noise and sludge).  “Airplanes” has another discernible riff, although it does sound like it’s recorded in an airplane hangar.  “White Jeep” has a similar (if not the same) riff, but it plays a bit more with feedback and genuinely piecing noises.  (There’s even a  kind of guitar solo).

The latest EP, the one that Viking likes, is called Deads.  It has four songs: “The Crawl” (1:41), “Ghost Punch” (1:41) “Clicks (2:42) and “Deads” (2:53).  And as he describes above, the cover does appear to have been driven over by a muddy truck.

This album is a bit more “polished” (how dare anyone use that word).  In fact the sludge doesn’t really get put onto “The Crawl” until about 50 seconds in.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a sludgy mess, but you can sort of tell what instruments there are and that there’s a guy singing.   “Ghost Punch” sounds a bit more death metal-like than their other songs, although it’s so tinny, it sort of transcends the genre somewhat.  “Clicks” seems to be the song of choice for examples of what Mayyors can do.  It’s got intense delay, squealing noises and a vocal melody! (Do I hear screams of sellout?).  Hear it and “The Crawl” here.  “Deads” actually has staccato notes in the opening, but it’s all sludge from there.

And then there’s silence.  Blissful silence.  Mayyors: Not for the sensitive.

[READ: March 5, 2011] “The Other Place”

Mary Gaitskill is generally acknowledged as a master short story writer.  I haven’t read all that much by her.

I’m not sure if her stories are all as dark as this one, but man this is quite dark, indeed.  It’s about a man and his son.  Well, actually it begins with the son.  He is into guns. Like really into guns. He draws them, he makes stories about them, he plays guns outside even if they don’t have guns.  He also loves violence on TV, especially if it’s funny.  The boy is thirteen.

When I read the story, I initially thought that the father was upset or worried about this gun fascination, because he opens the story with “How did this happen?”  But he seems to know how this happened: “The way everything does, of course.  One thing follows another, naturally.”

And so, with the wrong impression, I couldn’t quite understand why the father was so surprised by the son’s behavior because as the father relates his own past, it’s pretty full of violence itself.  Indeed, as it progresses, it seems like the son inherited all of his father’s traits. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: fIREHOSE-Live Totem Pole EP (1992).

Listening to Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” reminded me that I knew a live version from somewhere else.  And, with a little help from the web, I remembered it was here.

fIREHOSE is Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen band, and they are a lot of fun (and even managed to get a major label deal before breaking up.  This (apparently really hard to find) EP is a great, weird collection of covers: Blue Oyster Cult’s “The Red and the Black”; Public Enemy’s “Sophisticated Bitch” (yes you read that right); The Butthole Surfer’s “Revolution (Part 2)” (with the repeated coda of “Garry Shandling, Garry Shandling”; Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” and Wire’s “Mannequin”.  There’s two Watt-written songs, “What Gets Heard” (from fROMOHIO) and “Makin’ the Freeway” (from if’n).

The covers are universally solid.  The band sounds punky and kind of sloppy and fun (not so terribly virtuosic on the solos), and they bring an amazing vitality to these songs.  The Public Enemy song is probably the biggest surprise as it sounds fantastic in this rocking band set up (although the original rocks pretty hard too, frankly).  And “Slack” is possibly even faster and punkier than the original (it sounds awesome here).  Interestingly to me, “Mannequin” sounds completely like an SST track (which if you know the label will make sense and if you don’t, it won’t) even though it’s a Wire song (and not released on SST).

I’d always known that Watt was a mean bassist, but man, he is wild on this disc.  The runs and fills he puts in all over the disc are great.  “What Gets Heard” has some great slap bass and “Freeway” is one of Watt’s weird and delightful spoken rants with fantastic bass fills.

fIREHOSE may not have always been brilliant, but they had moments of awesomeness.

[READ: October 16, 2010] “The Failure”

This story is part of the 1999 New Yorkers‘ 20 Under 40 collection (it’s the first story that was not included in that issue).  Its also the first story by Franzen that I have read.

It’s tempting, since I’m in a David Foster Wallace mood, to think that DFW was some kind of inspiration for Franzen (they were friends, after all).  The opening of the story talks a bit about cruise ships.  And Wallace’s “Shipping Out” was published in Harper’s just a couple of years before this.  Having said that, aside from the fact that the protagonist’s parents are taking a cruise (and there’s some cruise-mocking), the story doesn’t have much else in common with the piece, so we’ll get past that.

The story was excerpted in the main 20 Under 40 issue (the first few paragraphs), and I was intrigued, although the excerpt didn’t really indicate where the story would go at all.

Chip is a midwestern guy who has moved to New York City. He has lost a teaching job (for a very bad reason) and is now trying to survive as a writer.  His parents are in town briefly because they are taking a cruise out of New York.  And as he updates his mother and father on what he’s been up to, the list of minor failures (the ones he admits to and doesn’t) grows and grows.  And it’s clear from his mother’s talk that she’s more than a little disappointed in his reality. (more…)

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