Saturday, January 30, 2010

California Love

2Pac. Dr. Dre (fairly sure he's not really a doctor). "California Love." 1996. All Eyez on Me. West Coast, motherfuckers. A celebration of California life ... or something.

I never really understood the appeal of hip hop songs that extol the virtues of living in one place over another, whether it be a neighborhood, region or state. I can understand having pride in wherever you pay rent, but to commit it vinyl or illegally downloaded MP3s? Seems kind of like it's a sign that you've run out of ideas.

I spent a lot of time in Mt. Pocono in my teen years. I'm fairly sure if I had a hip hop act (named, I believe, Rev. Doug and the Presidential Azzazzins), I would not be throwing down, "Mt. Pocono, motherfucker/Where the ice cream is cold/And the cops are bold/No night life, bitch/But we got huntin' and fish."

It just wouldn't be right.

As most people know, I think current hip hop is more concerned with being like bored Beverly Hills housewives instead of taking a political stance like Public Enemy of old. Hence, I've left most of it behind and retain the old punk standards of things like Crass and newer old music like that which comes out of the house of Voodoo.

My guess is that "California Love" filled Californians with an inflated sense of self and a vibe again to a summer block party while listeners in other parts of the country wanted to come enjoy the wonderous cities that are Oakland and Hollywood. When I hear it, however, I visualize that Mad Max-inspired video and think of wasted opportunities. Hell, Nairobi and the Awesome Foursome's "Funky Soul MaKoosa" actually seems to have more inspiration and it kinda sucks.

Come to think of it, with the perpetual stupidity that seems to run rampant in this state like STDs on campus, "California Love" may be right on target.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waking Up With Rollins

I woke up with my stomach gurgling. Upset about my daughter being sick, me being sick, and work, I figured it was a good time for some Rollins Band. His music keeps me sane in the worst of times and the best of times ... and in the tough times. Tired of illness and stress. Tired of people pushing med leave. Tired of talking the same talking and walking the same walk and not getting anywhere close to my destination.

In high school, the words and wisdom of Hank helped to put things into context. Black Flag was a constant on my Walkman. It made getting to school less dreadful and leaving all that much sweeter. It made me realize that all the petty shit meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Now, however, all the petty shit isn't petty -- it's what I'm surrounded by. The people who do their best to be the most ignorant. My war, indeed.

The coffee I drink this morning is bitter. I'm slow because my stomach keeps cramping up, and I feel like I gotta puke. I'm going to work to do damage control, because I don't think I can take much of what is being thrown my way, but med leave ain't my way, either. I just don't know where I stand anymore in much of anything.

At least my girl is feeling better. That means the world to me, and that counts for everything. With her, I can shut the rest of the world out and focus where the focus must be. With her around, I don't need to play Rollins Band in the morning.

But she already likes Black Flag, and I hope she comes to the realizations quicker than I did.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Meet Joe Black

Did any Malevolent Creation fans like the Joe Black release? It's a remix album, and I can't picture it sitting well with die-hard fans of the band.

I, on the other hand, listened to it yesterday for the first time in many years, and really enjoyed it. Death metal and techno-like beats goes together pretty damn well.

I have no idea of what the band is up to these days, or even if it still exists. It may have gone the way oh-so many other metal acts from the '90s, or maybe it's still earning dope money by playing dive bars in Florida for aging car mechanics and 22-year-old SSI recipients.

It doesn't really matter what the band's fate is, however. This release remains a testament to metal ingenuity no matter what the long-haired lads are doing.

I just wonder if they ever put it on the stereo and think, "What the hell were we doing?"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Amazing Power of Lard

I never thought Jello Biafra would work well with industrial music, but when I heard Lard I realized I was wrong. It actually works really well.

Industrial music is one of those things you either like or don't. I can understand why some people just can't get into the repetitive sounds and jarring noises. Some people don't like the fascist links/imagery to some of the music. For me, however, the music is a powerful mood booster that helps me face the day. Driving in to work listening to Ministry helps me get through the day. Writing to Skinny Puppy sets the mood. Listening to Lard inspires me.

Like metal, the industrial music of the eighties and nineties is powerful stuff meant to evoke emotions. It succeeds. Heck, I remember reading a report that Jeffrey Dahmer looked for victims at a Skinny Puppy show. I never knew if it were true or not, but it did seem fitting. That music would attract that sort of thing.

I once played Too Dark Park for one of my brother's girlfriends. She liked Air Supply and had never heard anything like it. She described it as "scary" and made me turn it off.

And that is why I like it. It accomplishes its goal. Granted, there are always arguments about what is industrial versus what isn't, but set those aside and you find a genre that actually succeeds on the level it is playing on. It attracts the right kind of listener and alienates the wrong.

If only hip hop were so lucky.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Man Band: King Automatic

As always, Voodoo Rhythm puts out the most amazing releases. 10/2/09 saw the unleashing of In the Blue Corner from King Automatic.

The King was once a drummer in the French punk band Thundercrack. That was the mid 1990s. Come 2000 King had separated from Thundercrack and did his thing on his own. We're all better off for it.

To be fair, King Automatic isn't totally solo on this 14 song release. He's got Petra, Miss Bang! Bang! and Rich Deluxe helping with backing vocals. He does handle the drums, guitars, harp, vocals and keyboard himself, though. Take that, Bruce Springsteen!

One man bands aren't the future of rock 'n' roll. In fact, they are more of a glimpse of the past. They are a more pure sound, however. They show that you don't have to have four guys to create a full sound amongst the battling egos. Purity gives music soul. The more fingers in the pot, the more diluted the message becomes. This release is proof of that.