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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Melvins - "Houdini" (Atlantic Records, 1993) [key tracks: Hooch, Honey Bucket, Set Me Straight, Night Goat]
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"Los ticka toe rest. Might like a sender doe ree. Your make a doll a ray-day sender bright like a penelty. Exi-tease my ray-day member half lost a beat away. Purst in like a one way sende,r war give a heart like a fay. Cuz I can ford a red eed only street a wide a ree land. Die-mond make a mid-evil bike a sake a like a ree caste. Cuz I can ford a red eed only street a wide a ree land. On a ree land. Find a ree land. "
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Wow, these posts get further and further apart. Rest assured that I have been studying, not record shopping. My newest wastes of time have been shopping for a Stratocaster (I am trying to learn to play surf guitar... and I have a few licks, so I got that going for me...) and playing MLB Power Pros on Nintendo Wii. So as you can see, I still haven't grown up.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #30 - Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who
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Here is a list of my 6 favorite rock guitarists... #1 Frank Zappa, #2 King Buzzo (Melvins), #3 Josh Homme (Kyuss, QOTSA), #4 Dick Dale, #5 Dave Mustane (Megadeth), #6 D. Boon (Minutemen)
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I won't lie... it took a semi-commercial, easy to access album on a major label for me to get exposed to The Melvins. That is hard to admit, since they are icons in underground music for being so D.I.Y. and un-reliant on rock radio, MTV, or major labels. Thanks to the explosion of grunge, The Melvins enjoyed a small run of LPs on Atlantic... which despite conventional thought are very good entry points to their sound.
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The Melvins are about "grunge" beyond the genre... they have mastered a punk-meets-metal sound that often plods, crawls, and lays gasping for several minutes. Its no wonder that the biggest influences on the Melvins' sound are Flipper and Gene Simmons (his bass tracks, not KISS per se). The music is heavy, low, and brutal... then suddenly wistful and playful. Not in a The Shins way, but in an AC/DC way.
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To me, "Houdini" is an LP that introduces you to this style of stoner/sludge/doom/grunge/punk rock. You have a wide variety of flavors on one LP... experimental ("Pearl Bomb"), heavy metal (the unstoppable "Honeybucket" and "Hooch" show their heaviest chops ever), cover songs ("Going Blind"), and of course, that huge Melvins sound. An incredible find on this LP is "Set Me Straight" which is a captivating song in its own right, but even more so when you hear it played on their "Mangled Demos from 1983" LP... they had a fully realized version of this song, almost completely the same, in '83... meaning the Northwest was already having its glands shaken by the monstrous Melvins sound a decade before the word Nirvana was ever said outside of a World Religions class.
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Buzzo is always very concerned with the fan, which means good packaging and better production. So when you get a Melvins LP, it is a self contained object, part of a larger catalog project... much in the style of Frank Zappa. Therefore what you get is an experience, not a lame concept album, but a snapshot of a band doing what it does best at that given time. "Houdini" represents the time when the Melvins had help invent a sound from the ground up, which was bastardized and marketed ad nauseum as grunge. Any music fan needs to hear it done by the Melvins, which is to hear it done right.
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Ladies and Gentlemen... one of my top 5 favorite LPs ever... Houdini.
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Horns up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Public Enemy - "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" (Def Jam, 1988) [Key tracks: Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, Night of the Living Baseheads]
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"I got a letter from the government the other day. I opened and read it, it said they were suckers. They wanted me for their army or whatever; Picture me givin' a damn - I said never! Here is a land that never gave a damn about a brother like me and myself because they never did... I wasn't wit' it, but just that very minute...it occurred to me the suckers had authority"
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The floodgates are open and here come the classic LP's I have been ranting about. I haven't much to say non-LP related, so on with the show. This one will make Matt smile, I am sure (Matt and I, the 2 whitest kids in the world, know all the words to this LP. Pretty cool huh?).
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #31 - Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
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Where to even start with this one? Public Enemy's "It Takes..." is a landmark LP in many ways. I would even say that this album is of historical importance. With this LP, hard core hip hop was swept off the streets and into a bin called "consciousness." Public Enemy was street level, but was also militant, intelligent, and talented. They were able to on the same song criticize the system for marginalizing blacks, yet call the black community to task on its own demons. Unlike Bill Cosby, who seems to be seen as a bit of an Uncle Tom with his criticisms, PE leaned further into the Afrocentric realm; which was not a surprise considering the band's fascination with the Black Panther movement and the Nation of Islam.
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At the time of recording, "It Takes..." had all of the PE elements locked into place. They had worked out some of their kinks on their debut album, and taken on their stage persona's fully. Chuck D: the educated former-DJ, defender of the marginalized and fearless of the machine. Flavor Flav: the hype man, seemingly a cross between Daffy Duck, a crack addict, and Kool Moe Dee. Professor Griff: back up MC and leader of the S1W's (which was a paramilitary dance troop... the lines of fiction and reality really got blurred). Terminator X: hands down the most vicious and abled DJ of the times. Better than Grandmaster Flash.
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Things started to get interesting as PE gained attention outside of the urban circles they came from. White America was very threatened by the militant nature of the lyrics; even at times depicting unapologetic violence against the establishment. Where NWA was easy to write off as hoods, PE posed a new threat; the Educated Black. While most of PE's material is an exercise in martyr fantasies, stories revealing a deep persecution complex, and conspiracy theories gone wild, they hit a nerve. Afrocentrism was not going to go away, and the system was indeed exposed for being an Old Boys Club for whites. PE was one of the few acts that could point out the disparities of America and also express adequate anger to mobilize troops. The album had very little distraction; critics had to deal with the message. There was no gang-bang glorification, there was no misogyny. "It Takes..." was a voice unheard in many corners of the nation, and because it was so perfectly executed musically, the message spread.
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Even though it is cartoonish at times, PE's "It Takes..." represents the first real intelligent rebel music since Bob Marley. It made those of us in the white Midwest ask some questions. Does this stuff really happen? Are drugs that out of control in big cities? Is our government actually using prisons as a file cabinet for blacks? Is TV really ruining the minds on lower and middle class America? Is there more to life than partying? Who is Malcom X? What is the Nation of Islam? Do people really run around with berets and bazookas in NYC? Did the government kill black leaders?
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Many of the answers we came to may have been different than depicted on "It Takes..." but the fact remains that we became informed, enlightened, and aware. Any true concern for racial justice that I have within my heart is rooted in my exposure to Public Enemy. Malcom X was born in Omaha, and I hadn't even heard his name until I heard PE. Chuck D 1, System 0. I began to read about Douglas, X, King, Ghandi, and Farrakhan. While I still think that Afrocentrism is just injustice of another color, I think I have become a lot more culturally sensitive and aware since.
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As a side note, PE's controversy went far beyond the lyrics on their LP. Professor Griff was very outspoken on his beliefs related to the nation of Islam. As we all know, any blanket criticism of the Jewish community had better be well founded. His was not, and a poorly written expose on his views (think a non-drunk Mel Gibson) got him into a bit of hot water, and he was soon out of PE. Not to be upstaged, on the follow up LP "Fear of a Black Planet" Chuck launches a salvo at the Jews; "Crucifixion ain't no fiction... so-called Chosen frozen, apologies made to whoever pleases...still they got me like Jesus." By the time they were done calling out Hollywood, the government, media, Jews, and the United States health system it was hard to take all of it seriously. Thus the eyebrow raising lyrics became (in the eyes of detractors) shtick. Oh, and then Flav got in trouble with drugs and illegitimate children. Go figure.
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As a less interesting side note, this album was also one of the first to take an unapologetic stab at the then new sport of music copyright litigation. I know, I know, Ray Davies sued the Doors. It had happened before. But now they were suing the hip hop industry over use of samples... trying to break hip hop at its core; rap had always been deeply rooted in the MC scene... reggae MC's rapping over the songs a DJ chose. It evolved into hip hop when just the break beats were used to create a wave of body rockin' rhythm, where an MC could brag and boast and call out his rivals. Without the source material, hip hop would have to rely on producing its own beats, its own breaks. The only other option was to pay royalties, which seemed ludicrous and impossible, as hip hop in its infancy was the voice of the poor and outcast (much as punk was in its early days). As Chuck would say "this is a samplin' sport." The rise of litigation against hip hop acts (sadly, even my beloved Flo and Eddie sued De La Soul) forced a shift in approach to hip hop. It evolved, but in a very limited manner. To this day you hear the same recycled synth and drum machine riffs and beats. If there ever was a conspiracy to shut down the voice of Black America, this was a masterstroke in operations. However, thanks to the litigation we have less good hip hop, and more Diddy. A classic LP, a historical turning point, and a great listen.
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And it makes me miss track meets. Horns up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Traffic - "John Barleycorn Must Die" (Island Records, 1970) [key tracks: Glad, Stranger To Himself]
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"There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try. And these three men made a solemn vow; John Barleycorn must die! They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in, threw clods upon his head. And these three men made a solemn vow; John Barleycorn was dead."
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As I sit and stare at a pile of records, most of which need sleeves, all of which are incredible musical milestones in my life, I cannot decide what to photograph. I have been looking at the pile for an hour. Four new Anthrax LPs, a modern classic Melvins set (that I accidentally defaced opening...thanks for nothing lazy Ebay seller), a southern rock hidden gem, and the usual cast of stoner rock and alternative masterpieces. I have an embarrassment of riches. So today, I am going the safe route, and using one of my "backup" plans. Behold, Traffic.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #32 - Karma Police by Radiohead
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As hinted at above, I need to save excitement and hyperbole for the coming months of posts. I wish all of you would just start coming over to my house and get the adoration and reviews in person. It would be easier on this man with his limited vocabulary. But much like my fingers need a preemptive pause before the onslaught of posts, my ears needed a break from extreme metal, avaunt-garde post punk, and blunting stoner rock. Traffic perfectly fits that groove. A jazzy, bluesy, rock outfit featuring Steve Winwood (who has a fantastic voice despite his questionable solo milk-toast-pop 80's hits) and a lot of flute. Not that they are Jethro Tull, or even progressive. Instead, they are musicians. Pure and simple. The compositions are very technical, and enjoyable. Think of early and mid era Fleetwood Mac, but enjoyable. For anyone who enjoys rock and roll, Traffic is a no brainer.
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The standout track is the title cut, an arrangement of an old folk song about, well, you decide. The controversy is that it is a call to alcohol abstinence, others say it was a literal reading of a murder done to benefit the community, yet a few retain that it has to do with the nature of business (the big guy pushing out the little guy). Closet whisky fans, like myself, prefer to see it as a call to enjoy as much uisce beatha as possible before Johnny is killed.
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Some trivia about this burlap-sack-themed LP; it was originally intended as a Winwood solo LP, but as the compositions grew more interesting and varied in genre (hippy psychedelic folk jazz pop prog hard rock), members of Traffic started signing on one by one. Soon it was a fully realized Traffic project. Go figure. So put it on, let it spin, and toss one back. Rest up honey, you'll need your strength for the coming storm of vinyl. Don't worry (hic), I'll be here to guide you. Me and John (hic).
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Horns up.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Haunted - "The Dead Eye" (Century Media, 2006) [key tracks: The Medusa, The Shifter, The Flood]
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"High on fire and solid confidence; truthful rantings, but no one is listening. Check collateral, sweep the corners... the fear of words in a fu**ed-up reality. Steal my freedom of speech, my liberty, fail my rights to express myself... All this Half-Life semper-fi stone-faced bullsh** infecting me to deplete my design. I'm drowning in the fear of gods; the more I see the less I want. I was not raised to shut my mouth, but as long as it holds me I'll fight it and scold it, all my life!"
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Next week is going to full of fun posts for me. As I mentioned, in the last month I scored 4 of my top 5 most wanted LPs, and even scored 2 of my favorite LPs ever which I was not even aware existed on vinyl. Happy month for me! Back to the metal today as we look at a modern classic...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #33 - Cure for Pain by Morphine
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The Haunted. How did I ever miss these guys' existence? Oh wait, I know, because their earlier albums were above average modern Euro-metal. That isn't to say they weren't good, there were just so many others like them. Hailing from Sweden, you sort of build a pre-conceived notion of what to expect... nihilistic black metal right? Screams and blast beats? Until the LP before this one, yep. "rEVOLVEr" was a watershed moment... you could still hear the old recipe at work, but something in their eyes changed focus... you could tell they were jumping off into a new direction. And which direction is that? Where were they looking to for the future?
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How about brutal, industrial-influenced thrash-and-emo-metal. That maybe undersells how great it is. Let me put it another way... "The Dead Eye" is better produced, heavier, and more thrilling than any Tool album since "Undertow." Stunned? I was too. They resisted the urge to turn sludge metal cum whining (ala Isis), or over dramatic concept driven metal (ala Neurosis) and just unleashed a grind/thrash album with a message and a soul. Thank God thrash music still exists without the horrible Nordic cliches that usually come packaged with it. There is still plenty of screaming and violence, but there are also down tempo pieces; movements that do an unexpectedly good job at evoking true emotion, just to set you up for a tidal wave of fury. It never becomes tiring, repetitive, or self-indulgent. It was as if they were aware at all times to throw out even one solo that smelled of past offerings. The bar for modern thrash has now been set higher.
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My favorite song, "The Medusa," is a must hear for anyone being neglected or rejected by a woman. The macho helplessness-slash-murderous-hate that comes out of lead singer Doving's mouth are sinister in every aspect of the word. "She is a saint, her womb is a place of rejection. She washes her perfect skin quietly, and hates me for being real!"
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I would say that "The Dead Eye" is a sleeper smash, and the most overlooked LP of 2006. If you are looking for something that has some real power behind it, and a hell of a lot of talent, this is a must buy. From art direction to production values, this is a perfect modern metal LP. And in my humble opinion, it ranks up in the pantheon of all time metal classics (somewhere lower than "Number of the Beast" and higher than "Justice for All"). Not since Sepultura's "Chaos AD" have I heard a diversion from form this drastic come out so perfect. I hope they can keep it up!
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Horns up!

Sunday, September 02, 2007



Guns n' Roses - "Appetite for Destruction" (Geffen Records, 1987) [key tracks: My Michelle, Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, Sweet Child O' Mine]
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"Wake up late, "honey put on your clothes. Take your credit card to the liquor store." That's one for you and two for me... by tonight I'll be loaded like a freight train, flyin' like an aeroplane, feelin' like a space brain one more time tonight"
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Here it is, in all of its hessian glory. "Appetite for Destruction." 20 years ago, and a few months because I am running way late, this audio-kick-in-the-throat was released, and rock has never been the same. The second pic, the one with the robots and rape victim, was the original cover, which later was stuffed into the inner sleeve and replaced with the now famous G'n'F'n'R cross. Read on about the LP below.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #34 - Fix Me by Black Flag
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The best thing to me about Guns n' Roses' debut LP was not that it was so freaking awesome, a true benchmark in rock and roll. It wasn't that it had so many hits, both popular and hard core. It wasn't the genuine and gritty street feel of the songs, or the incredible talent. It wasn't the unique voice, strange look, brutal lyrics, or legendary stage presence. Nope, to me what was most excellent was the way they instantly self destructed, becoming a cartoonish parody of both themselves and the rock and roll archetype.
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Axel became notorious for shooting off his mouth, throwing tantrums, getting into altercations, and showing up late. The whole band struggled with drug dependency and alcohol abuse. Their lives had until "Appetite" revolved around playing incendiary live shows, getting talked up by every talent scout in the rock and roll business, then going home and crashing with heroin, strippers, and whisky. The scouts went back, told the executives about how great they were, and how they know they would make a million, but it was agreed across the board that they were too volatile. It wasn't a question of IF but of WHEN they would explode into a million shattered pieces of wasted talent and opportunity.
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Finally the demand for hard rock and the untapped originality of G'n'R forced someone to make a move. Geffen signed them, cranked out the pinnacle of 80's rock and roll, and sat back and counted the cash. As soon as they came onto the scene, they were the reigning kings of rock. No one looked, sounded, acted, or played like them. Their songs were in movies, on MTV, and the radio. Before the songs were released as singles, pretty much everyone I knew already had the LP and had memorized it. By the time Paradise City hit the air (the fourth single, released a remarkable 2 years after the LP), the LP had already cemented itself into our minds as legend. It was, and is, up there with "Master of Reality," "Zoso/IV", "Back in Black", and "Dark Side of the Moon." It was a must have, must listen. And 20 years later, you can still listen to every song, no matter how overplayed ("Sweet Child o' Mine") or how ridiculous ("Rocket Queen"), and it still rocks. Beginning to end... the best hard rock album ever. Or, if you like superlatives, the Zepplin "Zoso/IV" of our generation.
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Then just as soon as they came, they went. They couldn't handle the attention and fame. The money and sudden adoration just made more opportunities to get into trouble, or to become pissed off. By the time the "hold on, we're making them work" EP "Lies" was released, fans were pretty impatient. The half-old material/half-acoustic B-sides album woudl have been the death of them if it wasn't for "Patience." Then there was a long, quiet intertestamental period where they released a couple new songs ("Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Civil War"); but in actuality it was ages before the 2 LP train wreck of mediocrity and smug self-importance "Use Your Illusion Vol. 1 and 2." Throw in an embarrassing EP of garbage called "The Spaghetti Incident" and you have a candle that burned twice as bright for half as long. Die hard fans are still waiting for the second coming, the elusive "Chinese Democracy" which is basically just Axel and whoever his ego hasn't chased off, and which may never actually be released.
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There you have it. It was the Holy Grail of modern hard rock, and yet it was also the eulogy to a street-level anomaly. I did lose one bet however... Axel Rose is still alive. I swore he would die before 2000. At least he looks dead, which makes me feel like I wasn't that far off. The saddest news of all was that rock and roll still has yet to offer up an "album" experience to match. 20 years, and nothing close. The only candidates are Nirvana's "Nevermind," Radiohead's "OK Computer," and U2's "Achtung Baby"... none of which added anything new to rock, and all were niche/genre hits (and to be honest, all but "OK..." have wore thin). If Coldplay is all rock has left to offer, then send me back to 1987.
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Horn's up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vanilla Fudge - "Near the Beginning" (Atco Records, 1969)
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"<organ solo>"
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Okay, so no G'n'F'n'R today. Sorry Matt. Before the end of the week I swear. I have so many great new LPs that I I need to get the camera out anyway. Not even an impending Pharmacotherapeutics test can kill my buzz over owning Melvins "Houdini" on LP now. I am at once both unable to explain and embarrassed how excited it makes me. And, the best album of the year, Menomena's "Friend and Foe," is being mailed my way on lovely vinyl as well. I have been DYING to review that LP, I had no idea it was pressed. Get that CD BTW. It is simply the pinnacle of 2007 music, and I would say that it would be hard to top it. But Ween does have a new LP soon...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #35 - Soul to Squeeze by Red Hot Chili Peppers
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By the way, for you new comers, I am listing my top 50 favorite songs of all time. I won;t comment on them until the top ten. They purposely do not match the LPs displayed, and are intentionally brief segments in the posts. That should do for housekeeping for another 15 posts or so...
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The Vanilla Fudge. Pure rock fury. No, that's Clutch. Pure psychedelic fury. More like it. I am posting this both because it is fantastic, and because its a gem in my collection, but also because there isn't much to say. If you like long organ and guitar acid grooves, and like to hear rock/Motown standards turned inside out ala shrooms, then the Fudge is where you are at. Its like progressive rock without the capes and poems. Between "Some Velvet Morning" and the side long Allman Brothers on Acid jam of "Break Song", your mind will be open. I got into them because Frank Zappa mentioned them a lot (negatively however, because people always expected the Mothers to sound like them), and because Al K. played their seminal track/cover tune "You Keep Me Hanging On." Incredible. Definitely head music that was at the same time a cliche and an achievement. If you like the Doors' more spacey jams, and early Yes, Pink Floyd, and Emerson Lake and Palmer, you got your self a new band to check out. Hey stoner, buy it already!
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Horns up!
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "Some Loud Thunder" (self released, 2007)
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"All this talking... you'd think I'd have something to say. But I'm just talking, like a siren getting louder and farther away"
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It was an odd twist of coincidence. I was going to post and ask y'all to start firing off requests for albums to review... as long as they were in my collection, or attainable (no, Rich, Adam Again "Dig" is not on vinyl that I know of), and out of no where Matt makes such a request. "You have to," he says. The album? "Appetite for Destruction." Its the 20th anniversary (dear God, that long already?). So I agreed. I will take pics and do it soon. I wanted to take a short break from metal, lest I become a cliche.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #36 - If the Truth Be Known by No Laughing Matter
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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are a triumph. They exemplify music as an art form. They are entirely self supported and published; no label, just word of mouth. Their first LP was a marvel, and garnered a lot of buzz. Two of the three most powerful Davids in the world were even fans (Bowie and Byrne, leaving only Letterman to climb on board). While they are a modern take on Talking Heads, They Might Be Giants, and Violent Femmes, they sound little like any of those bands. Furthermore, the hard-to-love-if-you-are-only-a-casual-fan vocals further separate them from anyone coming before. Their 2007 LP, "Some Loud Thunder," was hotly anticipated. Could they repeat? Would there be a slump? Was it all overblown to start with?
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Most critics and moderate fans hated the new LP in its first few days of life. I was very upset to read the negative reviews, because almost all of them didn't get the art aspect of music. It's useless to try to explain to people that when a band has a hit that they don't always strike gold again. And the sophomore slump is usually the result of pressures and expectations out of the band's control. But CYHSY suffered from none of this, yet people turned on them. The biggest criticism is that the album sounded different, that it was more dissonant, that they over experimented with odd production effects, and that it wasn't as good as the first LP. All you have to do is listen to the first track on the first LP to get where they are coming from... they are experimenting with sounds as a collage; building a mood and a way to express feeling without being explicit (meaning "clear," not "dirty").
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If I am ever allowed to teach my dream course, modern music appreciation, I would use "Some Loud Thunder" as a test LP to see if a pupil has patience to appreciate music as art (much as early Modest Mouse, solo Frank Zappa, or middle period Bjork would have served to do before). While it is devoid of any real mix-tape igniting singles, it is a complete and fantastic LP. It was a great start to the slew of '07 releases, and to be honest, it was less of a disappointment than many of the follow-ups released so far (QOTSA leading the way on that list, holy crap was that a miss). Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are for music fans who spend more time lost in thought than trying to work on their fret board work. And best yet, it isn't for the tight jeans set.
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Horns up!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath" (Warner Brothers Records, 1970) [key tracks: NIB, The Wizard]
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"Now I have you with me, under my power. Our love grows stronger now with every hour. Look into my eyes, you will see who I am... My name is Lucifer, please take my hand"
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Hey! I am back. You still check this site? Cool! Way cool! Lots happened this summer. The biggest news from Carl-ville is that we bought our first house. Its a nice little house in Council Bluffs. Come over anytime. I'll make you listen to records though. That's right, the man-cave is fully operational. Now NFL just needs to begin... Other news that makes me happy is the fact that I have now, in my possession, 3 of my top 5 wished for records. More on that in entries to come. And, I started my P3 year of pharmacy school (again... heh). Anyway, busy busy. On to the rock!
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #37 - Wasted Years by Iron Maiden
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Decibel Magazine recently had a Stoner Rock themed issue, in which they attempted to list the top Stoner albums of all time. I have very little quarrel with anyone making a list, because I know how complex and hard it is to do. However, my brother was upset to see that the number one album of all time was "Master of Reality" by Black Sabbath. In his opinion, it should be their first album. And I have a hard time making a good argument against him. The debut LP from Ozzy and crew is as chest crushing and soul blackening today as it was new and thrilling then... hearkening to groove metal and doom metal that wouldn't arise for a decade or two after the LP hit shelves. Frank Zappa himself often stated that his idea of the perfect rock songs/sound was a variety of Sabbath tunes from their first few LPs. The horror show, low toned, plodding macabre blues rock set the pace for ALL good metal bands to come. It is senseless to list Sabbath as an influence; from appearance, to theme material, to sound and packaging... all of metal as we know it is built on the Sabbath template (and to be fair, Zepplin too).
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On this LP, we are introduced to the demonic-yet-perfect vocals of Ozzy, the jazz/doom bass of Geezer Butler, and the still 10-fingered guitar wizardry of Tommy Iommi. The epic tracks just keep coming at you... "Black Sabbath," which is more of a tone setter for their career than a band theme song (the song is itself a miracle; inspired by the Boris Karloff movie that inspired them to change from a blues band named Earth to Black Sabbath, a demonic vision seen by Geezer, and uses a musical trick known as a dissonant harmonic progression with augmented fourth... banned once by Christian monks as being diabolus en musica... the evil-metal connection sealed in blood once and for all), "NIB" which is the musical equivalent of a Hammer horror film, "The Wizard" (a song which it at once about a literal wizard ala Gandalf, and the bands drug dealer. The theme and tone is set for all stoner rock to come, both in fantasy and herbal use), and "Behind the Wall of Sleep" which makes H.P. Lovecraft fandom a requirement for all future metal heads. The LP simply kills (that is p0wns for you l33t fans).
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Well, no use talking about Sabbath, better go listen to it. Thanks for checking in, lots of new vinyl was bought this summer, so I have some great treasures to share with you all. Horns up!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Smith - "Meat is Murder" (Rough Trade, 1985) [key tracks: That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore]
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"Park the car at the side of the road. You should know time's tide will smother you (and I will too). When you laugh about people who feel so very lonely their only desire is to die, well I'm afraid it doesn't make me smile... I wish I could laugh... but that joke isn't funny anymore. It's too close to home and it's too near the bone, it's too close to home and it's too near the bone, more than you'll ever know..."
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There are a lot of things in this world I do not understand. I mean, I couldn't even start to catalog even the stuff that I know I don't know. I don't know why people can't live content with what they have. I don't know why nations (and families) always seem to feel as if they have to expand or die. I don't understand the desire to just sit and be passive your whole life in front of a TV, and I don't understand people who don't want to learn anything once they exit the compulsory part of their education. But mostly, I do not understand why in the hell the new Transformers movie is being made. Worse than that, why did they make Bumblebee anything other than a VW bug? A Chevy Camaro? I guess they know their demographic.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #38 - Let Forever Be by The Chemical Brothers
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According to my brother, the only people around here who like The Smiths are me and Jana. I think there are others. Anyway, "Meat Is Murder" is the best showcase of how all-over-the-board the Smiths truly were. It was their second LP, and already they were growing and becoming very diverse in sound. The debut LP sold not as well as hoped, and rather than go back to teh same well, they decided to throw an absolute caledoscope of styles at music fans; whether to see what would stick or as a middle finger to people who expected easy to love pop, we'll never really know. Morrissey's lyrics are sometimes poetic, sometimes pompous and laughable, where the music lilts between dark and hopeful, indy rock and pop, folk and dance with ease. Yet, it yielded a couple accessible singles. The biggest song of the album isn't even ON THE ALBUM. The quintessential emo song "How Soon is Now?" is a monument to 80's new wave/pop rock. You'd know it immediately if you heard it... "I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does..." The problem is, it was only tacked on to the US release of "Meat is Murder" to help encourage the Yanks to buy the LP. It wasn't until the 1990's that the song officially became a canonical part of the albums set list (that is, on all forthcoming releases and reprints). The title track is a less than eloquent/non-interesting treatise on being a vegetarian. I'm not sold by the way, and it stands out as the worst cut on the LP. And those who allow the LP to grow on them will find it a rich expereince. Don't forget to savor "I Want The One I Can't Have." While not the most accessible, cynical, or moving LP from the Smiths, it is a classic of 1980's alternative rock.
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My copy is one of the original UK copies, sans "How Soon Is Now?" which is fun for a collector and music purist, but disappointing for someone who loves that song. Anyway the LP in question is a fantastic treasure for a Smiths fan, and I found mine at a store in Omaha for pretty cheap and in fantastic condition. Kudos to any music store that doesn't succumb to overpricing or listing all the goodies on Ebay rather that allowing those of us who dig through stacks until our fingertips are black to find a few gems.
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My favorite song on the LP is "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," a song I listened to a dozen times on a long tear filled road trip home from Denver during a time of great personal crisis and betrayal. Don't even try to tell me I don't have an emo side!
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Horn's up!
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Sunday, June 03, 2007


Modest Mouse - "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" (Epic, 2007) [key tracks: Dashboard, Missed the Boat]
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"Oh, and we carried it all so well...As if we got a new position. Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell... Saying yes, this is a fine promotion."
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Its the post of underwhelming revelations. David Hyde Pierce is gay. Really?! Charles Nelson Riley is no longer alive. Really?! The 2007 MTV Movie Awards was infantile and boring. Really?! Sylvester Stallone uses 'roids. Really?!
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #39 - Televators by The Mars Volta
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The new Modest Mouse album wasn't as great as I had hoped. Really?! It isn't bad; in fact, it is quite good. It is well planned and executed, and the songs are as fun and smart alek/philosophical as always. In many ways, its my favorite LP this year. But it isn't what I had hoped. The last album was the first time I ever heard a single and drove straight-away to a store to buy an album. I saw the "Float On" video and within 15 minutes I was at Target. I soon filled my iPod with anything Mouse I could get a hold of. I love it all. So when I heard "Dashboard" (iTunes had a great pre-release single deal), and learned that Johnny Marr (guitarist for the almighty Smiths) was now in the band, I expected Gospel. So I was let down. Really?! Some great moments exist on the album however; Isaac's presence is as bombastic as ever, and Marr's guitar work proves that the Smiths were great because of the synergy between him and Moz. (Morrissey will be in Omaha this summer too, by the way...maybe he was already here... regardless, solo he is a shell of his former greatness). If you want to hear intelligent, adult "alternative" music, buy this LP. If you want a few snazzy singles to jazz up your iPod Mini and trick young girls into thinking you are hip, buy the new Linkin Park (ugh) or anything off of American Idol (urp).
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Horn's Up!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pink Floyd - "Meddle" (Harvest, 1971) [key tracks: Fearless, Echoes]
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"You say the hill's too steep to climb, you say you'd like to see me try. You pick the place and I'll choose the time, and I'll climb that hill in my own way. Just wait a while for the right day. And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds, I look down, hearing the sound of the things you've said today. "
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I am not gay. And I am not weird. Not that gay is weird, I am just saying. But I like scarves. Scarves and teapots. Oh, and the sound of xylophones. Scarves, teapots, xylophones, and little figurines of cute bunnies. Oh man, I need a drink...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #40 - Runnin' With the Devil by Van Halen
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"Meddle" is hands down my favorite Pink Floyd album. I know, I know, it should be "Dark Side of the Moon," or at least "The Wall." Truth is, I don't have DSOTM on vinyl, and frankly, as good as "The Wall" is, I feel that "Meddle" is more original and interesting. The odd, minimalist art that adorns the cover sort of sets the mood for the LP, which is a jumble of tunes from a band starting to hit their stride. Floyd was finally shedding their psychedelic, art-folk-pop roots and stepping into the realm of pre-stoner, anti-prog-hard-prog-rock (get all that?). The LP opens with "One of These Days," a song that outright rocks in a vein similar to late 80's Queensryche, and has only one line of vocals... spoken through a demonic distortion "One of these days I am going to cut you into little pieces." A hard right turn is taken, and Floyd unleashes a wistful, mature acoustic peace called "A Pillow of Winds." It is the third track where they dig their hooks in, which is also where I find great inspiration. The song is "Fearless," talking about someone who is seen as society's fool, yet still strives to rise above their station. Pretty powerful stuff. Plus, the haunting echoes of "You'll Never Walk Alone" (crowd fight song of FC Liverpool) are chilling. The last 2 tracks of side one are throw aways in my humble opinion, one being a sappy love song and the other a tongue-in-cheek blues song featuring a dog on vocals. The second side is entirely populated by the trippy "Echoes," probably the first great Pink Floyd song (again, in my humble opinion). It is a 20 minute+ epic that explores the themes of sailing, whales, space, and God. Pretty hair raising stuff. It alternates between new-age-esque swelling and soaring, only to then surge into a full-on operatic rock and roll jam. A must hear. "Meddle" may not be the best jump-in spot for new Floyd fans, but I think it is a nice reward for exploring beyond DSOTM.
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Two odd side notes about this LP. One, Andrew Lloyd Weber is accused of ripping off some of the music from "Echoes" for "Phantom of the Opera." Roger Waters never took him to court, but let's just say Weber never got a Christmas card from Pink Floyd. Secondly, I just recently read on Wikipedia that "Echoes" allegedly synchronizes perfectly with the star-gate sequence of 2001:A Space Odyssey (my favorite movie of all-time, hands down). This is another coincidence I am sure, much as the DSOTM/Wizard of Oz synchronization is, but there are some tantalizing facts that make the story more appealing. Kubrick wanted Floyd to score 2001, but it never came together. Actually, Floyd didn't see the need to be involved with scoring a film and passed. Which is weird because they did "More," but that is another story. Kubrick, a fan of Floyd, even has one of their albums up-front and center in the infamous record store scene in A Clockwork Orange. So was this a conscientious synchronization (laughable, considering the somewhat Herculean task it would have been back in those days, before home video and such), or just another statistical anomaly? Three, "Echoes" was once referred to alternately as "Son of Nothing" and "Return of the Son of Nothing," which bring to mind a pair of soul-crushing songs by Electric Wizard (zealots of Floyd-infused stoom) named "Son of Nothing" and "Return to the Son of Nothing." Coincidence? Homage? Rippage?
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What effect can music have on a person? Well, pre-9-11 Republicans were convinced that music motivated every level of sinful action, including the cause of mass murder. The truth is that music is an amplifier of emotions already dormant in you. If you are a hateful person, music emboldens that hate. And if you are perpetually in love, as some of us are, it "enbiggens" (thanks Springfield) that emotion. For me, "Meddle" is catharsis. Both "Fearless" and "Echoes" speak to me, and there was a 3 week period recently that all I listened to was "Meddle." Literally. I must have listened to the album 30 times. There is a line that sort of speaks where my soul is stoically mute, and I will share it then sign off. If you get it, you get me.
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"Cloudless, everyday you fall upon my waking eyes... Inviting and inciting me to rise. And through the window in the wall come streaming in, on sunlight wings. A million bright ambassadors of morning; and no one sings me lullabies, and no one makes me close my eyes, so I throw the windows wide and call to you across the sky..."
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Horns up!

Monday, May 28, 2007


Yes - "Fragile" (Atlantic Records, 1971) [key tracks: Roundabout, Long Distance Runaround]
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B-b-b-b-back. Seems like it has been a long time since I posted, and it has. So I need to do a little house cleaning. First of all, Joan Jett is still hot and still rocks. Second, Carlin you are alive! I haven't heard from you for like a year. Gimmie a email or call or something. Third, I found a new record store in Omaha (Zero Street) that has yielded gems on both visits so far, Drastic Plastic bought out some dude's Iron Maiden collection which I am slowly assimilating into mine, and not to be outdone I found 2 incredible finds at Kanesville the following week. Way to step it up local record stores! Lastly, my plan to burn Early Man into the minds of as many people as possible is officially successful. They owe me a nod on their next LP's linear notes. Psychological warfare for the sake of metal. Heh. On with the show...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #41 - Land of Confusion by Genesis
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I won't lie. I got into "Fragile" only recently, and for two reasons: one, Monster Magnet's epic stoner song "Nod Scene" mentions it with high regard, and two, because my friend/boss Dan tells me often about how they commissioned someone to paint Roger Dean's sweet LP artwork on their dorm wall back when he was at University of Iowa. Yes is at once the pinnacle and nadir of progressive rock. When they were fresh, nothing is as sweeping and as energetic as their keyboards, jazz bass, hard rock drums, and spacey guitars. When they were stale, they were a self mockery that exposed what is wrong with prog rock. "Fragile" stands out as one of the "classics" of both Yes' and rock's history, yielding the massive jam "Roundabout." The album sweeps in and out of styles... from hard rock to folk, from pop to classical, yet the sound of the album as a whole maintains an even tone, which makes it a cohesive product. Its tempting to call anything that stands as a unit a concept album, but really the only conceptualization occurring in in Dean's artwork... the front cover shows citizens of a peaceful world trying to escape in a wooden star-boat, and the rear cover shows that same world splintering into islands (which are later used as imagery in Yes tunes, but not here). All in all this is a fantastic head trip and a great introductory LP to classic rock, prog rock, and Yes.
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There you go, back in the swing of things. I should be quite productive this week, as I took many pictures ahead of time and am ready to share some of my collection. Actually I want to show off, because I found some great vinyl lately. Have a safe Memorial Day!
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Horns up!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Early Man - "Closing In" (Matador, 2005) [key tracks: Feeding Frenzy, Fist Shaker]
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"This is what they do when they're after you! "
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So I have started my summer reading a little early. Currently I am reading about the Black Plague. One of the many fascinating things about the era of the Plague is that it is one of the few biological selective events humans have faced in modern times. What does this mean? Well, there are those who think that if you descended from a survivor from Plague haunted lands, that you may have a genetic mutation that will help you in ways we don;t yet fully understand how to exploit. In short, we have a receptor called CCR5, and this is used by T-Cells and the HIV virus alike. A mutation in this receptor can be traced to about 700 years ago, the time of the Plague. This mutation can either slow the progression of HIV to AIDS, or even make you immune to AIDS as we know it today. All I can say is wow. Interesting reading.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #42 - Chop Suey! by System of a Down
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Early Man is a gift to Carl from the music gods. Not because they sound like 1980's metal, which they do. Not because they have perfectly mastered the aggro-mindless lyrical approach of thrash, which they do. Not because they rock, or make a mighty noise with 2 people, or that they can totally riff. But I love them because of their back story. The two members, Mike and Adam, were both raised in strict religious (Pentecostal) households. Once they turned 18/19 (depending on who's version of the legend you listen to), they found a big exciting world out there... including all those tapes and records of classic metal that they have never heard. Of course, they fell in love with it. King Diamond, Iron Maiden, WASP, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath... all of it sounded fresh and exciting. So what did they do? Start a metal band... an old school metal band. And they rip! All triplets, double bass, and high pitched "yeaaaaaahh!", Early Man makes an old metal fan's heart miss a beat. This LP is just over 42 minutes, but goes by way too fast. Not for the faint of heart, and definitely not ground breaking, but it is instantly one of the best metal LPs I own.
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One thing I found funny was the whole image of this band. Funny as in hilarious. They shun their parents' enforced legalistic religion and fell right into the fear of such Fundamentalists... the world of heavy metal. The second deadly sin is their name, Early Man, which alludes to another thorn in the side of Fundies... evolution. Also scary to a Pentecostal are the topics; death, war, persecution, and fire. Unbelievable, and even more so that it is not done with irony. Unlike Dragonforce, this is a band that makes you fall in love with the 80's metal scene all over again. Oh, and no keyboards on Early Man, so even better! Lastly, they shy away from over doing it. There is no gore, no Satanism, no cartoony sword wielding epics (which can be good, if you pull it off... right The Sword?). Just plain rock and fu**in' roll. So for their concerted stab at hypocrisy and superstition, we salute you.
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Horns up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Def Leppard - "Pyromania" (Mercury, 1983) [key tracks: Foolin', Photograph, Rock of Ages]
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"Lady luck never smiles, so lend your love to me awhile. Do with me what you will; break the spell, take your fill. On and on we rode the storm... the flame has died and the fire has gone. Oh, this empty bed is a night alone, I realized that long ago..."
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I guess Shock Week is over. I didn't want to dig too deeply into my recently alphabetized record boxes, so you get this album today. Not that I wasn't going to write about it eventually anyway! So, what else have I been up to? Reading. A lot. And trying to finish up this semester. I won't lie, I have been having a very hard time with the fact that my classmates are moving on and I am left behind. Been a rough week for me. So what a great week to review an LP that has served me well for many, many years.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #43 - Raspberry Beret by Prince
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"Pyromania" is by far Def Leppard's best LP. It is hard to believe now, but they were once considered part of the almighty NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal), which was supposedly rewriting rock and roll in the wake of Zepplin and Sabbath's decent into self-indulgence and inner strife. Iron Maiden was the biggest representative of the NWOBHM, so when you think of the band who sang "Pour Some Sugar On Me," you tend to giggle. But back in the day, they were metal. Their first couple LPs weren't much to hear, but when they infused just a taste of pop, it resulted in an epic rock and roll LP. "Pyromania" is one of those albums that stands as a unit, not a collection of hits and misses. Of the 10 tracks on the LP, 8 are bona fide rock standards. It wouldn't be, in my opinion, until "Appetite for Destruction" that metal offered such a fantastic LP. The LP is almost 25 years old and I still head bang and lift the mighty mano cornuto as I drive around CB. It sold an impressive 6 million copies in 1983 alone, and that is just in the States. At the height of their popularity, Def Leppard was standing for what was right (and wrong) with metal. The problem was this; the trade-off for the nod to pop was not that metal-heads left, it was that the mall crowd came. Suddenly they were a household name, and the fan base swelled. Nothing kills a genre band more than crossing-over. So what do you do? Swing back into obscurity, give up, or sell out? Leppard sold out. But at least they left one massive metal LP behind. Along with Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil," Venom's "At War With Satan," Metallica's "Kill 'em All," Slayer's "Show No Mercy," Dio's "Holy Diver," and Iron Maiden's "Piece of Mind", 1983 was one epic year to be a metal fan. Let's remember, 1983 was the year for Huey Lewis' "Sports" after all...
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That's it. That's all I got. Go buy the "new" JRR Tolkein book if you haven't. It will be the last thing (allegedly) ever published under his name. Christopher (his son) has done a pretty good job as literary executor, unlike Frank Herbert's no-talent son. If any of this makes sense to you, you are a huge nerd... like me. Horns way up.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Jane's Addiction - "Nothing's Shocking" (Warner Brothers, 1988) [key tracks: Jane Says, Ocean Size, Mountain Song]
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"I was made with a heart of stone, to be broken with one hard blow. I've seen the ocean break on the shore, come together with no harm done..."
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There was a time, less than a year ago, when if I had stepped in dog poop, I would have freaked out. Now, in April 2007, I'd say it happens on a weekly basis. Minimum. The apartment complex has slowly become pet friendly. This is good, because we have a dog (which helps my wife's loneliness problem and my laziness problem). This is bad, because the dirtballs that live in my complex just let their dogs crap wherever they want and don't scoop it up. Getting our own house will be an indescribable triumph on so many levels... And with that, Shock Week winds down to a close.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #44 - No One Came by Deep Purple
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Jane's Addiction personified "shocking." Not only that, they were the enzyme that allowed alternative music to rise from obscurity to a household genre (for better and for worse). "Nothing's Shocking" was their first official LP (they had released an indy LP earlier, but many of the songs would appear again on their major label releases), and they were already a street level phenomena before it was release. By being signed to Warner Brothers, armies of indy bands suddenly had hope; Jane's Addiction led the way for a musical revolution. As you can tell by the cover, they are all about artistically challenging societal norms. That, and they liked drugs. Perry Farrel, the lead singer, used to dress very flamboyantly; adorned in make up, colorful jewelry, and feminine clothing (more than David Lee Roth's spandex and silk, Farrel wore corsets, hosiery, and so on). This (at the time) was very shocking indeed (even though we were used to seeing metal bands dress this way, it was odd to see a straight man in music proudly devoid of any machismo). Also shocking was their lifestyle; this was a time when tattoos and piercings were not common at all... people were still debating if a man should pierce his ear. Jane's Addiction led the way for every 20 something white girl to have pierced nipples, tongue rings, and lower back tattoos.
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On stage they were nothing short of combustible performance art. They weren't the scariest or most shocking live act around, but they were the scariest and most shocking major label live act around (unless you count the Chili Peppers and their sexual harassment lawsuit... the infamous socks on cocks meet teen girls case). Perry would often strip naked and prance around in a very Iggy Pop like fashion. Guitarist Dave Navarro would lay down some pretty heavy jams, utilizing the guitar to pump out some spacey sounds (and before Rage Against the Machine came along, he was the only one tripping out these sort of riffs). And of course the rhythm section of Eric Avery (bass) and Stephen Perkins (drums) were unmatched in the subculture from which Jane's Addiction rose. As artsy and new as their sound was, it was rooted in progressive metal and funk, with a taste of punk, but to a different percentage than contemporaries the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Part Led Zepplin, part Pink Floyd, part Stooges, and part Commodores (all meant as compliments) they were one of the tightest and most original of all the early "true" alternative bands.
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The album and band both deserve more than two paragraphs, so consider this a bonus. The album has some amazing tracks. My copy was an early pressing, so it is missing a song ("Pigs in Zen") that may be on all CD copies readily available today. I would venture to say of the 10 tracks on my LP, only 2 are forgettable... and they are the "Up the Beach" intro and the "Thank You Boys" outro. Between these are 8 perfect tracks. You probably have heard "Jane Says" on rock radio, if you listen to rock radio. It became an instant classic, only being nudged out of the limelight for "Been Caught Stealing"(which was on their next LP). If you were really into rock in the 1990's, "Mountain Song" probably popped up a lot in your audio travels. But a song that you need to hear, and one that has deceptively poignant lyrics, is "Ocean Size." The lyrics are a lovechild created by Farrel's love of surfing, and a Zen outlook on life. Their can be dichotomy between people, countries, religions... there can be difference, but they can coexist without clashing, without conflict. And change is within reach. This is the message of this song. I love it, and while I pretty much ignored Jane's Addiction when they were at their apex (I was mostly a metal head in those days), I still mangaed to listen to their stuff, and dug it. Now I look back on their 2 album career as amazing; "Nothing's Shocking" being the purer and better of the two (of course I am going to be partial, since the LP has guest appearances from Flea and 2 members of Fishbone). As is inevitable with all bands with this much creativity and originality, they imploded (alternative bands tend to either implode or sell out). Personalities clashed and they ceased to be cohesive or productive. So once they stirred the pot, invented Lollapallooza, unleashed an edgy lifestyle on the Midwest, and broke the glass ceiling for indy bands, they flung out in separate directions and handed the reigns over to bands like Nirvana and Radiohead to see what they could do with (or to) rock and roll. "Nothing's Shocking" is a perfect LP, and one that any modern rock fan needs to hear and cherish for it's high quality, uniqueness, and the ground breaking change it had on the music scene.
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And for the record, I am not a big fan of Farrel or Navarro. Both have done nothing since Jane's Addiction that in any way appeal to me, and Navarro has become something of a joke upon himself. Too bad, they were so good at the peak. And I am still a little bitter about the floodgate of pure drivel that invaded rock because of Jane's Addiction's success. The 1990's were more of a musical nadir than the 1980's if you ask me. To be completely honest, I think my biggest problem with Jane's Addiction was that they allowed everyone into my little club; they made indy music accessible to all. I realize that this is snobbery of the highest level, but a lot of emotion is invested in these bands that you follow and idolize, only to have some white trash CB queen with a copy of "Nevermind" tell you she loves alternative music. Yeah, that Nirvana disc is right next to Green Day, Eminem, Nickelback, and Korn. No thanks.
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One last item; in high school I was not exactly cool. Big surprise. But there was a girl in all my honor's classes that was pretty and cool. She was quiet and seemed not to run around with a lot of the normal posse of popular chicks. Something was different and attractive about her and I always sort of harbored a little crush on her. Her name was Emily. Anyway, Emily came to calculus one day with a Jane's Addiction t-shirt. They had just played Omaha in support of "Ritual de lo Habitual" (a coup for our musically bland concert scene). It was enough of an incentive for me to strike up a small conversation about the show. We were both surprised to find that each other liked "that sort of music." I talked to her a few more times over my senior year, and she wrote a very nice thing in my yearbook. This is what this sort of music is about; its a scene, and it brings people of like-mind together. When it works, its a great example to the world around to take notice. I haven't talked to Emily since graduation day (15 years ago now) but I hope she has found nothing but happiness, and I hope she still likes "that kind of music."
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Horns up.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Dead Milkmen - "Beelzebubba" (Enigma, 1988) [key tracks: Punk Rock Girl, Stuart, Life Is Sh**]
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"I do not like you college brat. I do not like you and your frat. I do not like you at the shore and I do not like you drunk on Coors. I do not like your average life, hope you do not take a wife. I hope you don't decide to breed 'cause that's one thing I do not need. I do not like you radical, I hate you and your fancy school. You're wrong about the working class and I hope they kick your Harvard ass. 'I do not like you, world of ours, I'd rather live on planet Mars and die from lack of oxygen than breathe the air of other men.'"
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GASP! Shock week continues. The funny thing is my stuff won't be truly shocking. Rock and roll is full of filth and horror, and a person could build a ghastly web page dedicated to it. The Scorpions once had an LP called "Virgin Killer" that featured a full frontal nude picture of a barely pubescent girl. GG Allin lives the sort of demon-possessed life Danzig sings about. Unsane used some truly gruesome (and real) crime-scene photos on all of their early releases. And let's not forget the Dwarves, who always incorporate nude women, little people, blood, and sometimes even crosses on their covers (not to mention their songs are about killing, rape, and deviant sex). So consider my shock collection as "eyebrow raising"; just shocking enough to still be fun.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #45 - Fire Woman by The Cult
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The Dead Milkmen are the princes of slacker punk. More structured than the Butthole Surfers, less drug influenced than The Flaming Lips, a bit more serious than Ween, more musical than King Missile, and more humble than The Dead Kennedys. Every word, cover, and sound is satire of the highest level, yet they come off as bratty and crass. I have listened to The Dead Milkmen perhaps more than any other band, perhaps second only to the Doors (it would be close). "Beelzebubba" was the closest thing they had to a hit album, as it featured the easy-to-spin novelty song "Punk Rock Girl." This song got a lot of attention on MTV, Dr. Demento, and Weird Al TV. The problem is that the band became novelty, and no one realized that there was a lot of fun to be had in all of their stuff. Songs like "I Against Osborne" and "Sri Lanka Sex Hotel" that personify madness, "Bleach Boys" and "Smokin' Banana Peels" that skewer drug abuse, and "Stewart" that fillets Midwest yokel culture (a trailer park king tells a young boy about the horrors of homosexuals and carnivals rides, fearful of what the "queers are doing to the soil"). There is even a track "Born to Love Volcanoes" that criticises society's elite for supporting the arts and PBS when real social change is within reach if they would just write checks to worthwhile charities. "I guess (PBS) needs my money more than a bunch of pregnant teens," is surprisingly poignant for what you expect from the Milkmen. So what's shocking about the Milkmen? Their use of words. "Fu**," "sh**," and so on are on a lot of albums, but are they used in reference to government, religion, and crucifying Charles Nelson Riley? The things they say are incendiary, and not welcome in Iowan households... just ask my wife. You have one of two responses to the Milkmen; that they are quiet geniuses, or that they are totally offensive. Either way, they can shock you.
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It has been a long week for me. I am starting to get the blues again. This stupid weather... it was 80 for like a week, then now we are back to snow, cold, and gloom. I like gloom as much as the next metal head, but this is too much at the wrong time. I find myself not wanting to get out of bed, to go to work, or do my homework. I even lost interest in playing LOTRO or reading. My Wii has been off for 3 weeks. I just need a jolt of sunshine. I hope the record show this Sunday can bring it. Either that or the new JRR Tolkein book that comes out next Tuesday... nerd Christmas!
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Horns up.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Slayer - "South of Heaven" (Def Jam, 1988) [key tracks: South of Heaven, Ghosts of War]
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"Time melts away in this living inferno, trapped by a cause that I once understood. Blind obedience carries me through it all; do only what is expected of me. March on through the rivers of red... souls drift, they fill the air. Forced to fight behind the crooked cross."
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Okay y'all, its time for a theme. The next week's worth of posts will be under the theme "SHOCK WEEK." That is, the common theme will be shock. It won't be too hard to come up with a weeks worth considering a) I am not posting very often, b) I love metal, and c) people have a hair trigger for offense when it comes to music (they'll put up with a lot more on TV or movies than they will in song). So without further ado...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #46 - She's Your Baby by Ween
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Slayer quietly escaped the 80's as the last true thrash metal band of the big four (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax are the other 3). Thrash metal was an answer to glam metal and MTV; kids who had punk attitude and loved metal, but wanted it fast and hard. All of these bands are still recording, but of them all Slayer is the only one who stayed true to the scene. That isn't to say they haven't evolved, but one listen to this, their 5th LP, then their latest LP ("Christ Illusion") and the spirit remains. They straight hate. They hate musical trends, hate social norms, and hate organized religion. Their covers are almost always shocking... with the classic era of Slayer LPs (of which South of Heaven is one) displaying some Hieronymus Bosch-like visions of madness and horror. Always present are pentagrams, crosses askew, and blood. Slayer aims to challenge everything that "playing nice" stands for by jumping in the face of everything held dear. Themes on their songs often include Nazis, terrorism, murder, Satanism, and war. On "South of Heaven," you get the point quickly. This LP was a point of maturity for Slayer, as their previous LP ("Reign in Blood") was as fast and mean as metal can be played. It would have been impossible to top. Their answer; slow down but retain the attitude. It worked. At the time, many fans didn't care for it... but in time it stood as a brutal and enduring monument to heavy fu**ing metal. It isn't for the squeamish, but then again it isn't extravagantly grotesque (like Cannibal Corpse) or self-deceiving (like Mayhem). They also manage to hold tight to the "pentagram" scene (aren't really Satanists by the way... few metallists are) without becoming campy, operatic, or progressive. Slayer is thrash metal, and this is one of their heaviest LPs.
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Shocked? Here's something else shocking. In the record collecting business, metal records are consistently the most over priced. Why? They were under printed, not distributed very widely, poorly taken care of, and well loved still by their fans. Metal fans are the most die hard of all music fans... high pitched screams and 2 hand tapping solos that once sounded fresh in 1983 still sell in 2007. And metal heads never forget the classics. They may buy the new Trivium or Priestess LP, but they are just as likely to shell out $20 for a VG to NM (very good to near mint) condition Slayer LP. I do and I did. And if you find me a copy of "Seasons in the Abyss," I will allow you to name my firstborn. IF you don't find one for me, I will name him or her Moloch. Now go, and bring me Slayer!
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Horns up!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Talking Heads - "Speaking in Tongues" (Sire, 1983) [key tracks: Burning Down the House, Girlfriend is Better, This Must Be the Place]
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"Down in the basement, we hear the sound of machines. I'm driving in circles, I come to my senses sometimes. Why start it over? Nothing was lost, and everything's free... I don't care how impossible it seems."
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Just a refresher for those of you newer to the site: here is how the thing works. Ideally it is a 3 paragraph "wham bam thank you ma'am"... an intro (you are reading it), a record review, and a paragraph unrelated to music (the fossil of my previous blogs and journals). Between the intro and review, I will be posting in reverse order my top 50 favorite songs. I won't comment on the songs until we get closer to finishing, and the songs will rarely have anything to do with my album choice. For you nay-sayers who said you couldn't come up with such a list, maybe you were right. I finalized my list this weekend and I realized a lot of great bands were left out. I made a list... 62 bands that are either epic or important to me and they are not on the top 50 list. So with that, we play.
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #47 - Never Been Any Reason by Head East
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Ah, the Talking Heads. Smarter than you. More artistic than you. And yet their music is infinitely accessible. The biggest single of their career opens this LP, "Burning Down the House." There can;t be many of you who haven't heard this song. In MTVs early days, it played non-stop. Its been played on retro-radio, soundtracks, and a pop culture reference since its release. This album sort of marked the Talking Heads' jump into mainstream. Hard to believe that they were integral in founding American punk... when punk was a person not a genre/sound. Their sassy intelligent art rock challenged all of the conventions of pop radio, and yet made fans of even the most material Material Girl. Little did top 40 radio realize, that this music was at once giving the finger to format, and embracing the ability to create within conformity. While not my favorite Talking Heads album, it is perhaps the most cohesive. David Byrne takes on new characters for each song, all of which he would flesh out for the subsequent tour (chronicled and glorified by the Demme film "Stop Making Sense"). The album ends in one of the strangest moments of Talking Heads history... a love song. "This Must Be The Place (Native Melody)" is perhaps the most heart tugging, honest love song ever, and it just comes out of nowhere from among a track listing full of TV preachers, UFOs, singing arsonists, and social criticism. Bryne's disjointed "art-nerd" persona may have equated the Talking Heads to a cousin to Devo to some, but one glimpse at the lyrics on "This Must..." will dissolve such a notion. "Love me 'til my heart stops, love me 'til I'm dead." It's all we really want. One last comment, check out the minimalist, goofy art work. All of the Talking Heads albums lack truly memorable cover art, yet everything was very elaborate and intentional. In the words of my father, "I'll never get art."
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What is joy to you? For my friend Andrew, it's his wife (literally, her name is Joy). For me, its simple things... like rearranging my bookcases, drinking a good root beer, playing Guitar Hero, and joining an online book club. One of the best moments of my recent years was key to me keeping my sanity... I took a class at IWCC called "The Nature of Evil in Literature." The professor was oddly qualified for the job, which was a welcome surprise (it was IWCC after all). My classmates were typical community college knotheads, and I gleefully crushed every one of them every chance I had on the message boards (you perhaps can;t appreciate the level of moron that takes classes at K-Mart U, I mean IWCC). As for my discussions with the professor, I actually learned a lot about literature and myself (no small task). So when I saw that Barnes and Noble had online book clubs, and there is one currently doing Paradise Lost, I had to join. I also joined one that does a different Shakespeare play every month... I couldn't be more pleased. Now I just need to find time to read, post, and reply... Anyone else here into book clubs or discussion boards?
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Horns up!