Thursday, April 20, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Due to them, blogging is unlikely to occur in the next few weeks, at any rate. Or maybe not. I've been wrong before. Not that anyone would notice my absence anyway.

(but before I go, I must note that I am stupider just for having watched that South Park last night. Jeezuz.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Random *ten*

Given the mass panic, chaos, looting, and strongly-worded letters to the editor that ensued when I tried including eleven songs, we are now going back to the usual ten. It looks like there are some things humanity just isn't yet evolved enough to accept.

01. DeVotchKa, “Commerce City Sister”
Kind of good gypsy-ish thing. 7/10

02. Futurama, “My Broken Friend”
That robot’s name I never told you—you could not foresee! I think this is hilarious, but non-fans of the show may not be so taken. 8/10

03. Graylightning, “Final Fantasy 4 Phoenix Symphonic”
To my mild shame, I can’t quite figure out what actual FFIV tune this is based on. It’s okay. Very slick and professional-sounding, but I don’t love it. 6/10

04. Squeeze, “Vicky Verky”
Seriously, this may be Squeeze’s best song. Really unbelievably catchy and poignant. 10/10

05. Stan Ridgway, “Valerie Is Sleeping”
One night we walked into a field; behind the trailer park she kneeled. The moon was hanging like a mask. I lost my temper for the last time then. My life went wrong when I met Valerie. Oh yeah. 9/10

06. Gordon Lightfoot, “Old Dan’s Records”
Ha! I loved this song when I was small. And you can see why. It’s, like, good. And stuff. 8/10

07. Bit Shifter, “Hexadecimal Genome”
Even if you don’t like this retro-bleepy stuff in general, you might enjoy Bit Shifter’s latest release, which is, simply, really catchy and fun. 8/10

08. Tom Waits, “Telephone Call from Istanbul”
Never trust a man in a blue trenchcoat; never drive a car when you’re dead. This clanks along quite nicely. 8/10

09. Leonard Cohen, “Everybody Knows”
Everybody knows that you’re in trouble, everybody knows what you’ve been through, from the bloody cross on top of Calvary to the beach of Malibu. I sort of feel like this deserves a ten, but…oh, what the hell. 10/10

10. Benefit, “Warp to World 6-9”
Gawd. I have no idea where or when or why I got this. It’s an incredibly asinine Mario-themed rap about how Mario’s reason for wanting to rescue the princess is…fergawdsake, must I really spell it out? The rapper (“Benefit,” I assume) actually has pretty good flow, but I really don’t like it. 2/10


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Don't you dare boy think my Lord hath done forgotten

It's no secret: 16 Horsepower is one of my favorite bands. Their dark Appalachian old-testament fire-and-brimstone sound is like nothing else I've heard--truly, deeply potent. I am not even remotely a Christian, but what of that? I won't claim I'm entirely immune from judging art based on ideology, but I try my best to keep that stuff out and appreciate it--or not--on a purely aesthetic level. Most self-consciously Christian popular music fails because it's "Christian" first and "music" second. At its best--like, f'rinstance, in the case of 16HP--the religious experience adds to the aesthetic. But that only works because the band realizes that the most important goal in music is to make good music. If you don't have that as a foundation, nothing else is going to stick.

For a long time, I didn't even think of 16HP as an overtly Christian band. Which was kind of dumb of me, because it's pretty transparently obvious from their lyrics. Part of the reason was that when I think of contemporary Christian music, I think bad, whereas this band is clearly good, but another part is that their music is so theatrical and relentlessly dark that it's not exactly likely to convert anyone, nor to make anyone feel self-righteous about his/her faith. For this reason, I had the vague idea that it was perhaps something of an affectation. I mean, I don't mean to sound condescending or patronizing, but it's hard to believe anyone could be singing songs like 16HP's in this day and age and really mean it. I enjoy them in a totally non-ironic way, but there's a definite air of anachronism about them. Slim Cessna of Slim Cessna's Auto Club (which band, incidentally, tore the fucking roof off when I saw them in concert last week--highly recommended) frequently writes songs about God and Satan, yet identifies as an agnostic and a liberal. So might this not be a similar situation?

Nope. As it turns out, not 16HP singer/songwriter David Eugene Edmunds is pretty much unambiguously a Christian fundamentalist. As in, the Bible is the literal word of God, all other religions of false, and you are hellbound if you are not a believer. Dude. In the linked interview, he says some things about Islam that, to put the most charitable spin possible on it, could be described as "confused." Most unfortunate.

I sporadically try to avoid having litmus tests for whether or not I'll associate with people. Sporadically. But one of my most fundamental--and wholly non-negotiable--rules is that, if you believe that homoseckshualossitousness is a "sin," I don't want to know you. And if you try to soften the blow by further noting that we're all sinners, not only do I not want to know you, but I also want to punch you in the throat. So...I'm never going to be DEE's friend.

But I like the band anyway. I, who waver between mushy agnosticism and out-and-out atheism, and who is therefore beyond a shadow of a doubt hellbound in DEE's view. And whaddaya wanna bet that in that, I am broadly representative of the band's fanbase as a whole? Sifting through amazon reviews of the band's work, that seems to be the general tenor. Hardcore Christians who demand that their music reflect their faith tend to be a pretty self-righteous bunch, and, as noted above, there isn't much to feel smug about in 16HP's music. "Every man is evil yes and every man a liar/Unashamed with the wicked tongue sings in the black soul choir." No, this seems much more likely to attract an audience that enjoys the aesthetics of Old-Testament wrath rather than one that actually believes in it.

...I really have no idea where I'm going with this. I just thought it was interesting. If I had to recommend one 16HP CD, it would probably be Secret South. Some people have derided it for being too accessible, but you know what "some people" are like. "Splinters," "Burning Bush," and "Straw Foot," among others, are wonderful, and the covers, of Dylan's "Nobody 'Cept You" and the traditional spiritual "Wayfaring Stranger" are definitive. You can't go wrong with any of their stuff, though.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I have no idea.

Here is a good page I found.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Gospel of Judas Iscariot

Seriously, this is the most interesting thing in ever.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random ELEVEN!!!!!1111one1

'Cause it's time to shake things up a bit!

01. Mazedude, “Rygar on Rhodopa Mountain”
Anybody who’s ever played Rygar must surely remember the epic tune from the first section. This is a remix of that, and it’s pretty great. 8/10

02. Blood or Whiskey, “Stuck Together”
BoW is definitely a very minor force in Celtic punk. Still. I feel like a more forceful production could have improved this one (as with a lot of their stuff), but it’s not bad. 7/10

03. Johnny Dowd, “Brother Jim”
Meh. Dowd kinda lost me after The Pawnbroker’s Wife. I can see the appeal here, but it doesn’t excite me too much. 5/10

04. The Stone Roses, “All Across the Sands”
Early thing from before they really got their act together; not bad, but not notably fantastic. 5/10

05. Roxy Music, “More than This”
I don’t love Roxy Music, but this is a kind of good torch song. 7/10

06. Tom Waits, “Long Way Home”
From some soundtrack. Subdued and poignant. 8/10

07. The Clash, “London Calling”
Now get this! 10/10

08. The Velvet Underground, “European Son”
I must admit, I find the atonal cacophony strangely magnetic. 7/10

09. 16 Horsepower, “Bad Moon Rising”
As you’d expect from 16HP, this CCR cover is suitably ominous and apocalyptic. 9/10

10. Aesop Rock, “Alchemy”
I like Aesop Rock. His vocal mannerisms and stream-of-consciousness lyrics make for a very atmospheric mix. Yeah. This one is good. 8/10

11. Squeeze, “Is that Love?”
There’s no denying that Squeeze have produced some of the most infectious pop tunes around. And this is one of them. 8/10


Monday, April 03, 2006

An instructive fable

So one time there was this big oak tree. And there were all these reeds growing around it. And the oak tree kept being all like, yeah, you reeds totally suck compared to me. You're just tiny, wussy little plants, whereas I am an awesome, bigass tree. And the reeds had no choice but to sit back and take this shit, because, you know, they were plants. What were they gonna do? So anyway, this went on for a while, until one day there was a hugeass storm. And at first the tree was all like, ha ha! Blow wind blow! Nothing can me! But it turned out he was wrong, because suddenly this really strong gust of wind came and blew him right over! Whereas the reeds bent with the wind and stuff, so they didn't get uprooted. The reeds tried not to take pleasure in their erstwhile rival's downfall--just because he was an asshole, did that really mean he deserved to die?--but there was still a definite sense of schadenfreude going on. But not for long, because then lightning struck the field, and all the reeds were burned to a crunchy crisp. And a few weeks later, the whole area was paved and they put up a Burger King. You can still see it today. It's right down town, next to the Citgo station.

And the moral of the story is, don't be a plant.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I died yesterday.

No I didn't ha ha April fools.