20 Questions from Christopher Hitchens

This was recently posted on the Washington Posts web site by rationalist philosopher Susan Jacoby. I am in love with this woman by the way. She asked her readers to answer these questions. After much deliberation, this is my response.

1. What is your idea of the happiest day imaginable? Eating good food, having great sex and listening to as much music as possible, all while not worrying about money, work or responsibility.

2. What do you most fear? Losing my hearing.

3. Who are your favorite figures in history? Ho Chi Minh, Helen Kellar and Howard Zinn. Mostly though, great things are not accomplished by one singular person and human history is destructive, unimaginative, and violent

4. Who are your most detested figures in history?  This is kind of a hard question to answer. I think, as history is replete with so many conquerors, it’s hard to even fathom which are the most detested. One could make an argument for just about any political, religious or military figure through history.

5. What quality do you most dislike in others? Dishonesty, laziness, irresponsibility, the inability to take ownership.

6. What quality do you most dislike in yourself? I swear too much and I am too hot headed and emotional.

7. What personal quality do you most admire? Honesty.

8. Who are your favorite writers of fiction and/or poets? Douglas Adams, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Miranda July, Neil Smith, Jamaica Kincaid, Julia Alvarez

9. Who are your favorite visual artists? Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Mike Kelly, David LaChapelle, Robert Mapplethorp, Robert Williams, Glen E. Friedman, Annie Lebovitz

10. Your favorite composers? Hans Zimmerman, Phillip Glass

11. What word or expression do you most overuse? Fuck

12. What talent that you do not possess would you most like to possess? Drawing/Tattooing

13. What has disappointed you most about the United States in your lifetime? Since I’ve been born, the US has been in violent conflict every second of every day. This practice started before me.

14. What has disappointed you most internationally? Free Trade that undermines, undercuts and results in the death of the collective workers producing for the privileged. Iran is a fucking disaster, as is Pakistan and our continued policies in these places only escalate the issues. The aforementioned violent conflicts that have perpetuated non-stop since before I was born is repugnant.

15. What do you consider the most important scientific advance in your lifetime?  This is a difficult question. Probably the Hubble Telescope. The ability to study the universe we are a part of seems really important to me.

16. What decade do you consider the most desirable time of life? There is no time like the present.

17. Do you believe that advancing age necessarily brings special wisdom?  If applied properly, the perspective of experience can be invaluable. But just because you manage to survive like a cockroach does not mean you have wisdom. If you don’t learn from your own experiences you aren’t all that bright.

18. What books, fiction or nonfiction, have exerted the most influence on your life and thought? Why?  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy omnibus. It teaches about life, the universe, love, adventure, anxiety and everything else. That Douglas Adams is relegated to the science fiction ghetto is unfair (I don’t really like how fiction that includes science and space concepts is relegated to a sub-par catagory at all really). Also his Last Chance to See is pretty much the most important book ever as it dictates such a sad and compelling account of the stupidity of human kind.

19. If you’re a religious believer, what is your foremost doubt? I am not, and therefor this does not apply.

20. If you’re an atheist and we turn out to have been wrong, what is your idea of hell? Heaven? Hell, for many exists today on this planet, and there is nothing worse then a physical, spiritual and psychological existance that is a contsant struggle for survival. Especially at the hands of awesome commerce machines whom you are so disconnected from that you can barely comprehend them. I am thankful everyday that I live a relatively struggle free life. Heaven is something I couldn’t even imagine or comprehend. It is an existence where the aforementioned physical, spiritual and psychological needs are met for every sentient, living creature.

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On the continuing sexism of Kanye West and Hip Hop

I don’t really like to call out people I don’t know for shit I find a little fucked up. Especially when, in essence I agree with most of what they say. And I want to make it clear I am not trying to start a blogging war, gain readership or cause controversy. Simply put, I am just writing a response to something I read over at Mishka. Because that’s what writers and culture whores do. They comment and react to culture and the criticism of that culture.

Blogger  Marcus Dowling wrote the aforementioned linked piece in response to a new Kanye West song that I have not heard and have no inkling of interest to hear. He quotes Mr. West’s new song “G.O.O.D Friday” as such:

“Champagne wishes, thirty white bitches, I mean this shit is..fuckin’ ridiculous…fuckin’ ridiculous…”

Mr. Dowling makes a comparison to Kanye and boxer Jack Johnson, exploring the topic of interracial dating amongst entertainment figures since the days of Jack Johnson. He reasonably argues the change in times stating:

And I doubt Mr. West will feel any threat of persecution as he enjoys their company. As well, I’m absolutely certain an epic number of white Americans will gladly buy the album and never think twice.

While the hip hop consuming company will, most likely, blindly consume yet another over-produced track from a sexist rapper without much thought to content, I don’t think this is the case of a larger culture and a more critical eye not being needed. In fact, it could be argued at just how short sighted our culture is on race.

 America, in all it’s hip “we have a black president now world, look at how progressive we are” bullshit we spout, are a bunch of racially divided idiots. The American economic index on poverty indicates that a family of four on average can survive on $22,000 annually. It can not be coincidental that a large proportion of those living at this ridiculously low-income level are most likely non-white. There is an inherent issue of race built into the very fabric of our economic system, one that a successful Mr. West no longer is privy to suffering from. So yes, a flashy, young black man, in the company of “white bitches” as he announces with such poetic elegance, is not really the crux of a more critical eye to the average person who is trying to feed, shelter, cloth and educate his or her children.

But more clearly evidenced in this musing of the ever so talented Mr. West is the continuing use of the word “bitch” to refer to women. It comes off as increasingly racist of me to make this argument now  as Mr. West is both a Black male and  it’s a harem of white women he is referring to. I haven’t used this blog historically to touch on the topic of sexism in hip hop lyrics (I may have once in response to Common the “consciousness” rapper and Kid Cuddi and probably West before on that “Poker Face” song which reeks of sexist bullshit) much in the past. Partly because I don’t listen to a lot of shitty, mainstream hip-hop. I’ve heard the word “bitch” used to refer to women on some of the indie hip-hop albums I do own. Some of those rappers are white guys as well. There are moments when you can discern context as comentary , but some of these fuckers should be called out too. That’s my responsibility as a consumer to do that, and I admit I have mostly failed. But how Mr. Dowling can make the connection of historical context between Jack Johnson and Kanye West and not mention the historical context and connection between racism and sexism I find a little peculiar. Further, both music and sports entertainment have a historical record of excluding women and the connection between these two forms of expression and entertainment are married in their shit.

That the hip hop nation continues to call itself the new folk music, the music of the streets, the music of struggle is laughable, especially when its own hero’s continue, with no second thought, to refer to females as bitches and whores. There is nothing contextually radical about sexism in music. There is no separation in my mind if the woman’s race is specified or not. Sexism in lyrics is pretty fucking short sighted and poetically overwrought and boring. An argument could even be made, that on one level, we have “progressed” as a culture that now allows black men the same opportunity as white men to behave and express this violent ideology.

The saddest part about Mr. Dowling’s article is he’s probably correct in assuming that after Kanye’s latest tome drops, there will be a line of women, white, black and whatever else ready to pour more alcohol down his throat and worship (probably literally) at his feet. Artists have a responsibility to the culture that clings to them to not just entertain but to challenge the status quo. West has, largely, failed to do this with any success. The maintaining of said status quo is a rally of the mindless. Even the victims line up under the glory of this self focused idol. What kind of world is this where this is even acceptable?

Amazing People

Last night, I met my most awesome friend, Laura Jane Hamilton, mover and shaker of Arlington, master laugh track and all around cool dude at the Iota Nightclub to watch Cindy Lee Berryhill. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that not too long ago I ripped Beck a new one. Part of the reason I ripped that slack-jawed fucker a new one is because he stole all his tricks from people far more talented than himself. Cindy Lee Berryhill I was informed, was one of the original Anti-Folk members that also included such famous for a second luminaries as John S. Hall, Mike Doughty (this is arguable, I admit it), Hammel on Trial, Paleface and a slew of others. Beck, essentially stole everything he knew from these people as far as I am concerned and I see little reward. I don’t thing Madame Berryhill would agree, from her perspective it was probably a time to be had and she has fond memories. But I hate Beck’s music and find his personality and Elron Hubbard non-sense vomit inducing.

Bashing on Beck isn’t really the point of this post though. Cindy Lee Berryhill, aside from her brushes with the famous, almost famous, not quite so famous and non-famous, is a pretty incredible person. She ended her set with a string of stories and songs about her husband and son. Her husband suffered an undisclosed brain injury in the mid 90’s and as a result has early onset dementia. The couple also has an eight year old son. This was Berryhill’s first tour in 12 years.

Anytime, any woman takes the stage, anywhere in the United States she has to work twice as hard just to deter the audiences attention away from her looks and to her performance. We are conditioned to value women for what they look like, not what they have to offer the world. It’s hard enough for young women to take the space and indulge in these adventures that are so readily available for boys in this country. I could not help but think about this while watching Cindy Lee play her set. A mother away from her son for the first time in his life and away from a man whom she cares for deeply who is but a shell of himself. Touring is tough, and a Tuesday night in a still mostly suburban night club does not afford one with delusions of grandeur or deep pockets. It’s a humbling experience I am sure. But Cindy Lee performed with grace and beauty and it was an honest and amazing night of music.

After her set, I had the pleasure of meeting her. Laura Jane as I said, she’s a mover and shaker. She makes things happen. She is also Cindy Lee’s fan club president (to what capacity she conducts these duties I do not know) so Cindy Lee, gracious as ever gave us some of her time. We talked about music, she told stories of old friends, of people she was a fan of; I learned that Laura Jane had a crush on and met Alex Chilton. It was a pretty wild and amazing night.

Following the second set of music we were introduced to one of Cindy Lee’s tour mates, Paula Luber. On this tour, Paula was accompanying Cindy Lee on bells, percussions and vocals (along with Renatta Bratt who played the cello like no other I heard, it was fucking frighteningly amazing and dream to see someone approach their instrument with such graceful abandon). Paula told us that she just started playing drums about 18-24 months ago. She’s a mother of two children, I think teenagers, who are also musicians. She is also a medical doctor. You know, one of those people who has their shit together, is established and if you saw on paper, probably would appear perfectly boring. But one day she decided to buy herself a drum set and learn how to play drums. Now she is on a two-week tour for the first time ever, regaling us with the monotony that comes with touring,  eyes glazed over with joy. None of this came off as a mid-life crisis to me at all. It was seeing someone decided to do something and have it take them somewhere unexpected. Paula abruptly excused herself from our conversation to talk to the drummer of the other act, wanting very much to talk shop.

It is criminal that I, a jaded, white male in my 30’s was privileged to witness this evening and have the conversations that I had. Had I any inkling of this night ahead I would have called every mother and father who has lady children and forced them, probably under threat of harm or violence or harassment, to attend this show and meet these women. This moment proves that you can do anything, anytime, under even the most difficult of circumstances.

For men, boys these moments come so early in life and are so often repeated it becomes unnecessary at a certain point. But young women rarely get to see this. There was nothing glamorous about a mostly empty room on a Tuesday night, but if you tried to take away the high these women were on from their experience you probably would have found your self ont he wrong side of a terrible tongue lashing.

Dark Brooding Sexy Violence


Grinderman
Grinderman 2
Anti-

Back in 1994, I wasn’t cool. I was 17 and didn’t know shit about the world. I knew I grew up in some bored paradise, had access to some cool shit, but had a feeling there was a much more dangerous and exciting world out there. That summer, I saw something at a field in West Virginia with thousands of suburbanite white people a lot like me. Before my eyes was a skinny, heroin sheik Nick Cave and his mighty Bad Seeds creating a terrible and caustic sound parade. It was pretty fucking incredible. People don’t give Lollapaloza it’s due, but that specific year introduced so many kids to Cave and George Clinton, that it’s influence can not be understated or written off.

Let Love In came out in 1994 and it’s been one of my consistent favorites from the decade. Oddly enough it did not promote me to delve into much other Nick Cave since. Not surprising, the man had a solo career ten years in the making at that point and had been a snarling rocker for ten years previous to that. That’s a legacy even then that’s pretty dense. Since then, I have kept tabs on his career. Cave and Co are fairly prolific, mostly because they don’t do long, extensive US tours like many artists which lends time for creation. I love the music that Cave and the Seeds have made, but I am not a completest, not yet anyway.

Because of this, I skipped Grinderman in 2007. Lots of music comes out and it’s impossible, no matter how much a junky wants to, to inject all of the aural candy that’s produced and created. But three years later, Grinderman have unleashed 2 upon the world and for whatever kinetic energy produced, I gave it a listen. While the other pundits and professionals seem surprised of the energy, recalling The Birthday Party, the Pre-Bad Seeds band of Cave’s youth, I can’t comment. I’ve never heard The Birthday Party. So this call to arms of a more stripped down version of Cave’s work sort of doesn’t really do it for me. It still sounds just like a Nick Cave album to me. You could plop this sucker into any part of his career since 1994 as far as I am concerned and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. It’s sounds like Nick Cave singing, feels like songs he would and could write and is pretty much awesome as anything I have ever heard.

Yes, we’ve got some gritty bass, and Jim Sclavunos is killing the drums like a man possessed.  And sure, the guitar parts are not nearly as refined and sexy as when Blixa Bargeld was cracking out the electric bends and breaks. It’s unrefined and unencumbered sure, but the vivid memories I have of that one live set over 15 years from this very moment come blazing back. I would argue that the difference between the Bad Seeds and Grinderman is not a difference in approach but allowing the energy of creation to be sustained through the writing and recording process.

The first half of the album is a blow out of chaos and tripped out shit. “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” pretty much sticks you in the face with a left hook and then spits on you while yr realing from the sucker punch. It’s got that wild west feel you know and love. The album then de-evolves into more sonic violence with a kick to the shins in “Worm Tamer” and the sexy fuck “When My Baby Comes”.

Right in the center of the album is “What I Know,” a back porch, late night sexy ballad. A consistent kick drop stomp anchors the sunburnt crackles of guitar as Cave croons sexily over the spacious sounds. There is nothing raucous or heroic or hedonistic about this song. It’s a quiet moment that splits up the fray and maybe one of the sweetest laments Cave has ever penned, despite it’s predatory demands at the end.

The second half is gross old guy sex with “Kitchenette” where Cave attempts to lure a post-cougar house frou into his den of inquity. Yet the anxiety of her everyday life throws him off his stride and he can’t really relax and get down to give the WAG the snake. Slightly defeated, 2 winds down with  the contextually apropo, Rolling Stones-eque “Palaces of Montezuma”. The album starts off strong and roaring and settles into the sunset with two slow numbers that settles all the kicked up shit and dust nicely. Maybe it’s not a peacful resolution, but the frustration is settled none the less.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are more dark and brooding where as the “Grinderman” are more angry and violent. But really this isn’t all that surprising as depresion often gives birth to anger and the wallowing in self pity eventually manifests itself into some outward, destructive expression. Cave and co, however have decided to take it out on the world rather than internalize it like so many piss poor emo hipster shitheads that have polluted the internet and thus young, impressionable minds. Almost 40 years in the game, Cave is a master of stage and sound. His themes never really sway that far from the core, but it never gets old or boring. Grinderman is just a label, this is classic Cave music, there is no doubt about that.

The Great Fall Haul of 2010

Over my vacation holiday time I sent my self to the Pacific Northwestern city of Seattle in the state of Washington. Aside being home to my favorite couch, my best friend and shitty weather, it is also home to my favorite used CD store in the whole entire world, Everyday Music. In DC, I don’t think kids buy CD’s anymore, mostly because they can barely afford the posh condos and cocaine that seems to rule their lives (and people wonder why I sit on my fat ass all weekend and listen to music in front of my computer). So my hauls from the local shops are never that weighty. Everyday music is also now home to the $.95 scuffed CD. This is a deadly and wonderful thing for people such as myself. Also during this trip I decided to lighten the load of my buddies sell pile and made off with a few other CD’s. All in all I carried home 18 CD’s for around $45. That’s pretty awesome. Below you will find a listing of my booty as well as some anecdotes and whatever ever else. Enjoy the read.

(in no particular order)

Pearl Jam – Vs. – Sony (1993)
This is the first time I have ever owned this album believe it or not. I owned Ten when it first came out but by the time Vs.hit the streets I wasn’t a fan. I’m kinda shocked to see that this came out in 1993. The hit tracks are awesome and “Eldery Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” is a fucking great, timeless song capturing Eddie Vedder at his best. The other half of the album is forgettable. This was from my bro’s stack.

Bjork – Vespertine – Elektra (2001)
I honestly thought this was that accapella album she did and only paid $.95 for this. There is a good chance that I never listen to this album ever. I am not that big a Bjork fan and bought it for the hmmm factor of said album which this isn’t.

Butthole Surfers – Cream Corn/Rembrant Pussyhorse – Touch and Go (1986)
Capitol Records Butthole Surfers were not that great, I admit. But when I saw them in the mid-nineties (with Stone Temple Pilots opening and a one hit wonder version of the annoying Flaming Lips) it was one of the greatest shows ever. My friend Jill used to play the Buttholes all the time in high school and I never had much of a need to own it when I was young since she had it. But now I have my own copy, from the Touch and Go days. Cuz I won’t buy this new since they fucked one of the greatest record labels in the ass.

Sade – Lover’s Rock – Epic (2000)
Little known fact, I am a Sade fan. Her most recent album, not that great, though the single “Soldier of Love” is pretty dope. She has such a great, soothing voice though. Shit just calms me the fuck down. I’ve been meaning to get this album for a while. But I’ve slacked. I once bought this CD for a woman I had relations with. It totally got me laid.

V/A – Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction – MCA (1994)
I swore I used to own this, and there is a good chance I do actually own a copy of this that is tucked away in storage at the moment. This was also $.95 though, so I couldn’t pass it up. It’s also pretty much the best thing Tarantino has ever done, except for the movie of the same name.

These Arms are Snakes – Oxeneers – Jade Tree (2004)
I had never heard this band previous to buying it. It was part of my great $.95 haul and I figured that was worth a gamble. I’m listening to it now and it’s pretty good. Plus it has a really nice soft focus cover of a naked lady on it. I’m not regretting this one.

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine TVT (1989), Broken Interscope (1992), Fixed Nothing (1992), The Downward Spiral Interscope (1994)
These are the other CD’s I snagged from my bro. I have been looking for a copy of Pretty Hate Machine for a while now. It’s out of print now and some how has alluded my searches. They are a dime a dozen in Seattle. I bagged the other three CD’s for the hell of it. They are also a dime a dozen in Seattle. I never acquired previously The Downward Spiral. I remember not liking it that much. Looking at the lyric sheet, I can sort of remember why, but I figured what the hell.

Thursday – A City by the Light Divided – Island (2006)
I own all their other CD’s and when this came out I wasn’t that into. I think I mostly picked it up to be a completest. I have only listened to one song on it so far and it didn’t really grab me. Common Existence was a real improvement. But, now I can say I own this one too.

Digable Planets – Blowout Comb – Pendulum Records (1994)
I own their other album and this one is supposed to be better. I haven’t listened to it yet and have not heard the other record in a long time. Regardless, I have been looking for this for a while too. I think it’s out of print.

Rakewon – Only Built for Cuban Linx – Loud (1998)
One of my goals is to own every Wu Tang and main member, proper album no matter how good or bad it is. I don’t really have many of them. Method Man’s Tical, RZA’s Bobby Digital, GZA’s Liquid Swords and ODB’s Nigga Please as well as the sequel to this album. Pretty much I am gonna have to go to Seattle a lot more to finish this quest. This is a classic in the Wu cannon. We rocked it on the way to the race track. That’s how we roll mother fuckers!

Converge – Jane Doe – Equal Vision (2001)
Sometimes I believe the only reason Converge got big is because of the cover of this album. Not that I think that it’s a bad thing, it’s a beautiful cover. Jacob Bannon is a great visual artists, with a great imprint. I am hoping this album lives up to the live show. I own two other Converge albums. They’re okay, but not nearly as good as this band is live.

Young Widows –Settle Down City Jade Tree (2006)
I really want to see this band live. Their album on Temporary Residence is a fucking sleeper classic. I’m not really sure why these Louisville bands are relegated to the ghetto. When they are all said and done all the hipster kids are gonna be falling all over this shit. It’s truly unfair. This record felt a little uneven when I first heard it, but I am willing to give it a second chance. Let’s see what that Jade Tree money did for them (probably nothing since there probably was none).

Metallica – Kill ‘Em All – Megaforce (1983)
It’s been a really long time since I heard this record. I recently picked up Some Kind of Monster on DVD  and was listening to the part where all the dudes trying out were playing with the band and it just never sounded that good. Cliff Burton made this band and it’s sad to say that. Kill ‘Em All is a classic metal album. I can’t really forgive myself for not owning a copy of this on CD. The fact that it is over 25 years old is astounding. It’s not timeless by any means, but this album sure as hell has set the standard for so many heavy bands that followed in its wake. Also the fashion statement that they made on the inside cover should not be tread upon lightly. Lets hope it never makes a come back.

Coliseum – No Salvation Relapse (2007)
I saw this band at the Funhouse and they fucking RULED. The guitarist and singer is the brother of the guitarist and singer in Young Widows. Coliseum are more straight forward and heavier. I think their bass player should learn how to breathe fire too. It seems appropriate. Anyway, this band rips shit up. I own their latest record and it rules. I haven’t gotten to this one yet. But I am looking forward to it immensely.

Peaches – The Teaches of Peaches – Kitty- Yo (2000)
This is another album that eluded me for a very long time and now I find it for $2.50 in Seattle. What the fuck is up with that? Whatever, I am so glad I finally own this CD. I can’t believe  it’s a decade old. It’s still great and raw and both “Fuck the Pain Away” and “Set It Off” should light up dance clubs from coast to coast and around the globe. You can’t fuck with Peaches man, you just can’t. We rocked this a lot while I was in town and I’ve been kicking it pretty consistently since then as well.

I Like Music You Hate Music

Burning Love
Songs For Burning Lovers
Deranged Records

While on vacation, I had the pleasure of catching one show. I could have gone to more. I bailed on Cold Cave (not that interested) and Ted Leo (seen a million times). In lieu of indie rock hipsterdom I checked in on Coliseum at The Funhouse, which was by the Space Needle while Bumbershoot was occuring. As me and my bro emerged, The Thermals were playing. They are okay, but I was pretty stoked to see Coliseum. I’ve been a fan of Ryan Patterson since his Black Cross days and have been wanting to check out one of his bands live for quite some time. The show was fucking awesome. Lots of scum fuck dirty punks totally psyched on the show, thrashing their heads and being smelly. There was a totally hot chick with dreads and a Tragedy patch (shocker) that I fell in love with for five minutes. Coliseum ripped my fucking brains out, stomped on them, picked them off the floor and then ate them. It was fucking wild.

Opening the show was a Canadian band called Burning Love. Now, I am gonna be honest, I like them okay at the time, but I knew, as good and as intense as they were, Coliseum was gonna fuck their shit up and they did. But, I contend that they were really really good. The singer was all up in the audience and at one point jumped on the table me and my bro were sitting at and yelled in our faces, sweaty smell and all. It got me psyched on the band to say the least. They gave it their all and I loved them for it. But I was there to see Coliseum and well, they are Coliseum. Burning Love would have to wait.

By some happenstance, upon my return to my beloved Dixie, I found to my surprise that my eMusic subscription had renewed. I don’t know why or how this happened and am equally stooked that my next month is free, but it did. I decided to pursue their fumbly interface and typed in Burning Love. Not totally surprised I found their recently released Songs for Burning Lovers available for me to download. I went for it (due to bad math on my part I only was only able to download 6 of the 7 songs from Ludicra’s new album, oh I hate you eMusic and your weird pricing scheme).

When I saw first that this album was on Deranged I wasn’t all that shocked. The Canucks are releasing some good shit. We’ve talked about Young Offenders already, but they also have a new 7″ by DC’s new hero’s Give (which I want but can’t bring myself to pay 9 dollars for thanks to shipping costs so, Deranged dudes, get that shit on iTunes yo) and a great EP by the equally smelly and dirty Male Nurses. Burning Love are fucked up punk rockers in the vein of The Bronx, you know, only Canadian. But it’s hard to hold that against them because the rock and roll riffs with hoarse vocals are fucking sweet music.

Much like their tour mates Coliseum, Burning Love needs to be heard live. The record is loud as fuck, you can feel the warmth of the tubes in the guitar amps and the rumble of the bass head shines through, but the album does not compare to the fire and fury of seeing these stinky, smelly boys from the great northern tundra in person. The walls that surround their instruments are a bit confining. The singer is going balls out, but you can feel the tension in him, knowing full well he really wanted to smash the glass of the recording booth. Part of me thinks a poor recording ala Planes Mistaken for Stars Fuck With Fire, which sounded like it was recorded in a tin roof bomb shelter, might have done Songs for Burning Lovers some good. There is something to be said for getting the best, loudest, most powerful sound possible. But this album feels like maybe the boys took a shower with a garden hose before recording. It’s not what you would call polished and shiny, but the studio seems to have dampened them a bit.

I feel like I gave them a bit too much criticism here, because given the opportunity, I would definitely see these dudes again. They fucking rock the shit out of my face. If Duff McHagen hadn’t been such a pussy, Guns and Roses might have been this mighty and powerful. Sure, they would not have been the radio whores they were, but they would have made people want to fuck and fight instead of listen to that emo poet Axel Rose and wonder how Sasquatch learned how to play guitar. Burning Love aren’t interested in being loved, despite the spit shine applied in the studio. They are hell bent on total destruction of your life, face and efforts. They are very willing to get in your face and make you smell the farts and dirty floors they live in. More bands could learn a thing or two from these guys. You think you are tough shit, but you can’t compete with Burning Love.

Ranting like a ranty McRanter!

I am listening to Metallica, typing this on my iPhone, riding the bus home. I am committed to you dear readers. I need to rap about some shit in the music biz that is irking me. I won’t finish before I get home, but any way, lets just settle into it.

#1 – The new Weezer album, Hurley, it has some dude from Lost on the cover. I’ve never seen Lost and so therefor can not comment on the cultural relevancy of said artistic statement. But that’s sort of my point here. Has pop art lost it’s way that it no longer has cultural relevancy or is this a Warholian moment? I have a hard time seeing a universal, nostalgic, or shared fear with thus cover the way Warhol manipulated Cambell’s Soup or car crashes or Jackie O. Is Lost really that stiched into the cultural quilt that this reference has some type of commentary or insight to offer, or has Weezer just gotten that bland and boring? Someone fill me in, please.

#2 – The late, great Dismemberment Plan have decided to reunite for a few shows this summer. I don’t think I am going to make it. Mostly because I am planning on not living on the East Coast when that happens. But I still got excited and decided to check my local listings. I was taken aback when I saw ticket prices were set at $20. This will come off like I don’t believe that they deserve to demand that. And maybe there is some truth. But in the context of my personal history I have seen Fugazi at the nice price of $5. The D-Plan are a non-touring, non-recording entity, doing reunion shows over the course of a few weekends. Does nostalgia really dictate that price? My memories of seeing D-Plan at Fort Reno, TLA, First Unitarian, Wilson Center, that weird club in Fells Point are priceless, and no show they do now will ever, ever, ever match the feelings that I had when I saw them back then. I love that band, LOVE that band, they mean so much to me, their music such a part of my youth and the beginning of my adulthood. But my memories are priceless. But, at the same time, demand will dictate that price. Those tickets will sell out in a matter of minutes. And, they DO deserve to be compensated for their performance. I just wonder what the fabric of music distribution has done to us as consumers, to the artists. Yes, I realize it is not 1995 and you can’t tour on $5 shows anymore and expect to even break even. But that idealism in me is finding it hard to give up the ghost. I realize I am 33, but there is something about the accessibility of a $5 show that appeals to me. The D-Plan were on the verge of breaking a musical ghetto ceiling and never quite got there, no matter there was never a more deserving band. And should they still be around, touring, putting out records in a climate when your own fans steal from you, then maybe the $20 ticket wouldn’t seem so odd to me. But this is a band I saw in Fairfax, VA in a shitty coffee house when I was a teenager. It’s hard to forget about that and separate that from the narrative you have in regards to that band. If you haven’t seen the Plan live, go see them. Closer to 40 now then 20, no doubt those four men with play one of the best shows you have ever seen. They made the most inventive, passionate, sad and energetic music I have ever heard. They were a band truly there own, more then any I have ever heard. A part of me really, really, really wants to go. But I know it won’t be the same, and the distance between me and the city where I first heard those sounds will be immense, both physically and spiritually come January. You can’t go back. No matter  how much you want to, no matter how much you try.