This is a video that Maggie, the guitarist from my band, created. We were jamming in Jeff Byrd‘s living room, which was totally awesome. It’s the weekend we recorded a couple of songs up in Gilboa.
Lately, I’ve been gravitating towards more of the “heavy” music, like metal, punk, and noise rock. I blame it all on a backlash behavior: rejecting the current trend of bubble-gum lo-fi recycled 80s pop music, that music reviewers and the dying dinosaur that is the music industry, are labeling as “rock”. They obviously don’t know the difference between heavy rock and some tame quasi folk/electronic dance song.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a space in my heart for folk songs and electronic music, especially the ones that dare to take some risks. Risk? Because that’s all you got: guts and a blurring-the-line sense of humor.
Another reason I’ve been going heavy is that I feel like there’s so much to scream and be angry about. We’ve been in a sort of zombie complacency, lackadaisical mummification, “I don’t care” state. A glaring example is the 8 years of having an idiot be a representative-leader for one of the most influential countries in the world (obviously, even in America fleeing monarchy and fascism is incredibly difficult).
One can argue that heavy doesn’t go with the current times that are affecting this incredible difficulty. From the way we wear our hair to the very way we walk, this economic crisis was foreshadowed by the however the cause was ignored. Maybe life should be concerned in a shift of what and when we want to recognize the fuckery? in the American way of being : a big, loud, bully is now passe. Well maybe. We’re going green, even though going green doesn’t change the Manichean paradigm.
This world divided into compartments, this world cut in two is inhabited by two different species. The originality of the colonial context is that economic reality, inequality, and the immense difference of ways of life never come to mask human realities. When you examine at close quarters the colonial context, it is evident that what parcels out the world is to begin with the fact of belonging to or not belonging to a given race, a given species. The colonial world is a Manichean world. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 40, 41.
If what “parcels out the world is to “belong to a given race,” then in the same way that we are divided by color, we are as well divided by gender, sexual orientation, immigration… and whatever anew division we choose to distract ourselves with and call the enemy. And consequently, we’ll never understand ourselves.
Human social development will never be the foreground and continue we go on this path to perpetuate a Manichean pulse in contemporary live thought/living, never as a History left behind, never as a backward thinking.
Thus, I feel a great affinity towards yelling and fucking shit up! It’s very therapeutic. I recommend it completely; that and going up to a tree in the forest and screaming loudly. It’s good for you, try it.
Anyway, in no particular order, here’s a couple of bands helping me along the healing process. I thank them with all my heart for their insanity.
Harvey Milk‘s Life… The Best Game In Town. I was pleasantly surprised while searching for a review on the movie Milk. I discovered the metal band from Athens, Georgia. with the same name. Intrigued, I looked them up and was immediately hooked by their sound: a fusion of experimental, psychedelic, noise rock and sludge metal. Granted, I have never been one to find growling vocals appealing, but it’s different with Harvey Milk, maybe it’s the timber of purposefulness in the growl. Faves: Death Goes to the Winner, Decades, After All I’ve Done For You,…, We Destory the Family, Motown, Barnburner.
Wizardry is a five piece NYC metal band, I saw for the first time at Trash Bar, and they were very entertaining. I highly recommend seeing them live, because they know how to put on a show. With their glam rock look and theatrics, and actual smoke machine, I was really impressed with their effort to make the stage their own. But they’re not just about theatrics and stage presence, these guys can play. With intricate drumming, insane guitars, and strong vocals, Wizardry will definitely dazzle you with their magic. I can’t wait for their upcoming album.
Spylacopa. Another NYC band, that a friend of mine turned me onto and to whom I’m now forever indebted. Spylacopa was just what I needed. When I played their debut EP on my ipod, I immediately knew that it was right, because they made meh pores raise (a saying from Trinidad, meaning, I got goose-bumps). With their skilled transitions and ample ability to switch genres in a fleeting second, a testament to their progressive sound, they’re at times noise rock delivered purpose and direction. An example would be when switching from the heavy, noise with a purpose tracks to the ambient piano/keyboard instrumental track, Together We Become Forever, and the very moody Sigur Rós sounding, I Should Have Known You Would. Faves: Bloodletting, I Should Have Known You Would.
Goes Cube. A noise rock power trio from you guessed it, NYC. My band actually had the great pleasure of playing on a bill with these guys, and they are awesome. They are a punishing combo of rock, punk and metal. Goodness! I remember the first time I saw them live, they made my ears bleed. I don’t think I ever regained the hearing I lost.
Mars Volta‘s The Bedlam in Goliath because it’s just brilliant. Mars is the epitome of progressive rock, they fuse latin/african, jazz, funkadelic beats with punk experimental rock. With orchestral musical arrangements, they take prog to a heightened level that when listening, you can’t help but think this is the electric version of classical music. It’s that multi-layered and expansive. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with their previous album, Amputechture. I felt like it was way too abstract and I couldn’t grasp anything. Even though this may have been the point of the album, as an avid fan I couldn’t bear it. A buddy of mine shared the same feeling, up until he listened to Amputechture under the influence. Apparently, the album is less abstract while on drugs: everything makes more sense. It’s almost like what people said about some rock music back in the day, that it was evil and if you played the record backwards you’d hear the devil. Spooky. Anyway, The Bedlam in Goliath is a complete 360, my only criticism is that at times the repetition was a bit too much. Faves: Ilyena, Wax Simulacra, Goliath, Cavalettas, Askepios, Ouroborous, Memories.
Marnie Stern‘s This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That. Probably one of the longest titles ever. I feel like I’m embarking on a study. I’m listening to a dissertation for a sociological/cultural studies thesis, that sounds like a mixture of AC/DC, Erase Errata, and Stern’s very own powerful voice as a songwriter. And what I’ve learn in the center is that I am it and my future is it! Faves: Prime, Transformer, Shea Stadium, The Crippled Jazzer, Simon Says, Roads? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads.
Helm Alee‘s Night Terror. Helms Alee is an experimental, sludge metal, rock trio from Seattle Washington whose sound reminds me of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. With their pensive moodiness, great melodies, and hard wailing beats, mixed with at times delicate vocals, and then at others yelling, Helm Alee makes me feel like they’re preaching (in a good way). I feel like obeying them as I shake my head yes, yes, YEAH! I really hope they can visit NYC sometime soon. Faves:Honestly all of them. They capture most of the moments in my day to day.
MORE TO COME!
A couple of months ago, I met up with the other members of my band, just to hang-out and play some songs. We’ve been on a hiatus from playing out and practicing, since we’re practically broke and looking for employment and better lives (the real, on-going telenovela). This has been a really difficult year for so many, not just us. So good riddance 2008.
Anyway, we’ve been needing some sort of release for some time now, and meeting up just to play, not our set or unfinished songs, just to play loudly like we didn’t give a shit anymore, and feel the frustrations, the beast, bleed out. This release felt like the best sort of cure for the thwart that’s been illing, suffocating us for some time now.
Of course I was late on the day, which sucked, because it takes forever to set a kit that’s not your own up, especially when it’s a piece of shit kit. If anything this is a good metaphor for life: never set-up or play anybody else’s piece of shit kit.
Anyway, Maggie was fooling around on the keyboards, and Hanna on her bass. I quickly tried to set the mouse trap of a kit up. It was my worst set-up time ever: half an hour! After doing a three week residency at the Delancey earlier this year, I could set-up in like 5 minutes, 10 tops. Well, that was mostly nervous adrenaline, mixed with shots of Red Bull.
We were just messing around, spur of the moment playing, and then we started talking about this metal band that shared the studio space next door to our old studio, and how awesome we thought their musical arrangements were (lately we’ve been getting into metal). Maggie started talking about how she wanted to write a grave song, and of course that just started it all. Hanna started jokingly singing about loving a lover from the grave, while Maggie was playing on the keys, a blues progression to match Hanna’s bass and vocals. I came in with a slow blues beat, and it went straight to hell after that. We were so excited. We had to play it again, and this time record it. We were hooked on what we had made, it felt so good. It honestly felt like a drug rushing through my veins.
We couldn’t get the melody out of our heads, even after our session at the studio ended. We kept humming this sketch, it was like a nursery rhyme. We just kept singing it over and over again, all through the streets of Manhattan’s Port Authority, laughing when one of us added a scandalous line to the lyrics.
I raced home hoping Hanna had emailed us the short recording of the song. I remember I couldn’t sleep that night, and for once it was for a positive reason. I kept giggling like a kid about our night, and the song. Ha! my poor lover, she puts up with so much. Luckily, she didn’t kick me out the bed that night.
Anyway, we never had a chance to meet again before the holidays to flesh the song out, but Hanna did this incredible just keyboard version of it at home.
The name of the song is Carcass of Pleasure, our attempt at a metal song, well the lyrics are metal, but the melody is more blues, pop maybe? You decide.
After listening to Carcass, I suggest listening to Something In the Middle (see previous post) right away (on loud speakers, and dance around in front of a mirror, I do it all the time in just my underwear, and a broom as my microphone), since they sound so good together.
Enjoy, and as Yo! Majesty says, Never be afraid… Let the music set you free!
Listen to here: Carcass of Pleasure
Yup, it’s that time of year for list making and the best ofs…
But during this time of worry, wondering if my job is going to be there tomorrow, I’ve found this activity to be quasi healthy, as it perpetuates hopefulness. A promise. Something that I’m terrible at.
“Any tiny positive thing is good,” so says my lover, the Buddha. So, in an attempt to be hopeful about the future, I’ve created my list of favorite songs, and albums for 2008. Because as much as I make fun of her Buddha remarks, my lover is semi right. Reflecting on your favorite things, what makes you laugh, smile a little, that brings you joy is worth making a list of and keeping in your empty pocket, or maybe on your ipod.
In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite songs and albums, that kept me alive in 2008:
Object’s Black Swan, because these kids reek awesomeness, especially live. I saw their last show for the year this past Friday night, and they did all new stuff, with the inclusion of their unrecorded and my favorite, Disappear. Most of their new stuff is instrumental metal, a new direction (maybe?), which began as a Halloween side project. These kids are sickly talented, and I can’t wait to hear what they bring in 2009. See previous post here: Object. Listen: OFF THE RECORD
The Netherlands‘s BDF-German Hardcore, because they’re effin crazy, and their songs remind me of James Brown: some soul meets rock, meets noise possibly? My faves: Teenage Sun, BDF-German Hardcore, Warleola!, The Gogo Dancer, and The Cocain Knightz. This is a great band. I can’t wait for their insanity to explode. Listen: BDF GERMAN HARDCORE
Yo! Majesty‘s Kryptonite P***y EP and Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid. Some of the words, and phrases I associate with Yo!: Risk Takers, Unapologetic, Dynamism, Hott, Scandalous, Blasphemous… Scandalous and Blasphemous because isn’t that what makes 2008 especially special? When we think about all our leaders being caught in the act, and all these words become attached to their behavior. Like “phenomena”, as if they’ve created a new trend. I wonder sometimes what exactly is phenomenal about what they’re doing, especially when they can get away with it. These guys, however, Yo! Majesty, push the queer in funkadelic, rap, hiphop. Added to this mix and their in your face lyrics Yo! fuses Soca and Club music, making their sound completely sick. Faves: Break Bread, Kryptonite P***y, Night Riders, Hott, Grindin’ And Shakin’, Never Be Afraid.
Swati‘s Big Bang. This is probably one of the most uplifting songs I’ve listened to in awhile. It makes me feel electric from my finger-tips to my toes. I walk to work imagining that I could play guitar like it was my sword, singing the lyrics like they were a spell, ready for whatever awaits me…
Renminbi‘s The Phoenix. Renminbi, pronounced REN-MIN-BEE, is an experimental three piece, that kept changing drummers on me. My band had the opportunity to play with these guys, and they’re amazing: both as musicians and human beings. For me that’s all it takes. My faves: Lachine, Fight Song, Siren, The Shore. Listen: SIREN
Pianowire‘s The Throws, still gives me goose bumps, or as we say in Trinidad, make meh pause raise. So good. They’re a mixture of Elton John, Billy Joel and Queen. I also love Contact. These guys are coming out with an album soon. Listen: THE THROWS
Holy Fuck‘s Royal Gregory, because you couldn’t be in a much better mood after listening. It’s a great mixture of electronic, experimental and rock music. See, it’s very possible to like electronic music, once it’s done well and it’s not repetitive. Another band that I appreciate a lot, that does the same (bridging the gaps between electronic, experimental and rock) are the Battles.
Lupe Fiasco‘s The Cool is supposedly an antithesis to Miles Davis’s Birth of Cool and if I may the Cool Jazz movement, as it critiques and decontructs the current “cool” state of hip hop (a derivative of bebop jazz) which no longer challenges the status quo, discusses social issues, but again and again chooses to be distracted by the bling and pussy. Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem We Real Cool also comes to mind when listening to this album:
We Real Cool
THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.
We real cool. We
Left School. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
OBJECT is one of my favorite NYC indie rock bands. I first met these guys back in 2006, when my band was sharing a bill with them for a DJ Mojo show at Trash bar. I was immediately moved by the amount of power and noise that this duo dished out. It restored this belief I’ve had, if you’re creative and talented enough, anything is possible. But of course, this was before I realized that creativity and talent doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the money to support the potential.
Since that night in July, 2006, my not so secret crush on Object has grown into a full blown obsession, so much so that both my lover and I have become familiar fixtures at an Object show. Well, not every show, but we did catch them at Crash Mansion this past Friday night. And they have excelled further, even as they played tunes from possibly their first EP.
After a listening session of Object’s latest album, Black Swan, a good friend of mine puts it well, “[Object] reminds me of a renovated, improved Soundgarden…” Honestly it took Soundgarden four players to invent and sustain such a swell of an all encompassing sound. Yeah you can argue that it’s all production, but if you’ve been to any of Object’s shows (even at the shittiesh venues in NYC), you’d become a believer, and think that there was never, ever a need for a second guitarist. If you didn’t know better, they’ll even trick you into thinking that having a bass player was unnecessary.
The immediate response is to compare them to the White Stripes. But even as a compliment, and as much as I like the White Stripes, this comparison just means you’ve been depending too much on pop culture for answers.
It’s like averaging an A grade against an A and C, making a B grade. Yes, indeed both the White Stripes and Object have a guy playing some incredible guitar, except Eric’s vocal range and control could quiet any emo boy’s crooning, and gals playing drums, but Maria’s fierce, complicated beats, can easily be one of the best, understated, drumming (male or female) out there in both the indie and mainstream scene.
Object’s music isn’t the tame lo-fi 80s carbon-copy that currently saturates the NYC scene. While most are opting for this easy way out, Object is progressively taking on what was left off from the grunge scene of the 90s.
In Black Swan, they take on these familiar comfort zones and win. They aren’t afraid of risking it. And it shows, particularly in a new song Disappear (not yet recorded, only available live). It’s clear that Object is fully aware of the trappings that comes from mastering a sound, a voice.
Check them out at their myspace page OBJECT.