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Archive for the ‘Soundgarden’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 18, 2018] Naked Giants

I had never heard of Naked Giants before this show.  But apparently I was in the minority, because everyone in the club seemed to know these guys (even though they apparently have never played Philly before?).  The dudes next to me knew every word of every song and slammed and pogoed through the whole set (and I was pretty far back so this was irritatingly out of place–keep the slamming to the pit, dudes).

Naked Giants is a three-piece from Seattle.  Sure they play grunge, but they mix in some pop elements and a full dose of indie rock as well.  Both the guitarist and the bassist sing lead.  The drummer is a maniac and he left his kit several times to walk around–sometimes mid song.

They are one of the most fun bands I’ve seen live in a really long time.

The band came out and they played a huge intro of noise.  It went on for quite a while–noise and flashing lights and everything and then they settled into “Dead/Alien.” Both guitarist Grant Mullen and bassist Gianni Aiello sang lead on.

It was followed by “Regular Guy” which is indeed about a regular guy–but with a wicked guitar solo–because even though they play indie rock, Mullen totally shreds.

They played a new song called “TV” which has a very new waves-sounding staccato guitar line.  It is sung in a detached new wave style until the bass and fuzz guitar kick in and it turns onto a heavy grunge song for a few measures before reverting to the new wave sound.  The middle has a long noisy jam/freakout section which was a lot of fun.

They were jumping around like lunatics during most of the show with Aiello doing a great left/right jump kick through one of the rocking sections.

On one occasion when Henry LaVallee got our from behind his kit, he walked around the drums, hit one cymbal from the other side and sat down.  Another time he got up and engaged with the audience.  I love this picture in which he was showing the audience his phone (no idea why), but it looks like the guy in the crowd is holding a tiny light.

When they announced the song “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows),” a kind of bratty surf punk song, the guys near me went berserk.  They sang along and even added their own call and response to the vocals (which you can hear in this clip).  The band really appreciated it and waves to the guys.

Then they played the title track from their recent album, Sluff.  About this song, Aiello told Billboard

“I just needed a word for the chorus of that song,… I knew I wanted to shout something, but I didn’t know what. I was hanging out with my girlfriend and I said, ‘Hey, what’s a good grunge-sounding word?’ She thought for a minute and then said ‘Sluff!’ I said, ‘That’s perfect!’ It sounds like something Soundgarden might do. It’s just a nonsense word.”

And he is totally right, it is a ton of fun to sing along to “oh oh oh oh oh sluff!”

Toward the end of their set they played a song called “Twist” which was in fact, more or a less a twist (Aiello turned and faced the crowd and shook his butt at us twist-style).  There was a middle part that had a solo or two from each guy.  In Aiello’s solo he did a bass line from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” which was pretty cool.

It was followed by ta total freak out called “Green Fuzz.”  This song went on for about ten minutes.  There was a middle section that involved all of them making as much noise as possible and Mullen ultimately lying on his back, feet in the air, doing whatever it was he was doing (I couldn’t really see him).  He stayed down there for a good five minutes while Henry LaVallee went bonkers on the drums–it was like a drum solo but without the pretension.  Meanwhile, Aiello was keeping things mostly under control with his bass, although he was also playing behind his head at one point.

They ended with “Ya Ya” an incredibly fun song and perfect set ender with the wonderfully deep chorus of “Oh, ya ya ya ya hey, Whoo hoo!”  It’s basically one more wild jam before the set crashes to a conclusion.

They were fantastic and I’d definitely see them again.

It turns out that Naked Giants are also part of Car Seat Headrest’s live band.  They became friends with Will Toledo several years ago  “I think it’s been pretty fun, though, kind of like a big boost. We get to play way bigger shows than we would by ourselves. We open for them, too, so it’s a lot of hard work. We’re playing two and a half hours a night, but it’s worth it. It’s what we signed up for.”

Setlist

  1. Dead/Alien $
  2. Regular Guy
  3. TV $
  4. Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows) $
  5. Sluff $
  6. Slow Dance II $
  7. Twist ¥
  8. Green Fuzz
  9. Ya Ya ¥

 

¥ R.I.P. EP

$ Sluff

 

 

 

 

 

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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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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Dos! (2012).

Wdoshile I was writing about these songs the words “stupid” and “dopey” came up a lot and I realized that of this trilogy of albums, this may be the dopiest (I mean, look at the cover).  I assume that’s on purpose.  We know that Green day was taking a break from their serious albums and operas to make dopey punk rock.  But between the lyrics and the riffs, this one is really quite dopey.  Charmingly so.

¡Dos! opens with “See You Tonight” a tinny guitar sound that makes me think they’re goin to bust into The Allman Brother’s “Jessica,” but no, it remains a folky song that lasts for 90 seconds before it bleeds into “Fuck Time” a knuckleheaded, big drummed bluesy riff that  reminds me of Soundgarden’s “Big Dumb Sex” except that it might actually be serious.  And it may be the least sexy song about sex I’ve ever head.  “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” ups the speed even further (although they manage to have catchy verses that seem to recall The Who again).  “Lazy Bones” changes the tone somewhat, bringing in some nice ringing guitars (sounding more like The Strokes than punk) and a prettier feel (in the verses anyhow).  It’s probably my favorite on this disc.

“Wild One” is one of their rockier ballads.  It could probably do with being about a minute shorter, but the backing vocals are pretty cool.  “Makeout Party” is  stupid fun (with some wild solos, and even a bass solo section).   “Stray Heart” is a fun boppy song with, yes, a big arena-friendly chorus).  “Ashley” is a fast punky song (that plays high guitar notes rather than big chords).

“Baby Eyes” has  good harsh sound in the riff (a rare minor chord)–although again those verses are bright and happy.  “Nightlife” is the one glaringly odd song.  It has a silky bass line and a really interesting sound.  But it also feature an extensive rap by Lady Cobra (who I’ve never heard of).  The rap is just as silly as Armstrong;s lyrics, but somehow since she is speaking them so clearly (rather than hurriedly singing them) they seem even dumber.

“Wow! That’s Loud” is a wonderful title for a fast spirited song, with a dopey riff and some fun soloing sections (unusual for Green Day).  The disc ends like it began with an acoustic type ballad.  This one is called “Amy” and it is pretty much the quintessential sweet Green day ballad.

Although I liked this one, I preferred the first disc overall.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Segmented Sleep”

I’m repeating this intro because of the content of this essay.  The timing of this Folio, entitled “Are You Sleeping? In search of a good night’s rest” is quite spooky.  I myself have been having middle of the night insomnia.  I seem to battle this occasionally.  This recent bout seems to be accompanied by a stomach upset.  So I have this really unfair cycle.  My stomach is bothered by caffeine, so it keeps me up at night and when I wake up groggy and with a headache, I need the caffeine to get me somewhat stabilized (and I’m not a big caffeine drinker—a cup of tea, maybe two a day).  But that seems to upset me during the night.  I am also really strangely accurate with my insomnia.  It is almost always between 2 and 2:30 AM. So, yea, here’s other people interested in sleep deprivation.

[begin new content] Although Julavits’ piece read like a story, Ekirch’s has a much more academic style.  Turns out that he wrote about a history of sleep for his dissertation and for part of his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past.  This short essay focuses on “segmented sleep.”  It turns out that in pre-industrial nights, sleep was segmented: a first and second sleep bridged after midnight “by an hour or more of wakefulness in which people did practically everything imaginable.”  This second sleep is mentioned in Odyssey and Aeneid.

In the 1990s a sleep study was done.  Males were deprived of artificial light at night for a few weeks.  They began sleeping in segments as well.  This seems to be a natural circadian rhythm to our lives.  Indeed, It was in the 1800s that segmented sleep gave way to one longer sleep—when lighting and industry came to dominate our lives.  And we felt compelled to be awake when it was light out so we could be more productive. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_10_13Schossow.inddSOUNDTRACKDRUG CHURCH-“Deconstructing Snapcase” (2013).

drugchurchYesterday I commented about another Drug Church song by saying I liked this one better.  What’s interesting is that this one is thirty seconds longer but seems shorter.

The song opens with big loud aggressive guitars (kind of early Soundgarden), but the vocals, which are screamed, are brighter that their other song, providing a  nice contrast.  But the thing that made me like this song more than “YouTube” is the fast bright guitar bridge, in which the guitars ring out in contrast to the heavy opening chords–it gives the song a lot of dynamics.

There’s a guitar solo, which surprised me for some reason, but it breaks up the song and reintroduces some of the earlier riffs.  It’s a good heavy song.

[READ: June 18, 2013] “Brotherly Love”

Lahiri has the last and longest story in this New Yorker issue that’s chock full of stories.  This one is some fifteen pages and is part of a novel.

I was gripped instantly by the story.  But I am glad that it is part of a novel as I feel there were parts of the beginning that seemed extraneous without more story to follow.  Or should I say, if it was just a short story, it could have been shorter.  The story is about two brothers, Subhash and Udayan.  Subhash is older by fifteen months but Udayan is the far more daring one.  Subhash is cautious and does everything his parents say, while Udayan flouts the rules at every opportunity.

The first transgression we see is when they climb the wall into the country club, where locals are pretty much excluded.  They were told they could get golf balls, so they hopped the fence and took what they could.  They also marveled at the manicured lawns and the beauty around them.  They returned regularly until they were caught–but luckily for them they were not turned in. (more…)

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cpatain 10 SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Bad Hair Day (1996).

bad hair dayBad Hair Day is an uninspired album title, especially given how great of an album it is.  As I posted last week, “Amish Paradise” is great, (I forget to mention the funny Gilligan’s Island verse in the middle.  “Everything You Know is Wrong” is just a magnificent They Might be Giants parody.  Now, TMBG and Weird Al are pretty kindred spirits (they both use accordions and sing silly songs).  In that respect, this song isn’t that different from a typical Al song, but there are so many great musical nods to TMBG that the song is just awesome.  And it’s very funny too.

“Cavity Search” is a parody of U2’s “Hold Me Touch Me Kiss Me Kill Me” and it works very well, both as a great soundalike (Al’s vocal tricks get better with each album) and the way he plays with the original (the drill solo is great) are really clever.  “Calling in Sick” is a kind of Nirvana parody, although I don’t hear it as well as other band parodies.  It’s certainly a grunge song and, as such it works.  But it was “The Alternative Polka” that proved to be my favorite of his medleys so far.  “Loser,” “Sex Type Thing” “All I Wanna Do” “Closer” (hearing him do Nine Inch Nails is hilarious–especially this song!), “Bang Bang Blame” (so much R.E.M. lately), “You Oughta Know,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” (Weezer’s song was supposed to be included here but they asked it to be removed and he did at the last minute–see the video below).  “I’ll Stick Around,” “Black Hole Sun” and “Basket Case”–a great mix of songs that I loved at the time and still do, this song is like reliving the mid 90s.

“Since You’ve Been Gone” is a fun a capella band version of a funny break up song.  He gets better and better at this kind of lyric (“a red hot cactus up my nose” is particularly wonderful).  “Gump” is a very funny parody of “Lump” by Presidents of the United States of America.  Evidently they liked his parody so much they used some of his lyrics in the final verse when they played it live.

“Sick of You” has a fun bass line (reminiscent of Elvis Costello) and a great chorus.  And “Syndicated, Inc.” is a very funny parody of that overplayed Soul Asylum song “Misery.”  It’s a very funny song about syndicated TV shows.  “I Remember Larry” is a pretty funny original about a prankster, although it’s the weakest song on the album.  “Phony Calls” is a parody of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and it’s pretty funny (especially hearing Al do TLC vocals).  The parody works pretty well, and it’s certainly helped by the sample of Bart and Moe on the Simpsons.  “The Night Santa Went Crazy” is a pretty funny twisted take on Santa.

This album is definitely one of his best.  Just about every song is a winner.  And it’s his best-selling album too.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers

Clark was pretty excited when this book came out.  He had just finished up book #7 or 8 when the book was published.  And so it didn’t take too long for him to get caught up with the series.  I was also pretty lucky to have just finished book nine so this “last” book (although not really) was very well timed.

When we left off in Book Nine, Tippy Tinkletrousers had inadvertently destroyed the earth and the giant zombie George and Harold were stomping through the town.  And, shockingly, they had just crushed Tippy in his robo-pants.   But as this book opens, Pilkey gives us the truth about zombies.  They are really slow.  So slow that Tippy was able to get out of the way of the giant foot (and do lots of other things) and put a giant ketchup packet under the foot so it got squished instead of him.

The rest of the book is simply chock full of time travel, overlapping people and all kinds of paradoxes.  I have to wonder if Clark got it, but he just read it again and he did seem to have decent understanding of what happened. (more…)

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fiddleblack-issue-8SOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-Adrenaline (1995).

adrenalineMy friend Cindy recently told me that the Deftones were playing nearby. I hadn’t realized that they were still together–there was some personnel issues a few years back.  But indeed they are and even released a new album last year.  So I got their latest album and really liked it.  This made me go back and listen to their earlier stuff too.

I came to Deftones with Around the Fur, so this debut album is less well known to me.  And yet, there are two songs that I absolutely love on this disc and which easily put Deftones above so many other heavy bands of the era (I’m not willing to say nu-metal because it’s stupid and Deftones transcended the genre from their first album).  “Bored” and “7 Words” are masterpieces of controlled rage and tension.  “Bored” opens the album with this aggressive guitar noise, letting you know what you’re in for, but the chorus shows how Chino Moreno is a master of his diverse use of vocal styles.  Especially after a few soaring choruses (he has a great singing voice) when he whispers the final verse.

The way “7 Words” open is practically like Jane’s Addiction–an noisy aggressive guitar with a big bouncy bassline and some intricate drumming.  Chino’s voice comes in like an impatient whisper.  It’s a great start.  Then when the chorus comes in (basically just the word Suck repeated over and over), the guitars bring in a Soundgarden vibe.  It’s really a great track, wonderful to crank loud.  And there’s no long ending.  It’s just done.

The rest of the album plays some interesting textures and sounds.  They are a very riff heavy band with a lot of screaming (that would change over the years), but they are never ordinary.  Some of the tracks aren’t as memorable, but it’s a consistently interesting album.  And, for the time, it was quite original.  The way the riff plays against the vocals on “Minus Blindfold” is very challenging.  The opening guitar riff of “Root” is very punk but the discordant guitars are really very metal.  There’s some great moshing riffs on the album (“Nosebleed”) along with some really interesting guitar sounds (see “Engine No. 9”).  And the drums really stand out for all of their intricacy.  Not all of the songs pack the same punch, and, after knowing their later stuff, the album is a little samey, but it’s a good start and a great opening salvo.

[READ: February 20, 2013] “Hideous Interview with Brief Man” 

My friend Andrew sent me this and described it as a mash up and David Foster Wallace and H.P. Lovecraft.  And indeed it is.  Although I admit my Lovecraftian knowledge is there, it’s not very deep, so I’m not exactly sure how Lovecraftian this is, but it is definitely Wallaceian, as you can tell by the title.

And indeed, the story is constructed like a story from DFW’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: there’s a series of answers and a series of questions posed just as the letter Q.

It took me a couple of questions to realize that the Brief Man being questioned is Wallace himself and as the story comes to an end, it becomes apparent that this is an interview with Death.  It’s a fascinating idea, one that will likely ruffle the feathers of Wallace fans.  And yet Mamatas has done some of his homework about Wallace.

There’s some obvious parts, like titles from his books being used in the answers, although they do work very well in context and flow naturally.  The less obvious sections seem very true to the spirit of Wallace.  The writing style doesn’t really ape Wallace or his interviewing style which I think is addressed by the comment: “there could be no worse fate than being known for exactly the sort of person you actually are.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AUDIOSLAVE-Audioslave (2002).

Despite the pedigree of this band: Rage Against the Machine + Chris Cornell, I wasn’t all that interested in the band when they came out.  I was over Rage and was bored by Cornell’s solo stuff.  But then recently, someone donated a copy of this album to th elibrary, so I thought I’d see what all of the fuss was about (nine years ago).

There are times when this album is really superb.  The Rage guys get an amazingly full sound out of their instruments (the choruses of “Show Me How to Live” are so full).  And when it works, and Cornell’s amazing voice is in full force, this seems like a genius pairing.

But there’s a lot that feels kind of clunky here (and there’s some really bad choices of guitar solo work by Tom Morello–the weird noises that compriose he solo of “What You Are”–in Rage the noises were weird but exciting and inflammatory, these are just kind of dull.  Worse yet, is the, well, stupid solo in “Like a Stone”–boring and ponderous at the same time).  Although he redeems himself somewhat with the cool solo on the otherwise dull “Intuition”.

The biggest surpise comes in “Like a Stone” which is insanely catchy and mellow–something one assumed Rage didn’t know how to do).  Lyrically the song is pretty stupid (as are most of the songs), but the combination of melody and Cornell’s great vocal lines really raise this song high–shame about the solo).  Also, a song like “Shadow of the Sun” seems to highlight Cornell’s more mellow moments (and shows that the Rage guys can actually play that slow), and they all seem to be in synch.

And there are several songs that rock really hard, sounding at times like Rage and at time like Soundgarden, but working on all cylinders together.  “Cochise” and “Set It Off” are simply great riff rock songs.

But ten or so years later, and twenty years since Badmotorfinger (my favorite Soundgarden album), it’s nice to hear Cornell rocking again.  Although man, the record is too long!

[READ: June 1, 2011] Five Dials Number 8

For Issue Number 8, Five Dials went to Paris.  And so the whole issue is given over to French concerns and ideas.  For a magazine that didn’t need a change of pace, it’s a delightful change of pace.  The feel of the magazine is different, and there’s an air of vacation about it (which is not to suggest that it is slacking off in any way), and it feels really vibrant.

I don’t know a lot about France in general.  I mean, I’ve been there, and I keep up with things, but I am not a Francophile by any means. So a lot of this stuff was simply new to me, which is always fun.  What I especially liked about the issue was that they were not afraid to show some of France’s uglier sides as well–it’s not just a tourism booster.

It even starts out differently than the other issues. (more…)

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