Monthly Archives: January 2012

Book Review: Choosing Death – The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore

First of all I must admit I am not a Death Metal fan. And I am not even sure what Grindcore is. The closest I get to that kind of music is Slayer…and it is a rare occasion when I feel the urge to play them. But I saw this book and thought I might enjoy reading it as I am always interested in learning the story of music, whether it is band or a genre of music. So consider this as an experiment. An experiment to see if reading about this type of music, which I knew nothing about, would capture my interest and hold it through the course of book.

I learned about ‘blast beats’ and ‘down tuning’ and how the sound of vomited vocals came to be. I learned some really ridiculous sounding band names. But the book was a lot of fun to read and it kept my attention…I even went out and bought a Napalm Death record (which I will probably play less than Slayer). Death Metal will not be my cup of tea, but this book was a good read and I suspect if you have an interest in it at all you will want to get you hands on a copy.

The author lets the major players in the underground scene give their side of the story and does not go into too much overt detail. I came away from the book with the realization that the death metal scene is the same as any other music scene. As in that when its gets big enough to give off the scent of money the major labels will come around sniffing for a quick buck, then they will bleed the scene and water it down. Corporate rock sucks. Some people in the scene burn out and some never give up. It is the endless cycle of music.

3 out of 5 stars

Song For the Rough Week Ahead…

Johnny Winter is not the guitarist he used to be. He has lived a rough life…heroin addiction followed by literally decades on methadone, two broken hips, being born legally blind…but he is a true bluesman.

Neil Young and the Horse post an EPIC jam…

Jeez, I leave my house on this beautiful Saturday here in Northern California to do a little shopping with my wife and to try to drag her into a few record stores to do some vinyl shelf digging, and after a full day I get home, turn on the computer to see that Neil Young has set his fans on fire with a simple posting on his website. With no fanfare or explanation a 37 minute video appeared…and it is obviously Neil and the Horse. Earlier this week, while at Sundance promoting his lasted concert film, Neil let it out that he was currently recording with Crazy Horse. He went on to say that they already had a album ready to go and were working on possibly another. So, when this got posted some of his rabid fans thought it was a stream of the new album…but it is not. It does seem to be a new studio jam session with Neil and Crazy Horse working through an instrumental take on the song Fuckin’ Up that morphs into a stellar version of Cortez the Killer. 37 minutes of classic rust…

I have no idea how long this will be left up on his site, so do yourself a favor and head over to neilyoung.com. Turn off your phone, tell your family to leave you be for a while, set your volume to stun and click play. Oh…and don’t spook the horse.

Wilco and Popeye together at last

Another video from the band’s excellent album The Whole Love. The animation is old school cool, hand drawn frame by frame. I was never a Popeye fan though…Bugs was the coolest.

The Newest Throbblehead: J Mascis

The folks at Aggronautix are on a roll. It has only been a short amount of time since they released their Jello Biafra throbblehead (and that was on the heals of the Mojo Nixon), but they now have another killer figure up for pre-order. This time it is J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. in all his gray haired glory. Standing 7″ tall with ‘real doll hair’ this one looks to be another winner. Limited to 1000 hand numbered pieces this one is sure to sell-out.

J Mascis Throbblehead from aggronautixI have learned my lesson after my failing to order their sold-out Mojo Nixon throbblehead and I placed my order  for J which will ship in April. If you want one I highly suggest you order one today from Aggronautix.

J Mascis throbblehead artist drawing

Song for the Rough Week Ahead…

Pills

Johnny Cash...he don't look so good.

Book Review: Satan Is Real – The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers

The Louvin Brothers, Ira and Charlie,¬† were one of the best and most loved duos in early County and Western music. Soaring harmonies, simple instrumentation and straightforward lyrics were trademarks of the ‘hillbilly’ sound of their recorded output. The brothers started out as a strictly gospel duo, but they would soon branch out to more secular music while never abandoning gospel music entirely. After joining the Grand Ole Opry and many years of recording success the brothers ended the duo act in 1963 and both brothers went on to start over as solo acts. Charlie had a relatively successful career, but Ira was killed in a car accident when a drunk driver struck his car head on just three years after the split.

Charlie died of pancreatic cancer on January 26, 2011 at the age of 83. In his later years he was seen as an elder statesman of country and western music. After little recorded output in the 80’s and 90’s his career experienced a resurgence in the 2000’s as more and more people recognized his and his brothers impact on music. He released his final album in 2010.

Satan Is Real – The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers is the title of Charlie Louvin’s memoir written in the months prior to his death. Written with novelist Benjamin Whitmer it is a delight to read. It reads with ease, in a laid back conversational tone, which sounds like you are sitting down on the back porch with an old timer as he is telling his life’s stories…and pulling no punches. The text is peppered with the F word and just enough of the trash and insight to keep the reader interested. One gets the sense that Charlie was an easy going honest man…married to the same woman for 61 years, not a tea totter nor a drunk, a hard working entertainer.

His story is mainly about two strong personalities in his life. His father and his brother. The tales of the stark reality of the hard labor on the family farm and the beatings they endured from the hands of a domineering father will have you shaking your head in misery for the boys. Charlies brother Ira was the songwriter of the group and the driving force in the lean years. But Ira had a drinking problem and when on the bottle was prone to outbursts of anger. His third wife shot him during a drunken episode of abuse…oh, she actually shot him six times with a .22 pistol. He was a big time womanizer…in short, the very sort of person his gospel songs cautioned against.

The book is a very enjoyable read. Charlie pulls little punches in the book. He has choice words for the Grand Ole Opry and modern Country music artists, has several tells about fame and the toll of the pull of alcohol and drugs (George Jones and Hank Williams) and writes about it in an easy down-home style. This book is recommended.

3.5 stars out of 5

Song For the Rough Week Ahead…

To honor Rev. Martin Luther King I offer up this short but divine recording of Mississippi John Hurt doing I’ll Fly Away. Be kind to one another…

Bob Dylan – Blind Willie McTell

Honoring Martin Scorsese with a crack band and the voice of gravel.

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