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Archive for the ‘Motorhead’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHOEBE BRIDGERS-“Smoke Signals” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 22, 2017).

Bridgers’ “Smoke Signals” is a beautiful haunting song that reminds me a little of Liz Phair in her delivery.  I had heard this song before and really liked it–I especially loved the arrangement, which had echoing guitars that reminded me of Twin Peaks.

“For this Tiny Desk, Bridgers and percussionist Marshall Vore came to Bob Boilen’s hotel room just before midnight to play the striking ‘Smoke Signals.'”  The music is great with Bridgers’ open chords, and Vore’s suitcase percussion, children’s toy bells and vocal harmony.  The cho and vibe are removed in this version which means you must really listen to the words–which are pretty intense.

I like how she talks about musicians in such an interesting way:

Singing ‘Ace of Spades’ when Lemmy died / nothing’s changed LA’s alright

and then later

Its been on my mind since Bowie died/ just checking out to hide from life

The toy bells and harmonies are a really nice touch, but again, it’s those lyrics:

I went with you up to
The place you grew up in
We spent a week in the cold
Just long enough to
“Walden” it with you
Any longer, it would have got old

This song is a little too slow for my preferences, but it’s very beautiful. I’d like to hear more from her.

[READ: February 5, 2016] The Good Neighbors: Kin

This book was on the new shelf at my library.  And since I like Black and Naifeh I was grabbed it.  Then I saw that it actually came out in 2008. Whatever.

It also turns out that my library has book two of this trilogy but neither had book 3 (which came out in 2010).  What gives?

Holly Black is best known (by me anyway) as having written The Spiderwick Chronicles.

This story is actually a YA graphic novel and it definitely skews older.  But like Spiderwick, it deals with a normally unseen world coming into contact with out own. (more…)

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ellsmere SOUNDTRACK: PROBOT-Probot (2004).

probotAfter all of the Dave Grohl love I’ve been sending his way, Grohl went and fell off a stage and broke his leg.  But, he is so badass (and such a thoughtful musician), that he went to the hospital, got his leg fixed up and went back on stage to finish the set!  Holy cow.

This is amazing (and he must have incredible endorphins (or something else) to be able to do this (the video is long because it shows his re-arrival):

Grohl has always been very open about his love of heavy metal–and the liner notes here go into pretty good detail about he bands he grew up listening to.  He wanted to create a kind of tribute/dream lineup album of metal vocalists.  As far as I can tell he was sitting around and banging away riffs and every time he got one that he liked, he recorded it.  He eventually added bass and drums and made demo tapes out of them.  Then he contacted some of his favorite metal singers from when he was a kid and asked them to write lyrics and sing.

I assume that Grohl sent the demos that sounded most like the bands to the appropriate singer, because so many of them are spot on for the original bands.  The Venom song sounds completely like Venom (Cronos’ bass certainty helps) and it’s one of the best songs here.  I don’t know Sepultura that well, but the music fits perfectly with Cavalera’s style.  And this song is just fantastic.

The Lemmy song sounds unmistakably Motörhead, again possibly because Lemmy plays bass, but the riff is pure Motörhead.  It’s another great song and one that the Foo Fighters have played live.

The song with Mike Dean is very punk, very C.O.C.  It’s followed by another punk/metal song from D.R.I.  This song also matches perfectly with Brecht’s style of singing on the more metal side of D.R.I..

Lee Dorrian used to sing in a guttural cookie monster growl with Napalm Death, but in Cathedral, he turned to proper singing.  I don’t know Cathedral, but the main riff coupled with the twin guitar solo notes from Thayil make a great epic song, especially that mosh section in the middle (I didn’t think Cathedral did mosh but whatever), although at 6 minutes it does go on a bit.

I also don’t know Wino, so I don’t know if this is the kind of thing he sang on, although I do hear a bit of Saint Vitus vibe from it.  There’s a really long middle section which is interesting for the backwards guitar solo, and while it’s a little long, when it comes out of that, the heaviness is really great.

Tom Warrior is a fascinating guy with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, so the weird industrial sound on top of the heavy bass is pretty interesting.  There’s no way Grohl could hope to emulate Voivod’s Piggy, so he doesn’t even try.  Rather than playing up to Voivod’s proggy style, he goes deeper to the heavier stuff.  And, perhaps it’s Snake’s voice, the bridge sounds very Voivod.  The chorus is more poppy than what Voivod might do, and yet it’s a great song.  Voivod’s Away also designed the album cover.

I loved Trouble when I was in high school, although I don’t really remember them that well now.  This songs sounds bit more classic rock than metal (and I recall Trouble being pretty heavy), and yet Wagner’s voice works very well with the style.  I just read that Trouble went through a more psychedelic period and the middle section ties in nicely with that, so maybe this is inspired by later period Trouble.

Grohl says he was excited to get King Diamond, and who wouldn’t be.  Kim Thayil is back to create a suitable Mercyful riff (although it could never live up to the classic Fate).  But the mid section’s doom riffs are right on.  The song showcases some of the King’s vocal acrobatics, although not quite as many as I could have used (there are some excellent high-pitched notes in there though).

There’s a bonus track at the end of the disc which features Jack Black doing a suitably funny but accurate metal tribute.

This is a really solid heavy record that lets some classic metal singers back on the scene.  There won’t be a second Probot record, but there may not need to be one anyhow.  I also like that he picked some slightly more obscure singers rather than the obvious Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson type of singers, even if they would have also been interesting).

  • “Centuries of Sin” (feat. Cronos of Venom)
  • “Red War” (feat. Max Cavalera of Sepultura)
  • “Shake Your Blood” (feat. Lemmy of Motörhead)
  • “Access Babylon” (feat. Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity)
  • “Silent Spring” (feat. Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
  • “Ice Cold Man” (feat. Lee Dorrian of Cathedral and Napalm Death, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “The Emerald Law” (feat. Wino)
  • “Big Sky” (feat. Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost)
  • “Dictatosaurus” (feat. Snake of Voivod)
  • “My Tortured Soul” (feat. Eric Wagner of Trouble)
  • “Sweet Dreams” (feat. King Diamond of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “I Am the Warlock” (feat. Jack Black of Tenacious D)

[READ: February 13, 2015] The War at Ellsmere

I’ve enjoyed Hicks’ books in the past–both the ones she’s written and the one’s she’s simply illustrated.  In this book she does both which means you get big eyes and the dark hair.

As the book opens we meet Juniper, a girl who has just enrolled in Ellsmere Private School.   We meet the headmistress and learn the history of this beautiful school (established in 1810).  And then we find out that Juniper is there on a scholarship (merit based) and that Juniper is well aware that she will likely be there to “liven things up for the blue bloods.”

When Juniper meets her new roommate Cassie (who hears her talking to herself), Jun immediately goes on the defensive–until she sees that Cassie is actually quite a nice girl. (Nice, Jun, you just insulted Bambi).

But it’s during the orientation that we meet the real antagonist of the story–Emily, a pretty blonde girl who immediately insults Cassie and calls her “orphan.”  When Jun gets involved, it suggests that it will be an interesting year for all of them. (more…)

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[WATCHED October-November 2012] Metal Evolution

metal evolutionVH1 aired this series last year and I was intrigued by it but figured I had no time to watch an 11 hour series on the history of heavy metal.  Of course, this being VH1, they have since re-aired the series on an almost continual loop.  So, if you’re interested, you can always catch it.

This series was created by Sam Dunn, the documentary filmmaker who made the movie Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.  I had heard good things about the movie, but never saw it.  After watching the series, I’m definitely interested in the movie.  Dunn is a keener–A Canadian heavy metal fan who is really into his subject.  He knows his stuff and he knows what he likes (heavy metal) and what he doesn’t like (glam metal, nu metal).

The sheer number of people he interviews is impressive (as are the number of locations he travels to).  Part of me says “wow, I can’t believe he was able to interview X,” and then I remember, “X is really old and is nowhere near the level of fame that he once had.”  Given that, the few hold-outs seem surprising–did they not want to have anything to do with VH1?  Are they embarrassed at how uncool they are now?  Just watch the show guys, you can’t be as low as some.

The only mild criticism I have is that the show relies a lot on the same talking heads over and over.  Scott Ian from Anthrax, whom I love, is in every episode.  Indeed, he may be a paid VH1 spokesman at this point.  There are a few other dudes who show up a little more than they warrant, but hey, you use what you got, right?

What is impressive is the volume of music he includes with the show.  I assume that he couldn’t  get the rights to any studio recordings because every clip is live.  This is good for fans in that we get to see some cool unfamiliar live footage, but some of it is current live footage which often doesn’t compare to the heyday.  Having said that, there’s a lot of live footage from the early 80s–of bands that I never saw live anywhere.  And that’s pretty awesome.

With an 11-part documentary there’s the possibility of exhaustion and overkill, but Dunn is an excellent craftsman  he jumps around from old to new, talks about how the history impacts the current and, because of his own interests, he makes it personal rather than just informative. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BLASTING CONCEPT Volume II (1985).

I listened to this collection of (then) old and new SST artists almost nonstop the summer I bought this.  I remember my friend Al disliking it quite a bit–except for Hüsker Dü, of course.  (I wonder if he would change his mind about any of it now).

This LP was a kind of transition record from the standard bearers of SST (Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, The Minutemen) to the then new young bands (DC3, Angst, Gone).  The Allmusic review dismisses the disc out of hand, but I think that the disc has held up very well.  I didn’t follow SST records too closely in the 90s so I’m not sure what they were doing, but for whatever reason, most of the bands that the average listener hasn’t heard of were dropped (and sadly most of those discs are long out of print, some never released on CD at all–MP3s do appear to be available). The exception of course is any band that Greg Ginn played in (which is most of them, actually), which he of course has kept in print on SST.

SAINT VITUS-“Look Behind You” This song opens the disc and seems to introduce right away that SST is no longer just a punk label.  This is a very metal sound with a wah wahed and fuzzed out guitar all the way through.  It’s mixed in a weird way (which could be SST), which undermines the real heaviness and actually adds some cool effects.

DC3-“Theme From an Imaginary Western” as mentioned, an awesome track.

SWA-“Mystery Girl” a fuzzy distorted track.  It’s heavy, but not very heavy.

BLACK FLAG-“I Can See You” is one of those Black Flag tracks that is all about Greg Ginn’s weird guitar.  He plays a simple melody out of tune with crazy guitar solos over the top.  Rollins is on vocals which are mostly spoken here.  It’s a bizarre throwaway kind of song that I really like.

GONE-‘Watch the Tractor”  This is a wonderful instrumental.  High speed with a great riff that propels about half of the song.  The other half is a heavy kind of mosh that breaks up the proceedings nicely.  This is one of the few bands that no one has heard of from thee days of SST that actually have the album still in print (because Greg Ginn is on it).

WURM-“Death Ride” is not a very good song, but one which I always liked for its simplicity and stupidity. The screamed chorus is really catchy.

OVERKILL-“Over the Edge”  This is not the famous metal band Overkill, but a different metal band named Overkill who got shuffled aside by the (arguably) better, bigger one.  This is the only song I know from this Overkill (now known as Overkill L.A.) and I really like it.  It has a great riff and vocals like Lemmy.

SACCHARINE TRUST-“Emotions and Anatomy” is one of several odd, improvised tracks on this compilation. It seems like perhaps everyone is playing his own thing and the lyrics are some strange little rant.

PAINTED WILLIE-“The Big Time” is more raucous style of song, reminiscent of earlier SST recording.  The most interesting part comes at the end with the falsetto voices threatening to take over the song.  They play a kind of sloppy punk-lite that would likely be very popular today.

ANGST-“Just Me” After DC3 this is my second favorite unknown song on the album.  It has a great bass line with some angular guitars over the top.  It actually sounds a lot like later Hüsker Dü, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

MEAT PUPPETS-” I Just Want to Make Love To You” I’ve like the Meat Puppets for ages.  And this absurd cover of the blues song is one of the oddest songs this odd band has recorded.  The solo sounds like it comes from under a volcano.  It’s not a great song (and should probably be two minutes shorter), but it is kind of fun.

MINUTEMEN-“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” The always awesome Minutemen engage us with this awesome cover of Van Halen’s “Aint Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.  In 1 minute they undermine all of the overblownedness of the original.  Check out the live version here.

HÜSKER DÜ-“Erase Today” This is simply fantastic.  This is an early punk song of theirs.  Catchy and fast and wonderful.

OCTOBER FACTION-“I Was Grotesque” Another weird improv piece.   It’s filled mostly with drums and strange rantings–kind of beatniky.  Here’s a live show from the band from 1984.

TOM TROCCOLI’S DOG-“Todo Para Mi”  This song has a cool riff. Although Troccoli’s voice is questionable at best.  It more or less devolves into a nonsense jam and is too long at 6 minutes.  It’s not a great way to end the album, but maybe it’s last for a reason.

[READ: March 21, 2011] “Who Am I?”

I have been hearing about Demetri Martin for a few years now.   How he’s the hot new comic. And yet I’ve never come across anything he’s done (even though I think Comedy Central repeated his shows practically on the hour when they first aired). So this short piece is my first exposure to him.  I’m going to assume it is not a fair representation of his comedy as he is normally a stand up and writing is not the same as stand up.  (That’s not to say it’s not good, just that it’s not his natural medium).

This was a short piece in the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs section. It asks and answers the titular question “Who Am I?” (more…)

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