Black God – Self Titled 7″

Black God
S/T Seven Inch
No Idea Records

Do you miss Black Cross? Cuz I do. I actually bought their album Art Offensive at a Best Buy in passing because the cover art looked really awesome. It was like oxidized gold print on a brownish paper. Totally awesome. I was psyched when I got it in my car too, it was gritty and electrifying and fast as shit. I wanted to pound fist on steering wheel and I probably did. Then they kind of faded from view.

Anyway, dudes in Black Cross went on to Coliseum and Young Widows and probably like a bunch of other bands that are awesome. Black Cross is basically three dudes that used to play in Black Cross, so when No Idea announced this I got intrigued. Rob Pennington is a great vocalist to be sure, one of those pure post-punk barks that’s got just enough of a howl and yelp in it to make him sound crisp and clean. It’s a treat to hear him on the microphone once again. And as for guitarist Ryan Patterson, that guy shreds like a mighty god of guitar. He’s probably the best song writer in the post-punk world today. Disagree, go get anything by Coliseum and put it up to anything in your shitty record collection and then cry because you suck so bad.

So, if I can take an abrupt turn in narrative, this 7″ is pretty awesome, but like so many other 7″s of this ilk, from bands of this nature, I’m irked. First of all, I really want to see more Coliseum in my life. I still can’t stop thinking about that show I saw in Seattle last year. They were nothing short of brutally amazing. And while Pennington is a gruff narrator, Patterson’s awesome guitar work contains him here to the role of sidekick. Patterson is just that awesome. The other issue, as always, is I want more. “This Life” reminds me so much of Art Offensive, being the records most straightforward, almost safe track, but it also brings me back to Black Cross and showcases how dangerous Patterson can get with his guitar playing, taking left turns just as things get a bit long-winded.

Black Cross is stripped down and gritty and will feel comfortable to your ears. The songs never linger too long, but it’s surprisingly not over before you know it. The songs stick to your insides and attach themselves to you, but you will still want more punishment. The dudes in this band have been getting the job done in so many great bands for so many years. It’s almost astonishing that they could take a step back and find the sounds that first got everyone excited. I’m torn between wanting more from this super group and wanting them to add these elements to their current bands. Either way, Black God rips it up. That’s all that matters.

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Best of 2010 – Honorable Mentions

2010 was a surprisingly great year for music. It was really hard to come up with a list of top five albums this year. It’s one of those years where when I look back on it I’m not sure how well I will be able to defend my opinions. 2008 comes to mind and I’d like to say the Heathers album had more impact over the long run than Off With Their Heads. Not that the Off With Their Heads album isn’t great, but both Heathers and Pygmy Lush are much more important bands in my life and their albums still resonate with me. At the time Off With Their Heads was giving me the emotional “FUCK YOU” that I needed.

So there are some other albums that I found really great this year, many I wrote about, but I wanted to give another nod to and take a minute to explore. They are definitely bands and albums that I think are worth your time (all 20 of you) and want to make sure they are cataloged in the cosmic fabric of my stupid memory, here on the internet for anyone to see.

1. Camu Tao – King of Hearts, Def Jux.
It is fitting that Camu Tao serve as the final bookend in the Def Jux catalog, at least as long as Def Jux is in a deep coma. Camu was the guest star on so many Def Jux album and was working on his debut for years before his untimely death. This collection is a sketch book of music by an artist that was clearly a visionary. I have no doubt in my mind that were this fleshed out to the Camu’s full vision that it would be the most damaging, punishing, amazing album from 2010. King of Hearts was on its way to being a legendary debut that changed hip-hop. Sadly, we will not get that opportunity from Camu. I can only hope some young kid picks this up and takes this shit where it needs to go.

2. ONSIND- Dissatisfactions, Plan-It-X
That whole riot-folk movement seems to have ended, memories of Juno and Kimya Dawson fading from the teenage lexicon of geek cool. There is some bitter sadness you might detect from me on this topic. Perhaps this scene didn’t really get the just recognition due. But no matter, it’s still going strong and One Night Stand In North Dakota (ONSIND) make one of the most compelling “post-riot folk” music. They are amazing singers, filled with political vigor and made a really dynamic, clean sounding album. The sexual and gender politics are not surprising, but the poetic language they use to forward and express these ideas is. This is a pretty crucial bit of music for anyone that wants to learn how to write good songs.

3. Coliseum – House of Cards, Temporary Residence
Part of what I love about House of Cards is how well it presented live. The recording is fantastic, as one would expect and the songs are really strong, but Coliseum is just one of those bands that must be seen live. Unfortunately when the album that is essentially the live band’s business card can not ever capture how awesome the band is, it can easily get lost in the shuffle. This probably happened with House of Cards but it shouldn’t. It’s loud and pushing and chock full of awesome riffs and great, powerful vocals. It is flawless from start to finish.

4. Defiance, Ohio – Midwestern Minutes, No Idea
It’s hard to say really how I feel about Defiance, Ohio and Midwestern Minutes. I think it’s because they are a band I like more than I realize consciously. I really like this band. They are sincere, and honest and beautiful and politically powerful, because their lyrics and stories aren’t about vague concepts but the human condition. There is nothing abstract about Defiance, Ohio. They are truly a beautiful group that should be heard even more than they are. They also probably had the option of going the route of Against Me and making more rock oriented records, but they continue down the very difficult path of DIY punk. It is a shame that DIY equates to less professional or less authentic in our culture because Defiance, Ohio is a band I truly believe needs to be heard by more people. Not that I want to share those sweaty, crowded spaces with more people and not have those intimate shows that are totally amazing. But Defiance, Ohio are a powerful band and this is their most accessible album yet. By accessible, I mean most focus and best produced. The songs have always been this good. It’s not slick, in fact it sounds more natural and true to anything Defiance, Ohio have done previously. They are a band that are overlooked too often and having them in the Honorable Mentions category  feels like a scam on my part. But that should not detract you, this is a great record.

5. A Stick and a Stone – Opal Nightly, Exotic Fever
Perhaps one of the most exciting new artists I have heard in a long time, Elliot Harvey is a musical genius. When he told me earlier this year that he had very little formal training, I was totally shocked. Harvey makes timeless music that is inspired not so much by genres but movement in sounds. He is a capable, creative musician whose hands master many instruments. Expect great things from A Stick and A Stone. This is an artist you need to hear.

6. Jonsi – Go, XL Recordings
Some people are just too talented to contain, too creative to pigeon-hole, too intense to fully realize. Jonsi, he’s out of this world. American modern rock culture has done a decent job incorporating the lexicon of Icelandic artists. But man, I have a feeling we could do a lot better. Go is an amazing pop album, complete with Jonsi’s dreamlike vocals. I haven’t seen any of the live presentations of this album, but I am really looking forward to it, because the visuals that I have caught look amazing.

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.