Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Never Got My Way

Black Flag has always been good to me. The band was there in my teen years and early twenties where my head was a mess of hatred, rage and hormones. Love was a razor, and I constantly cut my throat.

Far too many people say Black Flag went down the drain when Henry Rollins took over vocals. I have to disagree. Yeah, the music changed, but it became deeper. Instead of reacting to it, you understood it ... or at least I did. "White Minority" was gone and "The Bars" replaced it. Both are good songs in their own right, but I'll take "The Bars" any day.

When it comes to Black Flag songs that I think sum me up fairly accurately, it is "Out of This World." Hands down. The irritating pick down the strings, the stream-of-consciousness insanity, the contradictions -- it's all me. "I've got a smile on my face/And I'm never coming to."

This song works wonders on me. I pick up something new in its cadence every time I listen to it. I don't want to say it's magic, but ...

Oddly enough, while I love it, I think it's one of the weaker Black Flag songs. It's nowhere near as powerful as "Loose Nut" or "My War." It is me, though, and I think my friends may argue that, but few have been deep in my head.

Now I'm looking for the sun ...

Mama Rosin Germany Tour Schedule

Just in from the awesome Voodoo Rhythm Records -- Mama Rosin Germany tour schedule. If you are there, you should be there!

30.avr..2009 LINDE Königsfeld-Burgberg

01.mai.2009 Cafe LIMBA Villingen

02.mai.2009 SUBSTANZ, by Clud 2 and Gut Feeling Munich

03.mai.2009 CAYMAN Bar Gunzenhausen

04.mai.2009 WHITE TRASH Berlin, Berlin

05.mai.2009 Cafe LUZIA, with Jimmy Trash Kreuzberg Berlin, Berlin

06.mai.2009 MS Hedi, Zydeco-swamp Cruise with tee Watzloves ! Hambourg

07.mai.2009 AMIGO MUSIC Delmenhorst

08.mai.2009 Die MUTTER Köln

09.mai.2009 DREI KÖNIG'S KELLER Frankfurt

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Forget The Chaos

I remember, and this is going to make me sound old, when punk was dangerous. There were talk shows dedicated to this new "trend" that was causing kids to do drugs and hurt themselves and others. (And that talk was always playing on the fear factor of anything new and different.) Now you can hear punk on television shows for kids, in ads, and being promoted at the mall (thanks, Hot Topic). What was once a music of the outcast has now become a just another stale genre.

As is always the case with such things, there are bands that won't be found on some fifteen-year-old's iPod. But there is nothing like Crass or GG Allin to make this music a threat again. There are political bands, and there are outrageous bands, but there are too few and their ability to actually make a statement is hampered by an indifferent public. Everyone is so scared of a black man breaking into their home while listening to The Rza that they have forgotten about stuff like The Exploited's Barmy Army.

I like music that threatens the norm, that puts the status quo on alert (whether the threat is real or not). I like music that lets its listeners know there is an alternative to consumer culture. When it comes to punk, which was infamous for those things, I just don't see it anymore. Punk bands continue to play huge festivals sponsored by major corporations. They give interviews to stale magazines like Rolling Stone. Yes, there are still bands thriving in the underground, but now they can stay there and never affect anyone outside that special little circle.

I guess that isn't such a bad thing, as any art form that gets popular gets co-opted, but I do miss the time when Phil Donahue was concerned with bands like Rash of Stabbings and Three Teens Kill Four. Will I ever see it again? Doubtful, as punk has become as consumer-centric as hip hop. Metal still maintains a slight outsider status, but often seems too much like a joke to matter. Death and black metal cause some terror, but see the previous sentence.

What is left?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Joe Dean Got It Wrong, Right?

Joe Dean, born this month in 1908. Master of the blues piano. His song "I'm So Glad I'm 21 Years Old Today," a favorite of mine, meant something different back when he recorded it. Dean was glad because his "baby" could no longer "treat" him that way. She apparently made a fool of him one too many times. Had that song been written in the present era it would have been about bar hopping.

When I turned 21 a bunch of friends at the factory where I worked (now there's the subject of a blues song if ever there were one) wanted to take me to the bar. I just asked them for the money they would be spending. Not a single one wanted to pony up. I told them I'd see them at the bar regardless and then hit the porno store instead. (I sense another blues song.)

The porno store held a wide variety of wonder. Magazines, videos and books of all varieties. It's not the kind of environment Dean would approve of. After all, he later became the incumbent of St. John's United Church of Christ on Norther Grand -- quite a journey for a guy who used to play the piano for tips around at house parties.

Dean's song may not match today's love of the mythic age, but the spirit of freedom is undeniable. 21, no matter the era, has been seen as a time of liberation here in America. Dean, born in St. Louis, realized that. It's inherent in the joy in his voice and his use of "walking piano," a sound that always seems to signify action (in this case a simple liberation from grief). In that respect, Dean's song isn't much different from the feeling twenty-year-olds feel today when that mark is approaching.

There aren't a ton of great songs celebrating the age milestone anymore. Maybe that's because it's understood that the act of going to a bar to get smashed is just window dressing. Anyone inclined to get drunk on that night has probably done it a hundred times before. Only now they don't have to hide it from cops and mom.

Dean got it kind of right. The need for liberation is always there. It just doesn't really have anything to do with age anymore.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

4/20 Is Coming

4/20 is tomorrow, and while potheads take to various parks around the county, the sounds of reggae will once again become prevalent in this great county. As if Reggae on the River wasn't enough.

I have no problem with drugs or music to do drugs to. I don't take drugs myself, but I have no doubt that techno is easier to tolerate if you've got Ecstasy coursing through your system. Reggae, however, just irritates me to no end. I must admit, though, its inherent musical laziness fits the whole pot vibe perfectly.

There's an old punk song by a band whose name I can't remember this late on a Sunday called "Reggae Gets Us Laid." The song can be found on the "Get the Hell Out" CD, which is a compilation of Leigh Valley, PA punk bands. The song is pretty accurate. Reggae bands get laid because pothead females are easy if they think pot will be involved at some point.

Of all the different musical genres, reggae, contemporary country and opera are the ones I dislike the most. Reggae, however, is the only one out of the bunch that I dislike mostly because of its fans. They are just so damn annoying (almost as bad as Phish fans) that I can't help but hate the music.

Give me some GG Allin, Skinny Puppy, Pantera or Jane's Addiction any day. All of those acts had performers on drugs, many of whom even wrote songs about drugs ... drugs much harder than pot, too. But they were proactive. They didn't sit back, smoke a joint and watch the sun go down. They got angry, violent, crazy. They are everything reggae is not and never could be.

Yeah, 4/20 is coming. I think I'll blare Nashville Pussy's "High As Hell" and know that even if you like your drugs, you're still a musical loser if you listen to reggae.

Introductions ...

This blog is going to be dedicated to the music I like. Punk, metal, experimental, blues, alternative, industrial and the like. Enjoy.