Archive for October, 2013

Eric Andre Smells My Oniony Bag

October 31st, 2013

I have only seen a few episodes of The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim, but every time I do I like it.

 

The first time I saw Eric Andre on TV, he was a total disruption guest on Anthony Jeselnik’s show. Eric lit firecrackers under the desk, the climax of a half-hour of mindfuck television and by the end Jeselnik looked like a beaten dog. I thought, “gotta see that guy’s show.”

 

Turns out his show is a complete disaster. Random stupidity and violence. Things get broken. Jokes are attempted but don’t really get going. Hannibal Burress is in it, and I don’t know if he’s apathetic or on the verge of a diabetic coma. It’s amazing. It’s like somebody said “Let’s make a show Prophet will like”. They nailed it. I love them. There are seven writers on the show. I have no idea how that’s possible. There’s blood and broken glass and sometimes people shoot guns. There’s no reason why? Life is great.

 

Here is something Eric Andre did that I think is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on television: He introduces a band to play a musical number, and then the camera cuts to the band soundchecking. The band tunes up, they yell “check” into the microphones, they fumble around like idiots and never play a song. Roll credits.

 

Eric Andre is playing the Exit/In in Nashville on November 20th. I’m thinking about going but I’m also thinking about nothing at all.

 

Sparks In North Carolina

October 28th, 2013

I have been meaning to discuss this for a few days now but events have gotten in the way (Lou Reed’s passing). RIP Lou, in case you want to know my thoughts on the matter briefly.

 

It’s Monday so I can take some time and discuss the wonder that was Sparks’ performance at the Mountain Oasis Festival in Asheville, North Carolina. Their performance at the Diana Wortham Theatre was something I never thought I would ever get to see, on account of the group’s paucity of U.S. touring.

 

I know a lot about bands. I’m sort of known as a music geek in some circles, but I cannot tell you the last time Sparks undertook an extensive North American tour. I’m afraid I may not have born yet when it happened. There were people in the crowd that night who were pushing sixty years or more who had seen Sparks in the early to mid-70’s when they first got going. The other half of the crowd were people like me who have discovered the band in the last decade or so. Children of all ages, joy in our hearts when Russell and Ron Mael stepped on that stage.

 

Something I would like to discuss is Russell and Ron’s professionalism. This is going to be hard to explain for people who aren’t hip to music amplification and the like but I will try to simplify. . .

 

Most bands use monitors when they perform. You’ve seen them and probably not noticed them, those little speakers on the stage that are facing the musicians. Those monitors allow the musicians to hear themselves and the other people on stage. This is very critical because whether a band performs in front of 10,000 people or 500, being able to hear yourself is important. This is one reason why the Beatles stopped touring, because monitor systems hadn’t been invented yet and they had to try to hear themselves echoing off the wails of thousands of screaming teenagers night after night. It would be impossible to play songs right if you can’t hear anything. The bigger the arena, the bigger the problem it would be.

 

Some bands don’t have speakers in front of them, but carry around a wireless monitor system so they can pop in an earpiece (like the anchors on the evening news) and hear themselves fine. This is the kind of system Sparks uses on their tour, and if it doesn’t work then the artist is up the creek, having to rely on the echo from the public address speakers that the audience is using. This puts the performers at a disadvantage and compromises the performance.

 

If you’re especially concerned about your live presentation, like Sparks are, you will find this very irritating.

 

After the first song, I saw Russell give a cue to someone off stage to raise his monitor volume. I’ve seen it a million times, been to a million shows. Then he did it again after the second song and Ron looked off stage to say something to the monitor person in the wings. Then after the third song, Ron got off his podium and walked off stage and Russell followed him. They came back on and played another song and they still seemed bothered with the monitor situation. Russell tried to explain to the audience that they were having technical difficulties because they were playing a festival show instead of a regular concert, and I don’t know if most of the audience picked up on that because to that point they hadn’t heard anything that seemed askew. But I got it immediately. #humblebrag

 

Mountain Oasis had four separate acts play the Diana Wortham Theatre that day, each with their own setup and a limited amount of time to get it all straightened out. At their own shows, Sparks can get into a venue early enough to troubleshoot during soundcheck. I got there forty-five minutes before they went on and they did not have a soundcheck.

 

On the fifth song, “Academy Award Performance”, the facade cracked as Sparks’ impatience with the wireless monitors turned into full-bore frustration. Russell stood close to Ron’s piano, trying to keep in time, while singing angrily. He looked like he wanted to bite through bone (for his part, Ron had reached that two songs prior) at the monitor guy. Meanwhile my blood curdled and I went from “I can’t believe I’m seeing Sparks live” to “I can’t believe I’m about to see a Sparks on-stage meltdown.” I thought it would come any minute, that they would just give up at some point like Fiona Apple or Kings Of Leon or any of million other acts.

 

But that didn’t happen. They just. . . kept playing. They finished their performance. They played a great set. They made the night of everyone who came in to see them. They played a twenty-song set that went on for about ninety minutes and people clapped along to half the songs. Sparks didn’t bitch about the monitors, they didn’t take their frustration out on the crowd. They played like champs. Ron plays the keyboard excellently and occasionally mouthed the words to songs. Russell danced through half the songs like he wanted to go play a pick-up game at the park after the show, and displayed one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard.

 

If you hadn’t known who or what Sparks are before you stepped in and saw them perform Friday night, you’d still have to give them some respect. Just one guy playing piano and his younger brother singing and dancing. And then Ron danced a little bit near the end, which was great. They saved whatever frustrations they had with the show’s presentation for backstage. They were professionals. There is something to that.

 

I learned a lot from that performance. Sparks continues to be inspiring. I barely mentioned the songs they played.

Plus I got a set list.

Plus I got a set list.

Old People Are Great

October 27th, 2013

Old people are pretty fantastic in their own way.

 

Wanda Jackson, 76-year-old country/rockabilly/gospel singer, is pretty doggone good. She’s an inspiration and her shows are revelations. Young people rave about her, just like the kids did in the 50s and 60s.

 

Ron and Russell Mael, 68 and 65 years old respectively, make up the group Sparks. I saw them last Friday in Asheville, North Carolina and they were terrific. Ron pounds the piano with a fire and intensity matched by few. Russell has an incredible voice and romps the stage with the energy of a kid dancing in his bedroom.

 

R. Stevie Moore, an innovator in lo-fi home recording, is 61 and is touring more extensively than ever in his five-decade career. More and more, new waves of fans are finding his tsunami of music.

 

Jad Fair from Half Japanese is 59 years old. I saw him in Asheville the same day I saw Sparks. By the end of his set, he seemed to have lost twenty years off his age just by rocking so hard.

 

Maybe youth is wasted on the young after all. Yeah, there’s a big difference between 59 years old and 76 but the common thread is all of the people I listed are still giving it one-hundred. It’s inspiring. Your life’s work is your life’s work. Just because you haven’t made it by age thirty-five doesn’t mean your work is over.

Lou Reed Is Gone

October 27th, 2013

I wanted to write about my wonderful weekend in Asheville, but that will have to wait. Lou Reed has passed on.

 

 

Lou Reed, the principal singer in the Velvet Underground, a band that had profound impact on the high-I.Q., low-virtuosity stratum of alternative and underground rock around the world, has died, his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said on Sunday. He was 71.

“He died peacefully, with his loved ones around him,” Dr. Charles Miller, Mr. Reed’s liver transplant doctor, said.

Mr. Reed was in Ohio earlier this week for treatment at Cleveland Clinic, the hospital where he had liver transplant surgery, Dr. Miller said. But he decided to return to New York after the doctors could no longer treat his end-stage liver disease.

“We did everything we could,” said Dr. Miller, the director of the hospital’s Transplantation Center. “He really wanted to be at home.

New York Times website

 

I could post clips of Lou Reed’s music but luckily a lot of other people are doing that right now. “Perfect Day” is currently being used in a commercial for a video game console. The double-shot excellence of Transformer and Berlin. The fish-out-of-water arena-rock of Rock ‘n Roll Animal. The pure middle finger of Metal Machine Music. The sentimentality of Coney Island Baby. Street Hassle is the most New York album I’ve ever heard, except for nine or ten other Lou Reed albums. The speedfreak humor trip of Live: Take No Prisoners (where Lou plays “Walk On The Wild Side” for fifteen minutes while describing how he came to write the lyrics in great detail as the band vamps behind him).

 

I just described ONE DECADE of music the guy made, and I missed a few spots. There are four other decades of music that I didn’t sum up and one them includes the Velvet Underground who influenced ALMOST EVERY BAND THAT CAME AFTER THEM.

 

If you think this will be the last time I write about Lou Reed, you are sorely mistaken. Frank Zappa has been dead for twenty years and I still write about him. They both had chrome-plated giant balls to do the music they did in the time they did it. We’ve got a long time to examine the body of work that has been left behind now.

 

Okay, I’ll post a song. “Junior Dad” from Lulu, the 2011 album he made with Metallica. His last album, the final track on the album. That album has been mocked by a lot of people (including me) but I did like this track. The fact that he could pull this kind of thing out of Metallica is some sort of miracle.

 

Rethinking Daft Punk’s R.A.M.

October 16th, 2013

The public has had five months to digest Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories album. The album is regarded by many as an instant classic. Some of us know better. What is important is that it is a good album, so with the benefit of hindsight I am going to play amateur A&R for this record. Somebody should have. French bastards.

 

I remember writing in May that there were three great songs on the album: “Giorgio By Moroder”, “Touch” and. . .  I forgot the third one. I was wrong. There are two great songs on this album. Everything else is up for debate. Even the hit songs.

 

1. “Give Life Back To Music”. Isn’t there an actual old r&b group that should be singing this instead of the autotuned robot frog-men? The Spinners? The Temptations? Are the Del-Fonics still together? Any group of old black gentlemen who can sing would be an improvement.

2. “The Game Of Love”, “Within”, and “Beyond”. These are actually better than I remember but ruined again by bad French autotune. Daft Punk, you’ve used guest singers pretty much always so why stop now? The best songs on this album have guest singers.

3. “Instant Crush” (featuring Julian Casablancas). Okay, this is the exception that proves the rule. I’d rather have Daft Punk sing in their vocoder crazy robot thing than Strokes guy.

4. “Lose Yourself To Dance” and “Get Lucky” (both featuring Pharrell Williams). Both of these could be radio edits with no complaints. There’s long stretches going on with nothing going on but Pharrell singing the title of the song repeatedly. This album is seventy-four minutes long. What would radio edits make it? Seventy-one minutes? OH MY GOD, ARTISTIC COMPROMISE! SELL OUT!

5. “Motherboard”. This is the sound of Daft Punk setting money on fire. I would rather listen to a pile of money burning. At least no one sings. It’s a b-side, at best.

6. “Fragments Of Time”. The guy who’s singing on this is fine, but since this song is a joke and no one seems to realize it yet I’d have Tim Heidecker do the vocals instead. Let Todd Edwards do vocals on the rest of the album instead. That wouldn’t be so bad, actually.

7. “Doin’ It Right”. I actually have a great idea for this. You know that vocoder bit that goes through the whole song? “Doin’ it right, everybody will be dancing and be feeling it right…” and so on? What if instead of the vocoder, that bit is looped by Big Boi of OutKast? Huh? Huh? You can picture it, can’t you? Smart.

8. “Contact”. Oh yeah, I said “Contact” was the third great song on this album. It’s not. It’s just the one that sounds the most like old Daft Punk and I confused myself into thinking that was right. But it’s still pretty good. So we’ll leave it at the end.

 

All I did was kick one track off the album, shorter two others and change the vocalist on most of the others. Okay, that’s actually a bigger change than I realized.

 

Stupid Kiss. Stupid Me.

October 16th, 2013

Kiss is the Hulk Hogan of rock music.

 

Kiss and Hulk Hogan each had a few good years and took those years and rode those years like a surfer rides a wave. They had more than one peak. Kiss had a resurgence when they took the makeup off and Hulk Hogan became a bad guy by joining the New World Order (nW0).

 

In the late-90s, Kiss put their famous makeup back on and reunited their original lineup. Not long after, Hulk Hogan stopped being a villain, quit the nWo and put on his famous yellow/red tights and embraced the fans again.

 

Kiss is eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, as they have been for a long time. They may or may not get in and it doesn’t matter. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is not a very big deal in the end, neither is the WWE Hall of Fame which Hulk Hogan is an inductee.

 

We really celebrate people for stupid reasons. I can’t name any American Nobel Prize winners apart from Al Gore and Barack Obama. And yet I know the careers of Kiss and Hulk Hogan intricately. Mainly, I wanted to point out the similarities in Kiss and Hulk Hogan.

I Love Hoodrat Fights

October 14th, 2013

I love watching people fight. Real fights, not those cheap easily broken up half-assed Jerry Springer affairs. I mean real goddamn fights and real goddamn conflict between two or more people. Not UFC, not boxing, not amateur wrestling. Just normal people abandoning their civilized nature and going at it like maniacs.

 

I’ve been watching a lot of these fights on Youtube tonight. Most of them involve, for lack of a better term, “hoodrats”. Ghetto girls. Pissed-off black women. Why sugarcoat it, right? Chairs get thrown, tables get toppled over, skirts hike up over the hips, thongs get revealed. At a 24-hour fast-food joint at three in the morning. Defenses are down, people are drunk and surly. Easily made mad for unique reasons. And a fight starts like wildfire. And it’s incredible.

 

I can’t hate hoodrats. I can’t be racist against them for starting fights in a fast-food joint at three in the morning. Because I love to watch people fight. When I see people having a punch-up, that’s when my blood starting really circulating and my heart stops pumping Cherry Lime-Aid.

 

I’ll tell you a story real quick. Halloween ’05. I’m at a costume party at my friend Jake’s house. There’s about thirty people on the front porch. I’m talking to a girl in a nurse costume when I turn around to see that I am now in the middle of a Royal Rumble featuring Jake and his friends and some people who have (to put it nicely) compromised the quality of the party. There’s a Santa Claus man trying to punch Jake in the head while another guy has Jake in a clinch. I want to make a decision but I can’t because everyone is fighting and I don’t know who all is on the right side. I know that Santa Claus has got to go, but by the time I try to make a move a half-dozen other people have swooped in. It’s a giant mess. I get punched in the jaw by someone who wasn’t aiming at me. Santa Claus runs off into the night while his friend falls over the side of the porch and I hear the sick smack of someone’s fist against somebody else’s face and before long I think “I should leave before the cops come.”

 

I still look back on that and get goosebumps even though I was basically a witness. I was in the moment and being in that moment is so great even if what you’re doing is foolish and violent. I am living. I am in a fight. I’m not in a fight. The fight is happening all around me. How can I think about any of life’s mundane concerns when something like this happens?

 

Live in the fucking now. If those crazy black bitches can do it, you can too.

Will I Press The Button

October 13th, 2013

Questions from http://willyoupressthebutton.com/

My answers along with rationale as to why I would or wouldn’t press the button.

 

You gain ultimate power BUT you lose all ability to control your bowels. Nothing your powers can do can prevent this.

I press the button. I gain ultimate power. The world becomes my toilet. Mock my weak bladder and incontinence and I will shoot fire from my fingertips up your snout.

 

You get to spend the rest of your life with the person of your dreams BUT they constantly cheat on you and openly admit it once a day.

 

I don’t press the button. Maybe my dreams are stupid if the bitch is cheating on me constantly.

 

You can make extremely hilarious puns out of anything anyone says right after they say it BUT every 5 puns you make causes a random person within 100 meters to explode with confetti.

 

I press the button. For one thing, I never say anything funny in front of my family. They’re safe. Also to be able to kill someone with a good quip? That’s always been my dream!

 

Become famous all over the world BUT still not famous in your own country.

 

Also pressing the button here. What’s cooler than being Big In Japan? Big In Portugal? Uruguay? How fun would it be to be recognized by foreign tourists in my home country?

 

You become twice as smart BUT you go deaf ten minutes every hour.

 

No button pressing here. I don’t want to be smarter. Knowing things makes me sad. Also, I need to be able to hear. I sing in a band.

 

You can have sex with the someone of your dreams BUT they are a dominant shemale.

 

No button pressing here. Suppose the person of my dreams isn’t a dominant shemale. If the person of my dreams were a dominant shemale, then we’re in business. What if someone’s dream is to have sex with Terry Bradshaw? That guy is the opposite of a dominant shemale. I guess.

 

You become a God BUT you cannot eat bacon again.

 

Pressing the button. When one is a God, what need does one have for bacon? It is My gift to My children.

 

 

Satan Gave Me A Taco

October 10th, 2013

 

I used to listen to a lot of Bjork Beck. I was one of those guys. I was on board with Beck until Sea Change. I wanted a weird, wacky, somewhat funky Beck and all of a sudden this guy was crying a whole album about a bad breakup. Yeah, I was one of those guys and I’m ashamed to say it.

 

But to be fair, I had been listening to stuff like “Satan Gave Me A Taco” right up until the point Sea Change came out. “Taco” was from Stereopathetic Soulmanure, Beck’s most annoying album. Lower than low-fi acoustic tracks, field recordings with strange country folks, occasional live performances, odd bits of distorted rambling and “Taco”, the cleanest bit of the whole record. Stereopathetic Soulmanure was a disaster that dared you to get to the end, punctuated by moments of levity like “Taco”.

 

I started listening to this album again tonight and this song grabbed me for some reason. My favorite lyric in the whole song is “Well, the band got killed, so I started a solo career and I won all the awards and I drank all the beer.”

 

Let me say that again, my favorite lyric is really, “Well, the band got killed.” There aren’t enough songs where an entire band dies in the lyrics.

Poor Fiona

October 10th, 2013

It’s been a really stupid few weeks for women in music. Sinead O’Connor wrote an open letter to Miley Cyrus. Then Miley responded. Then Sinead wrote back. Then Amanda Palmer got involved for some reason. Without reading a single word of these open letters, I am siding with Miley if only because Sinead is crazy and Amanda Palmer is Amanda Palmer.

 

Then there’s the case of Fiona Apple who was heckled at a show in Oregon by someone who basically told her “hey! put on some weight! We want you to be alive in ten years!”

 

 

Whereupon Fiona got upset and told that idiot to leave and called for the house lights to come up so she could watch that person exit. And yet before they left, they had to get one more shot in: “You looked beautiful twenty years ago.” Fiona Apple finished her set with tears in her eyes.

 

Let’s just get this straight: that idiot in the crowd doesn’t care about Fiona Apple’s health or personal happiness. “We want you to be alive in ten years!” Stay alive to produce music for as long as we think we’ll be interested in hearing it. Fiona Apple is thirty-six. When she hits forty-six, is she supposed to fuck off and die then?

 

I’m not even a fan of Fiona Apple but that’s a shitty thing to say to someone: “You looked beautiful twenty years ago.” Hey, you used to be hot. What happened? Give me a break. Fiona Apple has always looked like that. Just because she’s not doing whatever she did in the “Criminal” video when she stripped down to her underwear doesn’t mean that she’s sick. You can’t beat off to her anymore? Who’s fault is that?

 

Remember when she went to the MTV awards and said “This world is bullshit”? She wasn’t wrong.