Sean T. Collins has written about comics and popular culture professionally since 2001 and on this very blog since 2003. He has written for Maxim, The Comics Journal, Stuff, Wizard, A&F Quarterly, Comic Book Resources, Giant, ToyFare, The Onion, The Comics Reporter and more. His comics
have been published by Top Shelf, Partyka, and Family Style. He blogs here and at Robot 6
(Provided that I deem them suitably fabulous, your name and message will be considered eligible for publication unless you specify otherwise.)
Review Copies Welcome
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An anthology of comics written by Sean T. Collins
Art by Matt Wiegle, Matt Rota, and Josiah Leighton
Designed by Matt Wiegle
An indie fantasy anthology
Featuring a comic by Sean T. Collins & Matt Wiegle
The Sean Collins Media Empire
Destructor Comes to Croc Town
story: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
1995 (NSFW)script: Sean T. Collins
art: Raymond Suzuhara
Pornographyscript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
It Brought Me Some Peace of Mindscript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
edit: Brett Warnock
A Real Gentle Knifescript: Sean T. Collins
art: Josiah Leighton
lyrics: "Rippin Kittin" by Golden Boy & Miss Kittin
The Real Killers Are Still Out Therescript: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
Destructor in: Prison Breakstory: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Wiegle
Cage Variations: Kitchen Sink
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
Cage Variations: 1998 High Street
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
Cage Variations: We Had No Idea
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
The Side Effects of the Cocaine
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Isaac Moylan
Cage Variations: No
script: Sean T. Collins
art: Matt Rota
The Amazing! Incredible! Uncanny Oral History of Marvel Comics
The Outbreak: An Autobiographical Horror Blog
Where the Monsters Go: A 31-Day Horrorblogging Marathon, October 2003
Blog of Blood: A Marathon Examination of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, October
The Blogslinger: Blogging Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, October-November 2007
The Things That Should Not Be: The Monumental Horror-Image and Its Relation to the Contemporary Horror Film (introduction)PDF
My 35 Favorite Horror Films of All Time (at the moment)
My David Bowie Sketchbook
The Manly Movie Mamajama
Horror and Certainty I
Horror and Certainty II
En Garde--I'll Let You Try My New Dumb Avant Garde Style, Part I
Evil for Thee, Not Me
The 7 Best Horror Movies of the Past 7 Years (give or take a few films)
Keep Horror NSFW, Part I
Meet the New Boss: The Politics of Killing, Part I
130 Things I Loved About The Sopranos
In Defense of "Torture Porn," Part I
At a Loss: Lost fandom and its discontents
I Got Dem Ol' Konfuzin' Event-Komik Blues Again, Mama
Losing My Edge (DFADDTF Comix Remix)
GusGus, the Universe, and Everything
"I'd Rather Die Than Give You Control" (or Adolf Hitler, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and Trent Reznor walk into a blog)
The 11 Most Awful Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
The 11 Most Awesome Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
11 More Awesome Songs from Geek Movie Soundtracks
The 15 Greatest Science Fiction-Based Pop/Rock/Hip-Hop Songs
My Loch Ness Adventure
The Best Comics of 2003
The Best Albums of 2003
The Best Albums of 2004
The Best Comics of 2005
The Best Comics of 2006
The Best Comics, Films, Albums, Songs, and Television Programs of 2007
The Best Comics of 2008
The Best Comics of 2009
The Best Songs of 2009
80 Great Tracks from the 1990s
Interviews with Sean
Interviews by Sean
Avatar (Cameron, 2009)
Barton Fink (Coen, 1991)
Batman Begins (Nolan, 2005)
Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Alcala/Rose, 2007)
Battlestar Galactica: "Revelations" (Rymer, 2008)
Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 (Moore et al, 2009)
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (Olmos, 2009)
Beowulf (Zemeckis, 2007)
The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963)
The Blair Witch Project (Myrick & Sanchez, 1999)
The Bourne Identity (Liman, 2002)
The Bourne Supremacy (Greengrass, 2004)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Greengrass, 2007)
Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)
Caprica: "Pilot" (Reiner, 2009)
Caprica S1 E1-6 (Moore et al, 2010)
Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)
Cigarette Burns (Carpenter, 2005)
Clash of the Titans (Leterrier, 2010)
Cloverfield (Reeves, 2008), Part I
Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
Daredevil (Johnson, 2003)
The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)
Dawn of the Dead (Snyder, 2004)
Della'morte, Dell'amore [Cemetery Man] (Soavi, 1994)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl: The Play (Eckerling & Sunde, 2010)
District 9 (Blomkamp, 2009)
Doomsday (Marshall, 2008)
Dragon Wars [D-War] (Shim, 2007)
Eastern Promises (Cronenberg, 2007)
The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
The Expendables (Stallone, 2010)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999)
Eyes Wide Shut revisited, Part I
Garden State (Braff, 2004)
Gossip Girl Seasons 1-2 (Savage, Schwartz et al, 2007-08)
Gossip Girl Season Three (Savage, Schwartz et al, 2009-2010)
Grindhouse [Planet Terror/Death Proof] (Rodriguez & Tarantino, 2007)
Heavenly Creatures (Jackson, 1994)
Hellboy (Del Toro, 2004)
Hellraiser (Barker, 1987)
A History of Violence (Cronenberg, 2005), Part I
The Host (Bong, 2006)
Hostel (Roth, 2005)
Hostel: Part II (Roth, 2007)
Hulk (Lee, 2003)
The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, 2009)
I Am Legend (Lawrence, 2007)
The Incredible Hulk (Leterrier, 2008)
Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
Inside (Maury & Bustillo, 2007)
Iron Man (Favreau, 2008)
Iron Man II (Favreau, 2010)
It (Wallace, 1990)
Jeepers Creepers (Salva, 2001)
King Kong (Jackson, 2005), Part I
Land of the Dead (Romero, 2005)
Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
Lost: the first five episodes (Abrams, Lindelof et al, 2004)
Lost Season Five (Lindelof, Cuse, Bender et al, 2009)
Lost Season Six (Lindelof, Cuse, Bender et al, 2010)
Lost Highway (Lynch, 1997)
The Lovely Bones (Jackson, 2009)
Match Point (Allen, 2006)
The Matrix Revolutions (Wachowski, 2003)
Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
The Mist (Darabont, 2007), Part I
Moon (Jones, 2009)
Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (Lussier, 2009)
The Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange #1 (various, 2010)
Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)
Pan's Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006)
Paperhouse (Rose, 1988)
Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2009)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Verbinski, 2007) Part I
Poltergeist (Hooper/Spielberg, 1982)
Quantum of Solace (Forster, 2008)
Rambo (Stallone, 2008)
[REC] (Balaguero & Plaza, 2007)
The Ring (Verbinski, 2002)
The Road (Hillcoat, 2009)
The Ruins (Smith, 2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright, 2010)
Secretary (Shainberg, 2002)
A Serious Man (Coen, 2009)
The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
Shoot 'Em Up (Davis, 2007)
Shutter Island (Scorses, 2010)
The Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991)
The Sopranos (Chase et al, 1999-2007)
Speed Racer (Wachowski, 2008)
The Stand (Garris, 1994), Part I
The Terminator (Cameron, 1984)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1991)
Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Hooper, 1974)
There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
The Thing (Carpenter, 1983)
300 (Snyder, 2007)
"Thriller" (Jackson & Landis, 1984)
28 Days Later (Boyle, 2002)
28 Weeks Later (Fresnadillo, 2007)Part I
Twilight (Hardwicke, 2008)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Slade, 2010)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Weitz, 2009)
Up in the Air (J. Reitman, 2009)
War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005)
Watchmen (Snyder, 2009) Part I
The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)
The Wire (Simon et al, 2002-2008)
Zombi 2 [Zombie] (Fulci, 1980)
Zombieland (Fleischer, 2009)
Books of Blood (Barker, 1984-85)
A Clash of Kings (Martin, 1999)
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (Howard, 2003)
The Dark Tower series (King, 1982-2004)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling, 2003)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling, 2005)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Rowling, 2007)
Hitler: A Biography (Kershaw, 2008)
It (King, 1986)
Mister B. Gone (Barker, 2007)
The Monster Show (Skal, 2001)
Portable Grindhouse (Boyreau, 2009)
The Ruins (Smith, 2006)
'Salem's Lot (King, 1975)
The Stand (King, 1990), Part I
The Terror (Simmons, 2007)
Abe Sapien: The Drowning (Mignola & Alexander, 2008)
Abstract Comics (various, 2009)
The ACME Novelty Library #18 (Ware, 2007)
The ACME Novelty Library #19 (Ware, 2008)
Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore (Moore et al, 2003)
Action Comics #870 (Johns & Frank, 2008)
The Adventures of Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls (Herge, 1975)
Afrodisiac (Rugg & Maruca, 2010)
Against Pain (Rege Jr., 2008)
Agents of Atlas #10 (Parker, Hardman, Rivoche, 2009)
The Airy Tales (Volozova, 2008)
Al Burian Goes to Hell (Burian, 1993)
Alan's War (Guibert, 2008)
Alex Robinson's Lower Regions (Robinson, 2007)
Aline and the Others (Delisle, 2006)
All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 (Miller & Lee, 2009)
All-Star Superman (Morrison & Quitely, 2008-2010)
American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar (Pekar et al, 2003)
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories (Brunetti et al, 2006)
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories Vol. 2 (Brunetti et al, 2008)
Aqua Leung Vol. 1 (Smith & Maybury, 2008)
Archaeology (McShane, 2009)
The Arrival (Tan, 2006)
Artichoke Tales (Kelso, 2010)
Asterios Polyp (Mazzucchelli, 2009)
The Aviary (Tanner, 2007)
The Awake Field (Rege Jr., 2006)
Axe Cop (Nicolle & Nicolle, 2009-2010)
Bacter-Area (Keith Jones, 2005)
Bald Knob (Hankiewicz, 2007)
Batman (Simmons, 2007)
Batman #664-669, 672-675 (Morrison et al, 2007-2008)
Batman #681 (Morrison & Daniel, 2008)
Batman and the Monster Men (Wagner, 2006)
Batman and Robin #1 (Morrison & Quitely, 2009)
Batman and Robin #9 (Morrison & Stewart, 2010)
Batman: Hush (Loeb & Lee, 2002-03)
Batman: Knightfall Part One: Broken Bat (Dixon, Moench, Aparo, Balent, Breyfogle, Nolan, 1993)
Batman R.I.P. (Morrison, Daniel, Garbett, 2010)
Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight (Cosentino, 2008)
Batman Year 100 (Pope, 2007)
Battlestack Galacti-crap (Chippendale, 2005)
The Beast Mother (Davis, 2006)
The Best American Comics 2006 (A.E. Moore, Pekar et al, 2006)
The Best of the Spirit (Eisner, 2005)
Between Four Walls/The Room (Mattotti, 2003)
Big Questions #10 (Nilsen, 2007)
Big Questions #11: Sweetness and Light (Nilsen, 2008)
Big Questions #12: A Young Crow's Guide to Hunting (Nilsen, 2009)
Big Questions #13: A House That Floats (Nilsen, 2009)
Big Questions #14: Title and Deed (Nilsen, 2010)
The Black Diamond Detective Agency (E. Campbell & Mitchell, 2007)
Black Ghost Apple Factory (Tinder, 2006)
Black Hole (Burns, 2005) Giant Magazine version
Black Hole (Burns, 2005) Savage Critics version, Part I
Blackest Night #0-2 (Johns & Reis, 2009)
Blankets (Thompson, 2003)
Blar (Weing, 2005)
Bone (Smith, 2005)
Bonus ? Comics (Huizenga, 2009)
The Book of Genesis Illustrated (Crumb, 2009)
Bottomless Bellybutton (Shaw, 2008)
Boy's Club (Furie, 2006)
Boy's Club 2 (Furie, 2008)
Boy's Club 3 (Furie, 2009)
B.P.R.D. Vol. 9: 1946 (Mignola, Dysart, Azaceta, 2008)
B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #4 (Arcudi & Snejbjerg, 2009)
Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! (Spiegelman, 2008)
Brilliantly Ham-fisted (Neely, 2008)
Burma Chronicles (Delisle, 2008)
Capacity (Ellsworth, 2008)
Captain America (Brubaker, Epting, Perkins et al, 2004-2008)
Captain America #33-34 (Brubaker & Epting, 2007-08)
Captain America: Reborn #4 (Brubaker & Hitch, 2009)
Captain Britain & MI:13 #5 (Cornell & Oliffe, 2008)
Cartoon Dialectics Vol. 1 (Kaczynski, 2007)
Chance in Hell (G. Hernandez, 2007)
Chester 5000 XYV (Fink, 2008-2009)
Chrome Fetus Comics #7 (Rickheit, 2009)
City-Hunter Magazine #1 (C.F., 2009)
Clive Barker's Seduth (Barker, Monfette, Rodriguez, Zone, 2009)
Clive Barker's The Thief of Always (Oprisko & Hernandez, 2005)
Closed Caption Comics #8 (various, 2009)
Cockbone (Simmons, 2009)
Cold Heat #1 (BJ & Santoro, 2006)
Cold Heat #2 (BJ & Santoro, 2006)
Cold Heat #4 (BJ & Santoro, 2007)
Cold Heat #5/6 (BJ & Santoro, 2009)
Cold Heat #7/8 (BJ & Santoro, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #2: The Chunky Gnars (Cornwell, 2007)
Cold Heat Special #3 (Santoro & Shaw, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #5 (Santoro & Smith, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #6 (Cornwell, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #7 (DeForge, 2009)
Cold Heat Special #8 (Santoro & Milburn, 2008)
Cold Heat Special #9 (Santoro & Milburn, 2009)
Comics Are For Idiots!: Blecky Yuckerella Vol. 3 (Ryan, 2008)
The Complete Persepolis (Satrapi, 2007)
Core of Caligula (C.F., 2008)
Crossing the Empty Quarter and Other Stories (Swain, 2009)
Cry Yourself to Sleep (Tinder, 2006)
Curio Cabinet (Brodowski, 2010)
Cyclone Bill & the Tall Tales (Dougherty, 2006)
Daredevil #103-104 (Brubaker & Lark, 2007-08)
Daredevil #110 (Brubaker, Rucka, Lark, Gaudiano, 2008)
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Miller & Varley, 2003)
Dark Reign: The List #7--Wolverine (Aaron & Ribic, 2009)
Daybreak Episode Three (Ralph, 2008)
DC Universe #0 (Morrison, Johns et al, 2008)
The Death of Superman (Jurgens et al, 1993)
Death Note Vol. 1 (Ohba & Obata, 2005)
Death Note Vol. 2 (Ohba & Obata, 2005)
Death Trap (Milburn, 2010)
Detective Comics #854-860 (Rucka & Williams III, 2009-2010)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Gloeckner, 2002)
Dirtbags, Mallchicks & Motorbikes (Kiersh, 2009)
Don't Go Where I Can't Follow (Nilsen & Weaver, 2006)
Doom Force #1 (Morrison et al, 1992)
Doomwar #1 (Maberry & Eaton, 2010)
Dr. Seuss Goes to War (Seuss/Minear, 2001)
Dragon Head Vols. 1-5 (Mochizuki, 2005-2007)
A Drifting Life (Tatsumi, 2009)
Driven by Lemons (Cotter, 2009)
Eightball #23 (Clowes, 2004)
Ex Machina Vols. 1-9 (Vaughan, Harris et al, 2005-2010)
Exit Wounds (Modan, 2007)
The Exterminators Vol. 1: Bug Brothers (Oliver & Moore, 2006)
Fallen Angel (Robel, 2006)
Fandancer (Grogan, 2010)
Fatal Faux-Pas (Gaskin, 2008)
FCHS (Delsante & Freire, 2010)
Feeble Minded Funnies/My Best Pet (Milburn/Freibert, 2009)
Fight or Run: Shadow of the Chopper (Huizenga, 2008)
Final Crisis #1 (Morrison & Jones, 2008)
Final Crisis #1-7 (Morrison, Jones, Pacheco, Rudy, Mahnke et al, 2008-2009)
Fires (Mattotti, 1991)
First Time (Sibylline et al, 2009)
Flash: Rebirth #4 (Johns & Van Sciver, 2009)
Follow Me (Moynihan, 2009)
Footnotes in Gaza (Sacco, 2009)
Forbidden Worlds #114: "A Little Fat Nothing Named Herbie!" (O'Shea [Hughes] & Whitney, 1963)
Forlorn Funnies #5 (Hornschemeier, 2004)
Forming (Moynihan, 2009-2010)
Fox Bunny Funny (Hartzell, 2007)
Funny Misshapen Body (Brown, 2009)
Galactikrap 2 (Chippendale, 2007)
Ganges #2 (Huizenga, 2008)
Ganges #3 (Huizenga, 2009)
Gangsta Rap Posse #1 (Marra, 2009)
The Gigantic Robot (Gauld, 2009)
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life (Paley & Swain, 2009)
A God Somewhere (Arcudi & Snejbjerg, 2010)
Goddess Head (Shaw, 2006)
The Goddess of War, Vol. 1 (Weinstein, 2008)
GoGo Monster (Matsumoto, 2009)
The Goon Vols. 0-2 (Powell, 2003-2004)
Green Lantern #43-51 (Johns, Mahnke, Benes, 2009-2010)
Held Sinister (Stechschulte, 2009)
Hellboy Junior (Mignola, Wray et al, 2004)
Hellboy Vol. 8: Darkness Calls (Mignola & Fegredo, 2008)
Henry & Glenn Forever (Neely et al, 2010)
High Moon Vol. 1 (Gallaher & Ellis, 2009)
Ho! (Brunetti, 2009)
How We Sleep (Davis, 2006)
I Killed Adolf Hitler (Jason, 2007)
I Live Here (Kirshner, MacKinnon, Shoebridge, Simons et al, 2008)
I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! (Hanks, Karasik, 2007)
Image United #1 (Kirkman, Liefeld et al, 2009)
The Immortal Iron Fist #12 (Brubaker, Fraction, Aja, Kano, Pulido, 2008)
The Immortal Iron Fist #21 (Swierczynski & Green, 2008)
Immortal Weapons #1 (Aaron, Swierczynski et al, 2009)
In a Land of Magic (Simmons, 2009)
In the Flesh: Stories (Shadmi, 2009)
Incanto (Santoro, 2006)
Incredible Change-Bots (Brown, 2007)
The Incredible Hercules #114-115 (Pak, Van Lente, Pham, 2008)
Inkweed (Wright, 2008)
Invincible Vols. 1-9 (Kirkman, Walker, Ottley, 2003-2008)
Invincible Iron Man #1-4 (Fraction & Larroca, 2008)
Invincible Iron Man #8 (Fraction & Larroca, 2008)
Invincible Iron Man #19 (Fraction & Larroca, 2009)
It Was the War of the Trenches (Tardi, 2010)
It's Sexy When People Know Your Name (Hannawalt, 2007)
Jessica Farm Vol. 1 (Simmons, 2008)
Jin & Jam #1 (Jo, 2009)
JLA Classified: Ultramarine Corps (Morrison & McGuinness, 2002)
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer (Katchor, 1996)
Jumbly Junkery #8-9 (Nichols, 2009-2010)
Just a Man #1 (Mitchell & White, 2009)
Justice League: The New Frontier Special (Cooke, Bone, Bullock, 2008)
Keeping Two (Crane, 2001-)
Kick-Ass #1-4 (Millar & Romita Jr., 2008)
Kid Eternity (Morrison & Fegredo, 1991)
Kill Your Boyfriend (Morrison & Bond, 1995)
King-Cat Comics and Stories #69 (Porcellino, 2008)
Kramers Ergot 4 (Harkham et al, 2003)
Kramers Ergot 5 (Harkham et al, 2004)
Kramers Ergot 6 (Harkham et al, 2006)
Kramers Ergot 7 (Harkham et al, 2008)
The Lagoon (Carre, 2008)
The Last Call Vol. 1 (Lolos, 2007)
The Last Lonely Saturday (Crane, 2000)
The Last Musketeer (Jason, 2008)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (Moore & O'Neill, 2007)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century #1: 1910 (Moore & O'Neill, 2009)
Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (Levitz, Giffen, Mahlstedt, Bruning, 1991)
Little Things (Brown, 2008)
Look Out!! Monsters #1 (Grogan, 2008)
Lose #1-2 (DeForge, 2009-2010)
Lost Kisses #9 & 10 (Mitchell, 2009)
Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 (Los Bros Hernandez, 2008)
Low Moon (Jason, 2009)
The Mage's Tower (Milburn, 2008)
Maggots (Chippendale, 2007)
The Man with the Getaway Face (Cooke, 2010)
Mattie & Dodi (Davis, 2006)
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 (Ware et al, 2004)
Mercury (Larson, 2010)
Mesmo Delivery (Grampa, 2008)
Micrographica (French, 2007)
Mister Wonderful (Clowes, 2007-2008)
Mome Vol. 4: Spring/Summer 2006 (various, 2006)
Mome Vol. 9: Fall 2007 (various, 2007)
Mome Vol. 10: Winter/Spring 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 11: Summer 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 12: Fall 2008 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 13: Winter 2009 (various, 2008)
Mome Vol. 14: Spring 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 15: Summer 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 16: Fall 2009 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 17: Winter 2010 (various, 2009)
Mome Vol. 18: Spring 2010 (various, 2010)
Mome Vol. 19: Summer 2010 (various, 2010)
Monkey & Spoon (Lia, 2004)
Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby (Nemoto, 2008)
Monsters (Dahl, 2009)
Monsters & Condiments (Wiegle, 2009)
Monstrosity Mini (Diaz, 2010)
Mother, Come Home (Hornschemeier, 2003)
The Mourning Star Vols. 1 & 2 (Strzepek, 2006 & 2009)
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (Petersen, 2008)
Mr. Cellar's Attic (Freibert, 2010)
Multiforce (Brinkman, 2009)
Multiple Warheads #1 (Graham, 2007)
My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Heatley, 2008)
The Mystery of Woolverine Woo-Bait (Coleman, 2004)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, 2006)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 4-5 (Urasawa, 2006)
Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vols. 6-18 (Urasawa, 2006-2008)
Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, 2009)
Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vols. 4 & 5 (Urasawa, 2009)
Neely Covers Comics to Give You the Creeps! (Neely, 2010)
Neighbourhood Sacrifice (Davidson, DeForge, Gill, 2009)
Never Ending Summer (Cole, 2004)
Never Learn Anything from History (Beaton, 2009)
Neverland (Kiersh, 2008)
New Avengers #44 (Bendis & Tan, 2008)
New Construction #2 (Huizenga, May, Zettwoch, 2008)
New Engineering (Yokoyama, 2007)
New Painting and Drawing (Jones, 2008)
New X-Men Vol. 6: Planet X (Morrison & Jimenez, 2004)
New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow (Morrison & Silvestri, 2004)
Nicolas (Girard, 2008)
Night Business #1 & 2 (Marra, 2008 & 2009)
Night Business #3 (Marra, 2010)
Nil: A Land Beyond Belief (Turner, 2007)
Ninja (Chippendale, 2006)
Nocturnal Conspiracies (David B., 2008)
not simple (Ono, 2010)
The Numbers of the Beasts (Cheng, 2010)
Ojingogo (Forsythe, 2008)
Olde Tales Vol. II (Milburn, 2007)
One Model Nation (Taylor, Leitch, Rugg, Porter, 2009)
Or Else #5 (Huizenga, 2008)
The Other Side #1-2 (Aaron & Stewart, 2005)
Owly Vol. 4: A Time to Be Brave (Runton, 2007)
Owly Vol. 5: Tiny Tales (Runton, 2008)
Paper Blog Update Supplemental Postcard Set Sticker Pack (Nilsen, 2009)
Paradise Kiss Vols. 1-5 (Yazawa, 2002-2004)
The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack (Gurewitch, 2009)
Peter's Muscle (DeForge, 2010)
Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days (Columbia, 2009)
Pixu I (Ba, Cloonan, Lolos, Moon, 2008)
Pizzeria Kamikaze (Keret & A. Hanuka, 2006)
Plague Hero (Adebimpe, 2009)
Planetary Book 3: Leaving the 20th Century (Ellis & Cassaday, 2005)
Planetes Vols. 1-3 (Yukimura, 2003-2004)
The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Eisner, 2005)
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vols. 1-3 (Urasawa, Nagasaki, Tezuka, 2009)
Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Vols. 1-8 (Urasawa, Nagasaki, Tezuka, 2009-2010)
Pocket Full of Rain and Other Stories (Jason, 2008)
pood #1 (various, 2010)
Powr Mastrs Vol. 1 (C.F., 2007)
Powr Mastrs Vol. 2 (C.F., 2008)
Prison Pit: Book 1 (Ryan, 2009)
Prison Pit: Book 2 (Ryan, 2010)
Real Stuff (Eichhorn et al, 2004)
Red Riding Hood Redux (Krug, 2009)
Refresh, Refresh (Novgorodoff, Ponsoldt, Pierce, 2009)
Remake (Abrams, 2009)
Reykjavik (Rehr, 2009)
Ronin (Miller, 1984)
Rumbling Chapter Two (Huizenga, 2009)
The San Francisco Panorama Comics Section (various, 2010)
Scott Pilgrim Full-Colour Odds & Ends 2008 (O'Malley, 2008)
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (O'Malley, 2007)
Scott Piglrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (O'Malley, 2009)
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (O'Malley, 2010)
Second Thoughts (Asker, 2009)
Service Industry (Bak, 2007)
Set to Sea (Weing, 2010)
Seven Soldiers of Victory Vols. 1-4 (Morrison et al, 2004)
Shenzhen (Delisle, 2008)
S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Hickman & Weaver, 2010)
Shitbeams on the Loose #2 (various, 2010)
Show Off (Burrier, 2009)
Siege (Bendis & Coipel, 2010)
Siberia (Maslov, 2008)
Skim (Tamaki & Tamaki, 2008)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest (Cotter, 2008)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #4 (Cotter, 2007)
Sleeper Car (Ellsworth, 2009)
Sloe Black (DeForge)
Slow Storm (Novgorodoff, 2008)
Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret (Kupperman, 2000)
Snake Oil #5: Wolf (Forsman, 2009)
Snow Time (Krug, 2010)
Solanin (Asano, 2008)
Soldier X #1-8 (Macan & Kordey, 2002-2003)
Speak of the Devil (G. Hernandez, 2008)
Spider-Man: Fever #1 (McCarthy, 2010)
Split Lip Vol. 1 (Costello et al, 2009)
Squadron Supreme (Gruenwald et al, 1986)
The Squirrel Machine (Rickheit, 2009)
Stay Away from Other People (Hannawalt, 2008)
Storeyville (Santoro, 2007)
Strangeways: Murder Moon (Maxwell, Garagna, Gervasio, Jok, 2008)
Studio Visit (McShane, 2010)
Stuffed! (Eichler & Bertozzi, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 1: Bighead & Friends (J. Brown, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 2: Deadly Awesome (J. Brown, 2009)
Sulk Vol. 3: The Kind of Strength That Comes from Madness (Brown, 2009)
Superman #677-680 (Robinson & Guedes, 2008)
Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 (Sadowski et al, 2009)
Sweet Tooth #1 (Lemire, 2009)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4 (Kupperman, 2008)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5 (Kupperman, 2009)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 (Kupperman, 2010)
Tales of Woodsman Pete (Carre, 2006)
Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White (Matsumoto, 2007)
Teratoid Heights (Brinkman, 2003) ADDTF version
Teratoid Heights (Brinkman, 2003) TCJ version
They Moved My Bowl (Barsotti, 2007)
Thor: Ages of Thunder (Fraction, Zircher, Evans, 2008)
Three Shadows (Pedrosa, 2008)
Tokyo Tribes Vols. 1 & 2 (Inoue, 2005)
Top 10: The Forty-Niners (Moore & Ha, 2005)
Travel (Yokoyama, 2008)
Trigger #1 (Bertino, 2010)
The Troll King (Karlsson, 2010)
Two Eyes of the Beautiful (Smith, 2010)
Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 (Millar & Pacheco, 2009)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 (Bendis & LaFuente, 2009)
Ultimate Spider-Man #131 (Bendis & Immonen, 2009)
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Way & Ba, 2008)
Uptight #3 (Crane, 2009)
Wally Gropius (Hensley, 2010)
Watchmen (Moore & Gibbons, 1987) Part I
Water Baby (R. Campbell, 2008)
Weathercraft (Woodring, 2010)
Werewolves of Montpellier (Jason, 2010)
Wednesday Comics #1 (various, 2009)
West Coast Blues (Tardi & Manchette, 2009)
Wet Moon, Book 1: Feeble Wanderings (Campbell, 2004)
Wet Moon, Book 2: Unseen Feet (Campbell, 2006)
Weird Schmeird #2 (Smith, 2010)
What Had Happened Was... (Collardey, 2009)
Where Demented Wented (Hayes, 2008)
Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey (Handford, 2007)
Whiskey Jack & Kid Coyote Meet the King of Stink (Cheng, 2009)
Wiegle for Tarzan (Wiegle, 2010)
Wilson (Clowes, 2010)
The Winter Men (Lewis & Leon, 2010)
The Witness (Hob, 2008)
Wormdye (Espey, 2008)
Worms #4 (Mitchell & Traub, 2009)
Worn Tuff Elbow (Marc Bell, 2004)
The Would-Be Bridegrooms (Cheng, 2007)
XO #5 (Mitchell & Gardner, 2009)
You Are There (Forest & Tardi, 2009)
You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man (Tyler, 2009)
Young Lions (Larmee, 2010)
Your Disease Spread Quick (Neely, 2008)
The Trouble with The Comics Journal's News Watch, Part I
KEEP COMICS EVIL
« November 2004 |
| May 2005 »
April 2005 Archives
Welcome (back) to Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, your source for free-form Collins as the fella says. Yes, I'm back.
Or I will be soon--I've got a whole bunch of pop-cultural posts to copy over from The Outbreak to here first, methinks, since as those of you who've been reading it are now probably aware, there isn't going to be much blogging of that sort going on chez Outbreak anymore. Well, not for a really long while. Getting overrun by zombies will do that.
So yes, please continue to check out The Outbreak, the world's first autobigraphical horror blog, chronicling the life of me and my friends and family during a major zombie infestation.
And stick around here for movies, music, books, television, personal stuff, plugging projects that me and my friends are working on--pretty much everything but comics news & criticism and political bloviation. So it's sort of like the inverse (converse? I was not a math person) of the way ADDTF used to be, but I'm guessing you don't need another fellow telling you what he thought of Countdown to Infinite Crisis right now, do ya?
So please bear with me and pardon our appearance as I tinker with the blogroll and various and sundry other features--we're working harder to serve you better!
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 17th, 2005:
Album that is better than I thought it was: Tyrannosaurus Hives by the Hives
Album that is better than other people think it is: Frances the Mute by the Mars Volta
Album that is better than I thought it was but still not as good as everyone else thinks it is: Elephant by the White Stripes
Album that is just as good as I think it is but better than everyone else thinks it is in the sense that I don't think anybody else has heard of it, much less heard it, much less formed an opinion about it: Pursuit of Happiness by Weekend Players
Ditto: Attention by Gus Gus
Album that almost makes inviting Ron Wood to join your band seem like a good idea (almost): Some Girls by the Rolling Stones
Album that for some reason has I think the lowest Amazon.com sales rank of all the Brian Jonestown Massacre albums but is actually enthralling and comparatively accessible: Bringing It All Back Home...Again by the Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album that it was probably a good idea for Capitol Records to put the kibosh on in favor of the songs that eventually became The Dandy Warhols Come Down: The Black Album by the Dandy Warhols
Album that it is probably not a good idea for Sony Records to put the kibosh on in favor of, well, apparently nothing: Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
Album that, while entertaining, I think illustrates the artistic limitations of slavishly faithful recreations of the sounds of the early-to-mid-'80s: She's In Control by Chromeo
Album that would be the band's third five-starrer in the music magazine in my head if it weren't for the fact that its emotional high point, "Walk in Fire," is distractingly similar to said album's predecessor's emotional lead single, "There Goes the Fear," so now it's "just" a four-starrer: Some Cities by Doves
Album that everybody should listen to at least once today: Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy
Another album that everybody should listen to at least once today: Zooropa by U2
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 20th, 2005:
For some reason I didn't know that Pitchfork existed until last Friday or something like that. Actually, that's not entirely true: I think I'd heard of it, but assumed that with a name like that it was some sort of Papa Roach/Damageplan fan site. Nu-metal, like Communism, can still do a lot of damage in its lingering death throes. Call it Snow Patrol Syndrome. (It's amazing how much damage a poorly selected moniker can do. I mean, I've got to assume I'm not the only person who drew that conclusion about the site, since let's face it, any thought that occurs to anyone has occurred to somebody else, and probably lots of sombodies else.)
Anyway, I just got done browsing through a review or twenty on Pitchfork, and it was time well spent. In many cases they were the type of reviews that are erudite, well-informed, devoid of point-scoring and trainspotting, intelligently argued, impeccably sourced, and still wrong (kinda like a superhero comic review by Tim O'Neil), but (as is the case with Tim, who of course is one of the four or five best writers in the ol' comics blogosphere) all that other stuff is nothing to be sneezed at, so I enjoyed them a lot. (Case in point: they kinda pan LCD Soundsytem's record, but have the good sense to a) note that the Eno homage "Great Release" is the best thing on the album; b) point out that "Never as Tired as When I'm Waking Up" owes as much to Floyd as it does to the Beatles, which everyone else seems to have missed. (I would have pegged it to Meddle rather than Dark Side, but the point still stands.))
All this is my roundabout way of introducing this thought: Once you've named your band Vietnam, you might as well call it a day, no? I mean, you're never gonna come up with anything that brilliant ever again.
God, I wish I think of something half as awesome as naming a band Vietnam. (Maybe my "if you've thought of it, thousands of other people have too" rule is bogus. I'm reasonably sure this is the only band called Vietnam, and that's a goddamn astounding idea.)
Postscript: Finding out that Chromeo was spawned by Vice Magazine explains an awful lot.
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 21st, 2005:
As the type of person who, after the catastrophic failure of director Rob Bowman's Elektra, thought to himself, "Dammit! Now Reign of Fire will never get the respect it deserves!", I couldn't have been happier with Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, which aired earlier tonight on Animal Planet. It's the latest "what if?" documentary Animal Planet has produced, this time breaking down how dragons "really" would have looked and acted had they actually existed. The special was remarkably well thought out, using the unusually uniform appearance of dragons in the mythologies of disparate cultures to create an unnervingly and delightfully plausible natural history for the creatures. It was all done in a mockumentary-style tone that, aside from one straightforward disclaimer at the beginning of the show and several implicit ones later on (after each commercial break), dropped the "what if?" tone and treated it like straight science. Apparently this was too much for some critics to process--read this, oh, I guess let's call it a review, why not? from Linda Stasi at the NY Post; you can practically smell the wood burning as Stasi tries to plow through her own confusion, and hopefully the odor will distract you from how embarrassing it is that she expects you to be just as uncomprehending--but for the rest of us it was a fascinating way to while away 90 minutes on a Sunday evening. (Less than 90 minutes with the magic of TiVo at your command, of course.) The damn thing was even narrated by Patrick Stewart. About the only false note came in the appearance of some of the later dragon species, who had forelegs, hind legs, and wings, rather than the far more feasible hind legs/wings combo; it just kind of jumped out at me all of a sudden that this evolutionary quirk, which has no analogue that I can think of in all of non-insect biology (indeed, the show's website resorts to fruit flies for justification), had gone completely unexplained and unremarked upon by the special, in a clear sacrifice of plausibility for artistic license. But other than that, all the questions you'd want answered (how does it fly? how does it breathe fire? how long did they last?) are answered in spectacular fashion, as are some you didn't think to ask (they manage to account for variations in the descriptions of dragons between different cultures, and even link the creatures to sea serpent myths). If you are a nerd, and I'm assuming you are, this is great TV.
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 24th, 2005:
I finally saw the third film in the Matrix trilogy, and I actually liked it. But I liked Reloaded too, so maybe that’s not surprising; for some reason, though, I just wasn’t really interested in seeing Film Three when it came out. Now that I’ve seen it I think it has a lot to recommend it. The big battle for Zion was something I was extremely skeptical about—when you have access to a world where characters can fly and rewrite reality, I reasoned, why would I want to watch a bunch of people in Sigourney Weaver’s loading rig from Aliens shoot bullets at robots with tentacles?—but I was wowed by it from beginning till end. The aerial fight between Neo and Smith was terrific as well—Bryan Singer’s Superman film has a tough act to follow. And that subway scene at the beginning was just lovely.
That being said, this was a deeply flawed movie. I don’t know that the Wachowski Brothers could ever have lived up to the promise of the first Matrix, which after all was so well-received because of its many mysteries. Explain them away and the project loses much of its appeal. The first film was also so much of its moment, and benefited so greatly from the fact that it was introducing so many cinematic images and ideas to American audiences that hadn’t seen them before, that the sequels were almost bound to disappoint, unless the Wachowskis were the Beatles of action cinema and could reinvent the wheel with each new movie. They weren't and couldn't. But they could have made this one great. Wachowskis, if you’re reading, here’s how you could have done it.
1. Remember who your main characters are. Hint: They are Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus. (Okay, that was more than a hint.) It’s understandable that you need to expand your cast beyond this core of three, but you could have done this with a lot more aplomb by a) not being so profligate with the crew members from Film One (what happened to that guy Tank, anyway? I thought he survived that movie.); b) spending Film Two building up—and I mean really building them up, a la Eowyn, Theoden, and Faramir in The Two Towers—a secondary core cast centered on Link, his wife Zee, and possibly Naiobi, rather than wasting time with stock sci-fi clichés-with-feet like the Council (I’ve never seen Babylon 5, but I imagine it as full of these kinds of robe-wearing, stentorian hair disasters), the tough-as-nails commander(s!), and the rookie with a lot to prove who’s gonna show ’em what he’s made of in the end. We don’t care about these people.
2. With #1 in mind, make sure to show your three main characters doing something together at some point in this, the climactic chapter of their story. No, having Trinity, Morpheus and some cipher named Seraph kick ass in a lobby together is not good enough. Neither is having all three characters together, but in the midst of a sprawling crew of other ciphers, some of whom are inexplicably being given equal narrative weight, and where all they’re doing is debating who gets to take what ship where.
3. If you feel like you need to separate the three of them, fine, but make sure what they’re doing is equally interesting. Return of the Jedi managed this with its tripartite climax—Luke dueling with Vader and the Emperor on the Death Star, Lando piloting the Millennium Falcon in order to blow the Death Star up, and Han, Leia, Chewie and the droids helping take out the Death Star’s shield. You had Morpheus co-pilot a ship—and badly, I might add—then sort of take shelter while other people fought, while Neo and Trinity drove a ship and then got into what basically amounted to a car accident. The bulk of the climax involved none of them.
4. If you’re going to make two of your main characters into a couple whose love essentially decides the fate of humanity, try to cast actors who have even a little romantic chemistry. This way, you won’t have to have all the other characters continually say to them, “I see that you are in love.” The audience wouldn’t need this pointed out to them—they’d know.
5. If one of your main characters has to tragically die, don’t have her do it after a glorified car chase that ends up reading like a less interesting, less-at-stake re-run of the long car chase that other, less central characters just got finished having. Don’t have her die from crashing her ship into a wall. Don’t force her lover to emote with a blindfold on. Don’t shoot the whole scene in nearly identical fashion to the similar scene from the much better received first film in the trilogy.
6. When you are shooting the final scene in your epic trilogy, don’t you think one of your main characters should be in it? At least one?
7. Don’t count on the audience caring about the Oracle. We don’t—the Oracle is a concept, not a character. This goes double because—through no fault of your own, we know—you had to switch the actress playing the oracle two-thirds of the way through your trilogy. We weren’t particularly attached to her as a character before, and now she’s a whole new person, literally. The explanation for why she’s changed wasn’t particularly good anyway.
8. The second film in your trilogy introduced a lot of new and interesting characters and concepts—the Merovingian, Persephone, the whole idea of rogue programs, the Architect, Agent Smith taking over an actual real-world human, et cetera. It would be nice if these ideas actually had anything to do with how the trilogy is concluded. They didn’t.
9. In particular, the Merovingian and Persephone are captivating characters who had exactly nothing to do in this film, and disappeared with little fanfare after 20 minutes. Don’t do that next time around. Same deal with the Trainman, who you introduced in this film and therefore got even less worthwhile screentime than his boss and his boss’s wife. Same deal with the Indian program and his “family.”
9. The only innovation from Film Two that did drive the plotline of Film Three was Smith’s ability to hack into other avatars and programs and duplicate himself. But if you’re setting this up as a threat to the existence of the Matrix and everyone and everything in it, it might help to show him taking the Matrix over, rather than abandoning the Matrix for about an hour, then coming back to show Smith’s victory as a fait accompli.
10. Here’s an idea to help resolve #8, #9, and #10—we can assume that Smith is able to conquer human avatars in the Matrix without much problem, but what about rogues like the Merovingian and his crew? How about we show them fighting, and Smith defeating them, which we assume happened off-camera anyway? That way we’d feel like we’d spent so much time building up those characters in Film Two for a reason. Plus, I think it would just be plain cool.
11. The climax of Film Two involved Neo meeting the Architect, a sort of “master program” who ran the Matrix and put a sort of philosophical smackdown on Neo’s attempts to undermine it. So maybe it would be a good idea to have the Architect have something, anything to do with the climax of Film Three? In nerd terms, he is your “Big Bad,” along with Smith. If you want to have some three-way conflict, that’s fine, but a climax that’s all Neo vs. Smith doesn’t convey that.
12. Nor does the big talking Wizard of Oz head in Machine City.
13. Since this film is called The Matrix Revolutions, perhaps you should a) spend more time in the actual Matrix; b) show the result of the Revolution therein. I’m sure you’ll argue you were going for something else philosophically, but to not show Neo either a) awakening avatars within the Matrix to the actual nature of their world, or b) showing the people in the big energy pods being freed is a borderline criminal missing of what the films’ point should have been.
14. Maybe someone else should handle the dialogue writing next time around. (“Are you from the Matrix?” “Yes. No. I mean, I was.”; “You did it.” “I didn’t do it—we did.”) Also, no councils, rookies, tough-as-nails commanders or cheering crowds with arms held aloft next time. And try to get your Australian actors to work on their American accents a little more. Finally, have Fishburne lose weight—his paunchiness undercuts his character’s authority and coolness, to say nothing of being out of place in a world where humans subsist on synthesized protein gruel.
15. In many ways you are victims of your own success. Film One was as mind-blowing as it was at least in part because American audiences had never seen wire-fu before; now it’s everywhere. (Same with bullet-time.) Moreover, the vinyl trenchcoats and black shades aesthetic defined cool for its brief moment, but in a post-Strokes world, stuff that pristine and “signifying” looks dated. Actually, Kill Bill outdid you in all these regards, with terrific fight choreography, a great sense of the plasticity of time that nevertheless did not rely on digital tricks, and a dusty, retrofit denim-and-leather style. Many commentators also posit that the dot-com boom helped make the first film’s look, and plot, make more sense. I don’t have advice for you here, but these are things worth considering.
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 7th, 2005:
All Killer, No Filler
I think we can all rest assured that there's a particularly uncomfortable section of Hell reserved for Sum 41 because of how they ruined that phrase for the rest of us. And because of a wide array of other reasons.
"All killer, no filler" is a good way to describe Daft Punk's new record Human After All, as it turns out. I found this somewhat surprising based on the nature of their last album, Discovery. Now, as anyone who has listened to that album can tell you, the first four songs ("One More Time," "Aerodynamic," "Digital Love," "Harder Better Faster Stronger") comprise pretty much the best first-four-song sequence on any album whose first four songs are not called "Black Dog," "Rock and Roll," "The Battle of Evermore" and "Stairway to Heaven"--I defy you to find me a better suite of hands-in-the-air-there's-a-party-over-there music on God's Gray Earth. Unfortunately, the rest of Discovery can't help but feel like a let-down by way of comparison. Out of the entire 14-song platter, I think around nine are worth listening to. (The others being "Something About Us," "Voyager," "Veridis Quo," (especially) "Face to Face," and, depending on what mood you're in, either "Nightvision," "High Life," or "Short Circuit.") And the five (or so) clunkers are real killers, man. That closing song, "Too Long"? Talk about truth in advertising!
So the first thing you notice is that Human After All is pretty much wall-to-wall rockin’. Seriously, you throw this bad boy on in your car and your head will nod from beginning to end, to the point where about halfway through the album you’ll actually think to yourself “Jeez, am I still bobbing my head?” The second thing you’ll notice is that the house feel of Discovery and its direct antecedent, the classic single “Music Sounds Better with You” by DP side project Stardust, is gone, vocals by Romanthony and all. We’re back quite solidly in the electro-funk vein first tapped in DP’s debut album Homework. But these folks are so good at it that it doesn’t feel like a step backward at all. It feels like they took some time off to sharpen their weapons, then came back and killed with them, is what it feels like.
I’m serious. Human After All’s title track is a relentless funk monster, proof that in a world of “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” Daft Punk themselves can still hang. When the vocoded vocals kicked in I actually exclaimed, out loud, “Wow, this is pretty good!” Ditto the next two tracks, the grindingly glitter of “The Prime Time of Your Life” and the eye-of-the-tiger techno of “Robot Rock.” DP’s ability to wring mightily entertaining music out of the most shit-stupid early-‘80s pop-rock-dance clichés—vocal distortion, guitars that are overproduced by an order of magnitude, the sudden halt of all music at once--is awe inspiring. Like any good post-1985 superhero comic you’d care to name, they make you marvel simultaneously at both the sheer visceral joy of a well-executed trope and the self-awareness and cleverness with which they utilize them.
And as I said, the awesomeness pretty much does. not. stop. Tracks like “The Brainwasher” will appeal to the Chem Bros/Meat Beat fans out there; you can pretty much guess how “Television Rules the Nation” will sound based on the title alone and gauge your interest in the track from there (me: yes please!); the chipmunk-esque litany of can-do I.T. department tasks “Technologic” has probably already been used as background music in a runway show, and if not, I will bet you a thousand American dollars that it will be. But the album’s most intriguing song is “Make Love,” a subdued and eerie number that fades in, eventually fades out, and seems tailor-made to be used over the end credits of a Sopranos episode next season.
All in all this is a fabulous album, and I really wish it wasn’t because now I’m going to have to go buy the damn thing rather than just rely on the bootleg mp3s I got, which is what I was gonna do if it was only so-so. But I need that much rock, people.
*postscript: Okay, so there’s one throwaway found-noise track that lasts for a minute in the middle of the album. It’s short, you’ll get over it.
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 1st, 2005:
Courtesy of Eve and Dave, here's a list of ten things I've done that you probably haven't.
1. Visited Loch Ness
2. Won an award for Best Senior Essay in the Yale Film Studies department
3. Married my high-school sweetheart
4. Played Brad and emcee'd in the floor show of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
5. Had my writing called "so fucking smart" by Clive Barker
6. Attended, and helped to host, several Naked Parties
7. Burned my junior year religion textbooks
8. Gotten both a Star Wars and a Lord of the Rings tattoo (Rebel Alliance insignia on right bicep; emblem of the Kings of Gondor on left bicep)
9. Had "Happy Birthday" sung to me by the Dandy Warhols
10. Worn a "FRANKIE SAY RELAX" t-shirt on my honeymoon
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 2nd, 2005:
During the (surprisingly, and yet unsurprisingly, brief) period I wasn't actively blogging, I ended up writing the occasional lengthy music-review missive to the members of the file-sharing listserv to which I belong. This meant that these people got personally subjected to my year-end music wrap-up. The bonus, though, was that they could actually download my favorite albums of '04, because I uploaded them to our file-sharing server. Can't do that for you all, but in my continuing quest to make a liar out of myself when I said this wasn't going to be a music blog, here's my favorites from the year that was. (I even made specific song recommendations—they were intended to help folks make downloading selections, but I figure they might be helpful for you-all too.)
SEAN'S NOW-BELATED TOP 15 RECORDS OF 2004 THAT HE ACTUALLY HEARD
HONORABLE MENTION. THE BRAVERY—Okay, this barely counts, because this NYC-based band doesn't actually have an album out yet. But I saw a video of theirs on Fuse's "The Dive," which as readers of this young blog well know is one of the only good music-video show in North America at this point, and loved it, so I downloaded bunch of songs of theirs I downloaded off "the online," as my mom likes to say. This is a very, very hipster-friendly band, and they sound like a melange of the Hives, the Faint, and the Dandy Warhols. So maybe they're not the most original-sounding band in the world, considering that each of those bands is itself a melange of other bands, but still, if you're like me, that description alone gives you a glass-cutting nipple erection. Everyone else is simply advised to listen to the first twenty seconds of both "Fearless" and "Unconditional," and I defy you not to dig the hell out of this.
15. DAVID GUETTA: JUST A LITTLE MORE LOVE—This is probably the camp-est record on this list, and since this list contains albums by Rufus Wainwright, the Faint, Scissor Sisters and Kylie freaking Minogue, that’s really saying something. This is just straight up hands-in-the-air divas-and-vocoders Ibiza-type house, but sort of clever and self-aware, with some electro flourishes and a great riff on Bowie called “Just for One Day.” I recommend the first two tracks: the title song and “Love Don’t Let Me Go,” which may be the gayest songs ever recorded. (Yes, gayer than “I Need This Job” from A Chorus Line.)
14. !!!: LOUDEN UP NOW—Very solid and rockin’ discopunk for those of us who wore out our Rapture records. Actually goes more for the Talking Heads-type feel than the Gang of Four one adopted by other bands of this ilk. Lots of cussin’, too, which is always a plus. Recommended: “Pardon My Freedom,” “Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard.”
13. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT: WANT TWO—This is the sequel to last year’s awe-inspiring Want One, which is the album Radiohead might have made if they weren’t embarrassed to be playing rock music these days. This is not as good, but Rufus still sounds like a mushmouthed angel, and it begins with an actual Agnus Dei, which appeals to me because I admire pretension in rock music. (No Rob Sheffield, I.) My favorite track at the moment is the very long closer, “Old Whore’s Diet,” which features guest vocals from Antony, the guy who sang on Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” (CORRECTION: Turns out the guy who sang on Daft Punk's last record's name was Romanthony, not Antony. I got my "male diva vocalists whose names are odd variations on 'Anthony'" mixed up.) Rivals David Guetta for sheer fantabulousness.
12. ELBOW: CAST OF THOUSANDS—Mancunian art-rockers with Peter Gabrielesque vocals, these guys toured with Doves, which is very appropriate. This is a much more ebullient record than their last one, and it has some fine anthemic moments, like the “Grace Under Pressure,” “Ribcage,” and “Fallen Angel.”
11. CAKE: PRESSURE CHIEF—When I first listened to this I got up to song four before I actually yelled, out loud, “Hooray for a new Cake album!” Rock solid Cake-y goodness, as always. Recommended: their cover of Bread’s “The Guitar Man,” “Dime.”
10. TV ON THE RADIO: DESPERATE YOUTH, BLOODTHIRSTY BABES—Hooray for art-rockers with Peter Gabrielesque vocals! These ones, though, are from NYC, and they’re very arty indeed, part of a loose collective that includes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Liars. This is another band I discovered through “The Dive,” and they have some beautiful industrial (not in the metal sense, in the weird electronic sense) music on here. The three song suite of “Staring at the Sun,” “Dreams,” and “King Eternal” is one of my favorite musical moments of the year.
9. U2: HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB—Vastly superior to their egregious 2000 effort at making music for mall PA systems, All That You Can't Leave Behind, in every way but one: no song on here is as good as “Beautiful Day.” But that’s okay, because “Beautiful Day” may well be the best song they ever did. Convincingly rocking and a good synthesis of 80s sincerity and 90s irony for those of us who enjoyed both, and only one lyrical misstep (“Original of the Species”), which is reassuring after the “Elevation” debacle (who among us can forget “a mole, diggin’ in a hole”?). Recommended: “Vertigo,” “City of Blinding Lights,” “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own,” “A Man and a Woman.” The second-best U2 album of the year, after the Walkmen’s record. Still, I find myself not listening to it much anymore. It seems that whatever they lost when they made All That, they lost permanently.
8. KYLIE MINOGUE: BODY LANGUAGE—Kylie is awesome. Madonna and Britney wish they could make an album this good. Non-stop funky electro with sexy Betty Boop vocals. It makes you wish you lived in the UK so that this was your disposable musical wallpaper rather than that Usher/Li’l Jon song. Recommended: “Still Standing,” “Sweet Music,” “Chocolate.” Put this on at your next party and people will love you.
7. SNOW PATROL: THE FINAL STRAW—This is a wonderful album from a band with one of the worst names around. (Raise your hand if you thought they were a nü-metal outfit.) It's melodic hard rock from Ireland, sort of like if you crossed The Colour and the Shape-era Foo Fighters with Coldplay. One thing that really impresses me about this band is their sense of economy: Nearly every song doesn't extend pass two iterations of verse and chorus. They intelligently incorporate a lot of early-90s influences without ever delving into nostalgia, and their hooks and choruses often have a My Bloody Valentine-esque sense of melody to them. An unexpected and very welcome addition to the list. Recommended: "Wow," "Spitting Games," "Run"—really, the whole album is quite good.
6. SCISSOR SISTERS: SCISSOR SISTERS—A tour through 70s camp, from Elton John (obviously) to Bowie to Roxy Music (their liner-note poses perfectly replicate the liner-note poses from Roxy’s first record) to (as Ken pointed out to me) Billy Joel to disco. This really has grown on me from “yeah, that’s pretty good” to “wow” the more I’ve listened to it, thanks to moments like the piano chords before the chorus of "Mary" and the pre-choruses in "It Can't Come Quickly Enough." I hope they make a lot more records, at least so the wait for between Fischerspooner albums won’t seem as long. Recommended: “Comfortably Numb” (if you download only one song from this whole list, make it that one), “Music Is the Victim,” “Mary,” “Lovers in the Back Seat,” “Filthy/Gorgeous,” “It Can’t Come Quickly Enough.”
5. KEANE: HOPES AND FEARS—Wow, is this ever good. I mean, it is good. If you cross this band and Elbow you get Doves, so that’s nice; and everyone compares them to Coldplay but they’re definitely their own, keyboard-based thing. The vocals are just beautiful, with hints of Freddie Mercury audible on occasion, and the songcraft is tremendous throughout—those simple keyboard hooks are devastatingly effective. Particularly recommended: “Somewhere Only We Know,” “Bend and Break,” “Everybody’s Changing,” “Sunshine,” “Untitled 1,” “Bedshaped.” Those last three almost perfectly replicate the feeling I got from the brit-pop/trip-hop/melancholic "electronica"/Fiona Apple type music I was listening to in college, but without being nostalgic at all, in much the same way that “Maps” and “Y Control” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs put me in mind of Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction without sounding anything like any of them. Awesome.
4. THE FAINT: WET FROM BIRTH—Nobody writes lyrics like the Faint's. Nobody. The specificity and "they wrote a song about that?"-ness of them simply must be heard to be believed. Throw in the fact that they do the 80s-revival bit better than just about anyone, with enormously fat synth riffs that rival the monstrosity of Gary Numan's Telekon, and you've got a fuckin’ killer record. Recommended “How Could I Forget,” “Erection,” “Paranoiattack.”
3. FRANZ FERDINAND: FRANZ FERDINAND—Sexy, slinky music from Scotsmen, if you can believe it. You’ve heard this on the radio, but you really need to hear the whole record, which fully deserves the hype. Extremely sophisticated—between this and Scissor Sisters, are the heirs of Roxy Music walking the earth? Recommended: “Take Me Out” (duh), “Dark of the Matinee,” “Jacqueline,” “Auf Asche,” “This Fire,” “Michael” (please please please release this as a single, guys).
2. THE WALKMEN: BOWS & ARROWS—Okay, here’s where the hyperbole sets in, but I really can’t say enough good things about this record, which has the most astoundingly intense guitars I heard all year. I’ve read reviews that say that they really capture early U2, which they do, but you have to imagine an nourish, urban, angry U2, or maybe (better) a Joy Division that directed their anger outward rather than inward. I’m making it sound more grumpy than it is, though—they’ve got a great sense of humor and warmth, and it shows in slow and fast songs alike. NYC boys in thin sweaters. Frighteningly good, very, very close to the album of the year. Recommended: “The Rat” (best song of the year), “Little House of Savages,” “My Old Man,” “Hang On, Siobhan,” “New Year’s Eve,” “Waiting for a Dream I Had,” “Bows & Arrows.”
1. INTERPOL: ANTICS—Everyone’s saying that this is the album where Interpol learned to write songs, which is stupid, because their first record was chockablock full of great songs. But on here they’re even better, believe it or not—their sonic palette has expanded to let in a lot more color and light, with great use of major keys and more hooks than a box of fishing tackle. The vocals are still reminiscent of Ian Curtis in places (more than ever in certain places, like the chorus for “Slow Hands”), but now there are Michael Stipe elements too—but it’s still very much its own animal. I was amazed by how good this album is—every song gets to a point where you’re just like “oh my God.” Best of the year. Recommended: the whole damn thing, but highlights include “Evil, “Narc,” “Slow Hands,” “Not Even Jail,” “Length of Love.”
And there you have it! Apologies to Ghostface, the Streets, and DFA—I’m sure your albums are really good, but I just never got around to actually getting them. Happy listening!
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Feb. 27th, 2005:
Last night my friend Ken threw himself a birthday party. And when I say he threw himself a birthday party, what I mean is that he did not fuck around. There was an open bar, a knife-throwing act, a ska band, an artsy marching band, burlesque dancers, and a happy-birthday-to-Ken strip show involving two of his friends that ended in an act that reminded me of nothing so much as George Costanza's declaration to a Senegalese home-care aide of his acquaintance, "I want to dip my bald head in oil and rub it all over your body," only in this case "oil" was replaced by chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and maybe some other stuff I couldn't see from that distance. When Amy and I left the party, there was a man with a face tattoo on stage doing some sort of revival-tent speech (that, or the opening for the MC5's Kick Out the Jams). As I said, Kenneth did not fuck around. What's funny about all this is that this was not for his 20th or 21st or 25th or 30th birthday (hell, given his and my predelictions, I'd have understood if it was his 23rd), but his 27th. I now sort of feel I can't ever have a birthday party again, because this would be pretty much impossible to top.
One thing I feel I discovered last night is that I truly can put away Guinness. I don't think this makes me special or anything, but I know that for a lot of people (my grandfather, for instance), it's just too heavy. It actually feels lighter than Pabst Blue Ribbon to me. I feel I am fortunate in this regard.
Another thing I discovered (or re-discovered) last night is that despite the fact that I work in the comics industry, I actually have one of the least ridiculous jobs of my high-school circle of friends. We count among our number a glass blower, a knife-thrower's assistant, and an anti-capitalist zine archivist. Granted, Ken's gig at a Fortune 500 company completely ruins the curve, but still.
Meanwhile the highlight of Amy's night was when a gay man complimented her ass. I do this all the time--seriously, all the time--but I guess she reasoned that this fellow knows from asses. Fine, fine, anything that gets her to actually accept a compliment. Right now she is asleep with her head in my lap, so perhaps I'll try subliminal messages to that effect.
We also saw the Gates last night, finally. Eh. It's impressive, in the sense that most massive things are impressive, but they just look like dirty shower curtains to me, or something from the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Amy and I fought quite a bit yesterday. Wish I knew why, but I was just in a rotten mood and I let her know it. Yuck. On the other hand the nice thing about being married is that it lessens the drama--what're we gonna do, get divorced? Although, as Amy put it, there may be less drama but there's also more irritation, as we're stuck with each other. 99 times out of 100, though, that's just fine with me.
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Feb. 27th 2005:
Thank you to everyone who's linked to the blog so far. However, I do feel obligated to let Johnny Bacardi readers know that, alas, this is not strictly a music blog. But I expect you'll see a decent amount of that sort of activity going on here, at least until an oft-promised freelance opportunity along those lines finally materializes.
I could start by saying that I've heard the lead single of the next nine inch nails album (single: "the hand that feeds"; album: with teeth), and it's not very good. Musically it's nowhere near as interesting as the bizarre analog crunchscapes of the fragile (which was at one point my favorite album of the decade, though I feel I've grown away from it since), and lyrically--well, I suppose a part of me had assumed Trent Reznor's lyrical preoccupations would by this point have advanced at least slightly past where they were on Pretty Hate Machine way back when, but this does not seem to be the case. In fairness, the lead single (that is, the song the radio chose to play first; it was a b-side from the actual lead single, technically) from the fragile, "starfuckers, inc.," was by far the least interesting song on that album--aside from the cheeky carly simon swipe, it could have been done by Gravity Kills--so maybe we'll see a repeat of that pattern here.
It's interesting when an album by a band you were extremely heavily into a few years prior comes along while you're immeresed in music that's nothing like it. Last time this happened to me was when Underworld released A Hundred Days Off, at which point in my life After the Gold Rush, Hunky Dory, Beggars Banquet and Pink Moon were in heavy iPod rotation. But good will out, and that Underworld record was quite good indeed, and worked its way right into the '68-'74-fest in my brain without much hassle. nine inch nails have never been simply about metal aggression, but the bands I've been listenting to aren't about that at all--I read an interview with Interpol frontman Paul Banks in which he specifically stated he eschews his aggressive side when writing and recording. I'll be curious to see how the new NIN record meshes with the skinny-tie set.
On the other hand, my favorite song for the past two weeks or so has been Doves' new one, the astounding "Black and White Town." Naturally this group of moody Mancunians has the same main touchstone as Interpol (and nine inch nails, for that matter)--Joy Division--but the technicolor direction they take this in is a lot different from the angular dance-rock I've been into these days. (Does the "Heat Wave"-style piano take it back in that direction, or move it further away? You make the call!) Then again, Interpol themselves went in a more brightly-hued direction on their last record, so perhaps it's all more seamless than I'm making it sound. (Still, someone's gonna have to explain why I've been digging on Billy Joel's "Big Shot"...)
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Mar. 1st, 2005:
I truly did not intend to start a music blog. And this isn’t going to become a music blog. But I am going to be doing some music blogging, and probably more than I otherwise might thanks to the positive reinforcement I’ve been getting from the likes of Dave, Bill, Eve, and Dorian. That’s why I’m easy.
With the help of my trusty TiVo programming guide, I decided to put a theory to the test a month or so ago and flipped through a week’s worth of shows to determine how many hours per week MTV (“Music Television”) dedicates to playing actual music videos. The answer was eight. This is a shockingly low number, even to someone like me who expected my most cynical guesses to be met, but certainly not surpassed. I suppose I could have been more generous and granted them Making the Video, which after all does culminate in the playing of one whole music video per episode. However, the bulk of that show is just more of the same celebfotainment what-have-you that fills up the rest of the network’s program hours. Moreover, I was already being fairly generous by counting TRL, which if you’re lucky plays maybe the equivalent of a full music video during its hour-long parade of 30-second vid-snippets.
It seems almost unnecessary to say that all the good music videos have been hounded right off the network’s schedule. 120 Minutes is gone, though it outlived its more mainstream-friendly kid brother Alternative Nation. Amp, the net’s mid-‘90s sop to “electronica” (yuck--do they call rock, country, and blues “guitarica”?) died out around the time the third Chemical Brothers record tanked in the States. Headbanger’s Ball is around in some incarnation or other, but without Riki Rachtman? Please. (Gotta love how they can take something they completely fucked up, like Riki and the Ball, make a special about how badly they fucked it up, and somehow weave that into their tapestry of the Wild History of MTV and come out looking better than ever. Hideous.) And everything that was great about Yo! MTV Raps disappeared somewhere along the line as the show was shitcanned and the network coopted hip-hop as its lingua franca. (On a peripheral note, I can’t even remember the last entertaining VJ. There was something sort of entertaining about the bald hardcore kid who held all the music he was forced to talk about in such obvious contempt, but Kurt “I’m above it all, yet I still enjoy sucking Madonna’s dick every two years or so” Loder wore that schtick thin years ago. I guess there was that Jesse dude a while back, but Jesse, you are no Randy of the Redwoods. You aren’t even the Wiez. In fact, as it turns out, Beavis and Butt-Head, with their almost unerring ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, were probably the best VJs MTV had this side of Martha Quinn.)
So boy oh boy were the Missus and I excited when we stumbled across The Dive, a show on rival music-vid channel Fuse. Airing at 10pm on Saturdays, which is nice because we are borderline hermits, this show plays honest-to-God alternative music. Until very recently it was literally the only place on television I’d ever seen videos by Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, the Postal Service, the Walkmen, Electric Six, Elefant, TV on the Radio, Handsome Boy Modeling School, and more that I’m probably missing. We soon discovered that it’s immediately followed by a show called Tower Records’ Next Big Thing, which I guess runs slightly closer to a Warped Tour aesthetic but otherwise seems no different, except that the videos you see one week on The Dive play on NBT about three weeks later. So in the space of one hour on Fuse, you’ll see more good videos than you would in a full week--or more likely a full month--of watching MTV.
Does the Old Gray Lady of Madonna-Rolling-Around-in-a-Wedding-Dress Clips have anything to counter with? Well, sorta. Remember its sister network, MTV2? You know, the thing that started off as all music videos, no commercials, no reality shows, no behind-the-scenes shows, no cartoons, stuff from the vaults, commercials starring Devo and Biz Markie, wasn’t even called MTV2 (it was M2 until someone remembered that lecture on branding from b-school)? How the mighty have fallen, man. (If you ever have the chance, flip through the first dozen issues or so of Brian Bendis’s Powers and see how hard he humped this station in the letter columns, back when it was everything MTV watchers had dreamed of. How many future Bendis-Boarders are ruing ever following that advice? That is, if they can tear themselves away from the latest self-congratulatory train-wreck MTV autodocumentary, perhaps one in which the suits pat themselves on the back for breaking down racist barriers by playing “Billie Jean,” racist barriers that they themselves erected. As an angry orc would say, “Garn.”)
But anyway, MTV2 does have its own alt/indie show, a little number called, with typical imagination and subtlety, Subterranean. (Actually, I'm guessing that this show predates The Dive, since Fuse has only been "Fuse" for a relatively short period of time, before which it was MuchMusic USA. But I'm still giving more credit to The Dive, because if I were Desi and MTV were Lucy and my day at work was the last two and a half decades or so, MTV would have some 'splainin' to do.) So for the last few weeks the Missus and I have been TiVoing it, along with the two Fuse shows. It took us a while to get the kinks out--for some reason you can’t get a Season Pass to either The Dive or NBT, while Subterranean was always losing out to the higher-priority Sealab 2021 in our To Do List, until I bit the bullet, rejiggered the Season Pass Manager and kissed Debbie, Marco et al goodbye for the sake of the rock--but this evening we were finally able to sit down and watch two hours of non-Usher videos in a row. Well, less than two hours, since we can fast-forward through the commercials. (I’ve taken to shouting “We are not barbarians here!” at the ads as we zip past them, all civilized and shit.)
One thing I noticed right off the bat is that, when you combine The Dive and NBT (each is half an hour long) and stack them up against Subterranean, the former hour contains at least three more videos than the latter. In part this is because Sub features segment intros from host Jim Shearer, who also does a couple of brief interview spots per ep with a guest band. But we’re not talking Charlie Rose here--we’re not talking Joe Scarborough for that matter--so I think we’d be better off losing all that jive, and oh yeah, THE METRIC TON OF COMMERCIALS, and playing more music.
But the music is the real point. Since I no longer get sent comp copies of albums as I did back at my old gig, radio is basically a lost cause, and standard music television is a joke, I pretty much rely on these shows to get a taste of what’s out there--hence the TiVoing. Each time, there’s some interesting new stuff, some favorites, and some “eh.” Here’s how I’ve handicapped this past weekend’s efforts.
Subterranean (MTV, 12am Mon. (or midnight Sun., whatever you want to call it); most recent playlist here, past playlists here; MTV's official site doesn't even have a homepage for the thing)
This is only the second episode of this show that I’ve seen. Last time around it kicked off with videos by Saul Williams and the Chemical Brothers, so I thought it was going more in an electronic direction than the indie/retro-dance-rock Dive typically travels. But if this week’s ep is any indication, that’s merely how they get started before settling into that same groove. (Warning: You will have to put up with the giant opaque two-headed-dog MTV2 logo in the corner, as well as giant opaque bars that appear right in the middle of the fucking screen to tell you what video you're watching and, in the middle of the video, what show you're watching. What can you even say about that?)
LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
LCD Soundsystem is to Rapture producers DFA as N.E.R.D. is to the Neptunes, and this is the terrifically funky lead single off their debut full-length. Lyrically it’s a clever little boast about how cool this dude and his party are, vocally it gets interesting with the “a-whoo-hoo, yeah”s, musically you are going to shake your ass, and visually, despite the homages to different Daft Punk videos (and “Sledgehammer”!), it’s kinda boring. Oh well.
Phoenix - Run, Run, Run
This band had a marvelously nostalgic song on the Lost in Translation soundtrack, “Too Young,” which with its crystal-clear production and happy-sad New Wave-isms recalled for me Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out.” On the strength of that track I gave a listen to a comp copy of their album United that we had lying around the office, and I remember being disappointed and not even bothering to take it home, though in retrospect I’ve questioned that decision because “Too Young” is so good. Watching this video, I can take comfort in the knowledge that I made the right decision. At one point they just keep saying “Run, Run, Run”--what they need to do is run, run, run to the Rock Store and by theyselfs some ROCK. (Tangential aside: Apparently, Phoenix used to be Air’s back-up band. Learning this prompted me to stage an impromptu reenactment of what I thought Air’s dismissal of the Phoenix personnel must have been like. It turns out that in my mind, Air sound a lot like Batroc ze Leepair.)
Doves - Black And White Town
I’m already on record as saying that this is my favorite song of recent weeks, and I feel like it gets better every timeI hear it, from that insistent yet contemplative piano line to the liberatory noodled-out guitar solo. And the video is perfect--a gaggle of awkward, homely, malnourished British adolescents make trouble for themselves, like Kids but without being stupid.
Interpol – Evil
Another great song from another great band, with an incredibly perplexing video that’s been growing on me. It involves a car accident and a puppet, and I think it deliberately dances on that thin line between funny and serious, a line called “unsettling.” Same for the puppet itself, which we’d be comfortable with as viewers if it went in either direction along the realistic-cartoony axis--if they gave it a nose, say, or took away those teeth. Instead, we’re in (not to be blogosphere-hackneyed about it, but what can I do) Uncanny Valley, pop. Interpol. This is actually an excellent match for the song, which like the rest of the second Interpol record is an attempt to wed the very very dark stuff they get compared to all the time with the major-key rock they apparently enjoy. A successful wedding indeed.
The Good Life - Lovers Need Lawyers
So, apparently, do Squeeze and the Shins. I suppose this is the Saddle Creek label’s leap upon the indie-rockers-with-beards bandwagon. This is not for me.
Pinback – AFK
Neither is this, though I am sorry he’s upset.
The Music - Breakin'
Started off promising, but then the lead singer showed up. I’m trying to put my finger on who he sounds like, but whoever it is he’s not pleasant. And I know he thinks he’s movin’ and groovin’ like Robert Plant, but trust me, sir, no one comes to mind so much as the guy from the Spin Doctors. I certainly admire their passion for the Madchester scene, right down to The One Guy In The Band With The Normal Haircut, but I’m sorry, no.
Tegan and Sara - Speak Slow
This is what Beavis and Butt-Head would refer to as “college music.” I made this observation to Amy, who recalled the bit from the time the boys were watching that Helium video where they theorized that the lead singer had just woken up and was still really sleepy, but she’d probably take a late lunch and then commence rocking. I think it was awfully nice of them to give her the benefit of the doubt in this regard. Anyway, this is also what I call “Amy music,” which is to say female-fronted indie rock that kinda rocks you in an unassuming, sweater-wearing way, though their vocals are obviously slightly indebted to the sassier, Joan Jett-derived school. They don’t appear to be very good, though, and the almost confrontationally hipster haircuts are a little much, as Amy observed. Seriously, if Williamsburg, Brooklyn were the United States Marine Corps, these girls would be sporting the haircuts they’d dole out during the opening credits of Full Metal Jacket. My first instinct was to say “their hipster hairdos are makin’ me feel ill,” but then I realized the line was “Hitler hairdos,” and to the best of my knowledge Hitler never did lines in the bathroom of North Six, so nevermind.
Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights
If you never learn anything else about me, learn that band names like Death From Above 1979 are right the fuck up my fuckkin’ alley. (Didja know?: LCD Soundsystem alter egos DFA got their name by abbreviating “Death From Above”!) This is one of them two-person listen-to-how-much-low-end-I-can-get-out-of-my-guitar bands, a la the Kills, the Black Keys, the Raveonettes and the mighty White Stripes. They, too, do not appear to be very good. The riff the song centers on, for example, is not nearly as good as they think it is, which is sad because there is a really good riff that they end up wasting on what I think was the bridge. All they had to do was come see Sean, the Rock Professor, during his office hours, and he coulda told them whether they was getting’ a passin’ grade. Also, get your hair out of your faces, it’s driving me crazy.
The Dive (Fuse, 10pm Sat., 3am Mon. (or 2am Sun.--it varies); recent playlists here)
This is my favorite of the three shows, perhaps for sentimental reasons but mainly because it truly does have the highest quality selection of videos, in my experience. This week was a pretty representative sample. Sadly, a gander at those time slots can probably tell you all you need to know about Fuse’s faith in this show, so get it while it’s hot.
Eisley - Telescope Eyes
I think Amy put it best when she said, “Calm. Down.” (She was being facetious.) I appreciate that they’re all related and that they named their band after the wretched hive of scum and villainy from Episode IV, or at least tried to before Lucas sicced his lawyers on them, but c’mon, folks, call me when you get back from the Rock Store, or when your Xanax prescription runs out. They make *CALLBACK ALERT*the girl from Helium*END CALLBACK ALERT* look like Susan Powter.
The Postal Service - We Will Become Silhouettes
Now that’s more like it. The Dive is an almost guaranteed fount of Ben Gibbardy goodness every week, and this go-round it’s his electro-pop side project’s apocalyptic opus. The video is a scream, with Ben decked out in flawless late-‘80s normal-guy attire (stonewashed jeans with no belt = gawjuss) and singing to his family (including wife Jenny Lewis (we think) and teenage son Jimmy Tamborello) before they all don sci-fi-circa-1973 tunics and ride off into a stony desert to drink fruit juice and gaze into the sunset. This song is one of the strongest on a very strong album. It was also one of my favorite science-fiction works of the year 2003, and the video is pretty boss too. There’s a look Ben gives his younger son when he hands him a cookie that’s just to die for if you know this type of fellow (Amy’s brother-in-law fits the bill), and Jenny Lewis, if that's who that is, is lovely, though I’ve got a bone to pick with her, as you’ll see later. (Dun-dun-DUNNNNN!)
Futureheads - First Day
When I first heard this song I was like, “I guess they listen to a lot of Gang of Four.” As it turns out a member of Gang of Four produced their album, so put one in the win column for Sean. This is a short, tight, neat little number that in addition to the G4 influence reminds me quite a bit of Talking Heads circa “Don’t Worry About the Government” in terms of lyric and a sort of merry, mathematical chaos to the instrumentation. The video has just the right amount of creep to it, with artificial limbs and taking-a-photo-of-your-cat flashed-out eyeballs popping up at odd moments. (Same with the guy who spits out his food as he sings.) The song is a tribute to a new employee’s first day on the job--a tongue-in-cheek one, predictably, as we all know it’s just awful that we all have to work at relatively uninteresting jobs, isn’t it. But the thing is, despite the fact that this has been a lyrical target of slightly-too-easy leftist rock songs since at least the Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” (to say nothing of Gang of Four’s entire debut album)--well, it’s kinda true, isn’t it? I for one am finding the prospect of a lifetime of day jobs just this side of horrifying. At any rate, as Amy pointed out, you really don’t hear songs sung about this sort of thing very often, as nearly everyone in rock and pop is still singing about their junior proms in one way or another. This is a very well-done song and video and I’d like to hear more.
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
I first heard this song on a business trip out to Los Angeles a month and a half ago, where KROQ played it incessantly. (This blew my mind, because New York City’s K-Rock, to put it as politely as possible, does not break new music EVER.) Everything that the Killers’ “Somebody Told Me” apparently did for everyone else in the blogosphere, this did for me. Hoo, did it ever. It’s tough to think of a single more Tailor-Made For Sean To Like It this side of the Hives’ “Walk Idiot Walk.” Holy God, that chorus! That accent! That rhyme of “leery” with “tell thee”! The video has a mildly clever conceit--the “riot” ends up being a massive pillowfight--and tons of footage of a lead singer who reminds me of The State’s Thomas Lennon doing a parody of a cool early-‘80s rock band’s lead singer. (I just keep picturing his impersonation of Fred Schneider in a dream sequence from the show they did with Jon Stewart, You Wrote It, You Watch It: “It’s a par-ty line, and the party’s goin’ fine!” “Everybody’s takin’ a poo-poo!”) This was another case of downloading a whole bunch of tracks from the album and being left flat--it sounded to me like warmed-over Kinks, which means it probably sounds to people with a slightly more extensive power-pop education than mine own like warmed-over Jam. But they can’t take “I Predict a Riot” away from me.
UNKLE featuring Ian Brown – Reign
We all like that first UNKLE record, from back when DJ Shadow might still have been the future of music and people were still holding out hope that Tricky would record something worth listening to again one day. And this is nice. But man, it is nothing to write home about. The symphonic electronic/trip-hop thing has been done so many times since Massive Attack invented it with “Unfinished Sympathy,” and the faceless-electronic-musician-recruits-Mancunian-singer-with-shaggy-haircut-to-sing-on-the-single schtick--well, it’s been almost as long since “Setting Sun” as it has since “Unfinished Sympathy.” Even the video feels like I Love the ‘90s as Represented in the Music Review Section of the Campus Daily: Some ectomorph who looks like the grown-up version of the kid from Deliverance writhes around in a glass tank while submerged underwater, and believe it or not I just described this video rather than (or more accurately, in addition to) the one for Radiohead’s “No Surprises.” I feel for James Lavelle, who’s soldiering on gamely in the absence of Shadow and in the wake of Timbaland, Pharrell et al; and everyone owes Ian Brown a hearty handshake for “This Is the One” if nothing else; but I can’t help but think that this is 2005, and this video isn’t. And unlike the case with every other band I listen to these days, this isn't a good thing here.
Rilo Kiley - It's A Hit
The song is more Amy Music, which is fine, but that is not the important thing when talking about this video. The important thing is that this is the meanest video I have ever seen, and I am not going to watch it ever again. George Lucas famously remarked that any idiot can work an audience’s emotional hot button--just get a kitten and wring its neck. (This is actually done in Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws, by the way, and it works.) In this case what Jenny Lewis and company did was create a cartoon about a couple of hedgehog-type creatures who are in love with each other, then brutally kill one of them toward the end of the video, then have the survivor become superpowerful in its grief and zap all the bad guys, and isn’t it so sensitive because gee that sure is the way the big bad world works, and all we emo types have are our earnest love songs and our lo-fi cartooning and BLEEECCCCCCCHHHHH!!!!! Ugh, this is the crassest, most emotionally manipulative video ever. If you want something to compare it to, compare it to milk-cartons-in-love clip for Blur’s “Coffee & TV,” but strip away all the humor, cleverness, jauntiness, originality, and humanity. Also the happy ending. Ugh, fecch, terrible. When I first saw this video I literally burst into tears because it upset me so much--not just killing the cute cartoon animal, but the fact that anyone could see this as an acceptable aesthetic strategy. OhmyGod I HATE this video. (Mildly political aside, offered without comment: Amy has since informed me that the song, and one would imagine, by extension, the video, is some sort of commentary on the Bush Administration.)
Tower Records’ Next Big Thing (Fuse, 10:30pm Sat., 3:30am Mon. (or 2:30am Sun.--it varies))
Or, Where Dive Videos Go to Get Played Every Single Week for Like a Month. Here you will see bands that seem to stand a greater chance of actually making the jump to music-television-dom proper, though the distinction is nearly nonexistent, and nearly all of these videos start out on the other show and flip here without much apparent justification. It’s often seemed that one week’s NBT is identical to the next’s, except perhaps for one video. I’ve since discovered that this may well be the case, because the show is technically a platform for some sort of “Next Big Thing Award,” where viewers can vote from the month’s batch of in-rotation videos, and the winner gets declared the Next Big Thing or something. So if you don’t like any of the following bands and don’t feel like taking the crap shoot on the remaining two or three videos available for play this month--well hey, it probably don’t matter, since March has just started and I’m guessing the playlist will get a shake-up! (Just thank whatever god you pray to that you dodged January's Zutons bullet.)
The Bravery – Unconditional
At first I wasn’t sure if I liked this song or not. Then I decided that I was pretty damn sure I did. I’d literally never heard, indeed never heard of, this band of NYC-based sharp-dressed retro-dance-rockers before seeing this video on The Dive, and I’ve since voraciously downloaded whatever stuff of theirs I could find--finally, this pays off with a band that actually does do it for me! I really like their rinky-dink homemade keyboard sound, used to great effect on the intro for this tune (and even better effect on the intro to future-single-I-hope-I-hope-I-hope “Fearless”). Lots of sexy hipster girls in the video, probably too many for it to be good for the band’s ego, but other than that, it’s a hit.
When will this song start rocking? The answer, as Amy and I have discovered to our chagrin, is never. Don’t be fooled, because it sounds like at some point it’s gonna start rocking, but it doesn’t. Rock, damn you, because you’re really not that cute.
This song does rock, in theory. But it doesn’t rock nearly as hard as it thinks it does--or for that matter as hard as the Primal Scream records it thinks it’s not ripping off because we’ve grown beyond that, man. Nope. The Spring of ‘68/Eastern Bloc video, the obscure Manson reference in the band name, the metallic distortion on the guitars and vocals--since I’m sure you’ll appreciate an extremely obscure Python reference, we done them.
The Honorary Title--Bridge & Tunnel
Nothing happens in this video except that we follow around some tattooed bohemian behind the scenes as he sets up for his video, and fella, you are just not cute enough to make this worth anyone’s while.
Head Automatica--Beating Heart Baby
Wasn’t impressed by this at first, but it grew on me. The screamy emo stuff wasn’t completely overblown My Chemical Romance style, which I appreciated. They all look fabulous and sweaty in blazers (not suit jackets!) and ties, and the lead singer is kind of fey, which I also appreciate. Turns out Dan the Automator was somehow involved in this project, which is probably a good sign, even though everything he’s done since the first Handsome Boy record has been extremely hit or miss. I’ll give ‘em the benefit of the doubt.
The Mars Volta--The Widow
This is the band that evolved out of At the Drive-In--the good one, I mean. (Sparta: eh.) Amy doesn’t like this video for some reason. You will like it if you like Palomar. I love this band, and no one to whom I recommend them (Alan, Ken) seems to agree with me. You all are nuts. What amazes me is that critics honestly felt that this band was inaccessible. Clearly today’s critics do not listen to enough King Crimson. Anyway, this song has modern-rock-radio hit written on it in giant block letters that glow in the dark. Good for them.
And there you have it! Tomorrow: More blogging, as I have a snow day. (At least I hope I do, since I’m now up way past my bedtime. My poor cat is so confused.)
Originally posted at The Outbreak on Feb. 25th, 2005:
I just can't get into the Killers. It's weird, because everything I listen to these days is totally faggot-ass retro: the Faint, Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters, the Bravery, the Dandy Warhols, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, Elefant, Fischerspooner, W.I.T., and on and on and on and on and on. I downloaded the Killers' whole album after going back and forth on "Somebody Told Me" (My question was, Can something that rips off Blur so flagrantly still be good? the answer is Yeah, it's still pretty good), but I don't know, something just didn't click. It's not like I hate 'em, I think they're alright, but I feel like I should be flipping out about them and I just ain't. I will say this for them, though: They dress well. And points for eyeliner, of course.
But this can only get you so far. I so wanted to like the Zutons because they looked damn sharp in the original video for that "Pressure Point" song (the version they show on Fuse as opposed to MTV), but if I hear that "ah-ooh, hoo, hoo" one more time, I'm going to drive my car through a Starbucks storefront.
I also just can't get into the Arcade Fire. I find this band really interesting because I think 90% of the people who've listened to them (myself included) had never heard of them before they started showing up on every, and I do mean EVERY, Best of 2004 list at the end of last year, in many cases in magazines that hadn't actually reviewed the record when it first came out. I know other *music critics* who hadn't heard of them until they showed up in the Best Of list their own publication published. I think a week before I first read a Best Of with them on it, one of my co-workers asked me if I listened to them and expressed surprise when I said no because I was his quote-unquote "hipster music connection," but that's it.
(Please note that I don't think anyone is less of an Arcade Fire fan due to when they started listening to the band, eg. after all the press they got. You can't listen to a band you haven't heard of! Life's too short to get worried about stuff like that.)
Anyway in the car on the way to lunch this friend from work played me "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and I loved it--I thought this was another Rapture-style dance-rock band, and MAN, that sense of urgency. So I ran back to work and downloaded the album, and eh. Again, I don't hate them--the first 30 seconds or so of the first song are GREAT, and "Power Out" is still awesome--but the rest doesn't quite wang my dang, and I can't understand the absolutely RAPTUROUS reception they've gotten.
I think part of my problem with them is that the guy can't really sing--he's got one of those warbly Frank Black/Wayne Coyne/guy from Modest Mouse voices that don't really do it for me in the context of Big Anthemic Rock Music. (The only exception, for some reason, is the guy from the Polyphonic Spree, but they're so goofy and over-the-top that it doesn't matter; on the other hand you didn't see me running out to buy their second album, I guess.) If Arcade Fire Guy could sing like Thom Yorke they'd probably kick all kinds of ass, but as it stands it's like going to a Radiohead concert and finding out that Thom is sick and the guy who sets up the speakers is going to be singing tonight.
I dunno, like I said, I don't hate 'em, I just could take 'em or leave 'em.
My friend Jim Dougan wrote a comic, and his friend Mike Fiffe drew it. It's a half-Western, half-Frank Miller parody called "The Big Fat Noon." You should read it.
In the dozen or so entries below this one you'll find most of the substantial posts I wrote for my new blog The Outbreak before, alas, its name became eerily prescient. There's a month's worth of material to go through, so may I be so bold as to recommend several items?
* A look at the videos played on three music-video programs that are actually pretty good
* The Best Albums of 2004
* Ways I could have fixed The Matrix Revolutions if anyone had asked for my help
And have I mentioned that The Outbreak is an ongoing chronicle of my life during a zombie plague? Yes, this was something I'd planned out when I started the blog as a relatively normal personal/pop-cultural affair, so it was certainly fun fielding concerned emails from confused readers when the shit started hitting the fan--I felt a little bit like I was doing my own personal War of the Worlds broadcast for a second there. But really, my goals in writing The Outbreak are to a) do something with the medium of blogging that I don't think has been done before; b) work around some of the pitfalls of horror fiction by personalizing it with non-fictional autobiographical elements; c) get in the groove of writing fiction every day; d) tell some scary zombie stories. Anyway, I first dropped hints that something unsual was going on with this post, so start there and work your way to the present day.
I would also like to direct you to my extremely not safe for work autobiographical comic "1995," written by me and drawn by Shawn Cheng. Originally created for and subsequently rejected by the True Porn 2 anthology, it probably reveals more information about me than you need or want to know, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it. Shawn and I both tought it accomplished what we set out to accomplish, and we're very proud of it. There are no zombies involved at any rate.
One of the nice things about being once again ensconced between the warm and nurturing breasts of the All Too Flat websprawl is that my readers can click the links at the top of the page and find some funny stuff. But maybe the funniest thing my fellow Flatmates have ever done can be found here: Ladies and gentlemen, the Open House prank. If you ever read any other page on ATF, make it that one.
Back to The Outbreak, I started a meme over there that never really went anywhere, so I'm bringing it back here and forcing it down people's throats until they swallow it.
Behold, the Caesar's Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can't really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), "Nice. Nice. Not thrilling...but nice."
1. The Simpsons
3. The Arcade Fire
4. Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier as representative of Everything Superhero Comics Should Be
5. The Incredibles
already did it, bless 'im, I'm assigning this one out to Jim
, and Alan
, because I have no idea how or if they'll respond. I'll also kick it over to The Missus
, if she'll have it. But don't forget: Anyone
can pick this up and run with it. Try it, you'll like it!
A fond farewell to one of my favorite bloggers, Franklin Harris. He was one of those bloggers who may have been a linkblogger but felt like a thinkblogger. Best of luck, Franklin!
Finally, remember: Never trust anyone who doesn't like the Beatles or Abraham Lincoln.
I'm glad to be back here!
(Like the title, longtime readers?)
Hot on the heels of his new comic, Jim Dougan has a new blog! (Or LiveJournal. Whatever.) Jim is one of my bestest Internet friends, and also one of the few I've met in person, much to my delight. I'm glad he's blogging.
Speaking of Internet friends, Alan David Doane has posted his version of the Caesar's Bath meme. Gee, when you see that two things he doesn't really see the fuss about are music and comedy, it makes the arctic shit-knife a little easier to understand, no? :) Ha ha, I kid because I love.
And hey, Joe Rybandt did it too! Folks, it's not too late to get on this bandwagon.
It is good to see that Phoebe Gloeckner is blogging a lot again.
Yesterday my coworker Justin and I were discussing this article about the continuing decline of rock radio, and in particular, this quote:
Those within the business cite poor quality music with the sharp decrease in rock listenership and ratings figures.
It is to laugh, we both thought, so we did. After all, if rock radio is dead it's a suicide, without question: The relentless uniformity of the "format" and its aversion to playing all but the surest-things in terms of new music has made it almost entirely worthless. (Oh, how I pine for the days of freeform
.) My friend and I both chuckled because, of course, there's plenty
rock music out there--you just wouldn't know it from listening to your FM dial. Infinity Broadcasting, heal thyself, in other words. But then I got to thinking: Would it really make a difference? K-ROCK could have switched from its usual diet of mook-rock to nonstop LCD Soundsystem and Death Cab for Cutie and freaking Azure Ray 'round the clock, and my guess is its ratings would have gotten even lower.
Sometimes I wonder if the awful stuff really does
choke out the good stuff--if it isn't just that the good stuff is thought of as such by too few people for it to be viable. And sometimes I think that it might be good to keep this in mind when discussing similar issues in other media.
Aside: I've now gotten several recommendations for good radio stations listentable over the Internet thanks to this post on the dearth of good music video shows. So maybe there's some hope.
As it turns out, Citizen X is an excellent film.
Finally, one of my favorite writers on horror, Sam Costello, has good things to say about The Outbreak. Perhaps you will too?
More Caesar's Bath goodness!
And since I've been making a lot of headway with all these Internet-radio suggestions I've been getting, does anyone know of any good music blogs I should be reading? MP3 blogs or review/crit blogs, whatever.
I'm also looking, somewhat desperately, for horrorblogs. Suggest away--the email's to your left.
Blogging will be light this weekend, because, alas, our pirated wireless connection has disappeared. (I'm writing this at the Apple Store, bless its Genius Bar heart.) In the meantime, Bill Sherman has dived into Caesar's Bath. But that's pretty much all I got.
Last night Amy and I went to see Tori Amos play at the Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut. I had a good time, but personally, I just think I'm not the target audience for a Tori Amos concert anymore. I'd seen her once before--in 1995, I believe, after her third album, Boys for Pele, came out. At the time, she'd recorded three albums (Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele), all of which I loved. In the intervening decade, however, she's made two records I didn't like (From the Choirgirl Hotel, To Venus and Back), two records I like but have not listened to that much, particularly compared to the first three albums (Strange Little Girls, Scarlet's Walk), and one record that just came out and I hadn't heard anything from prior to the concert (The Beekeeper). So I was basically attending a concert at which I had no real connection to more than half of the material the artist would be drawing from; a first for me. Also, we went with a posse of people who follow Tori around on tour, some of whom have seen something like 60-80 shows of hers; this also puts a different spin on things versus just picking up a couple of tickets and going to the concert. So I'm afraid I felt at a bit of a loss to evaluate most of the show. Any time she played anything from the first three records, I loved it; four of my favorites from those albums were accounted for ("Beauty Queen/Horses," "Silent All These Years" (remember, if you've only seen two Tori concerts in your entire life and the last one was a decade ago, that song is not overplayed), "Cloud on My Tongue," and "Twinkle"--which, as a matter of fact, was actually played for Amy, who requested it in person before the show in honor of our friend Bobo.). As for the rest of the songs...well, you can certainly appreciate the musicianship and the showmanship--it's pretty impressive to see her play a technically perfect rendition of a song while straddling her piano bench, one hand on the big Bosendorfer on her left, the other on an organ on the opposite side. And I thought her voice was just phenomenal, particularly on lower notes, which seemed to flow right out of her and coat the audience. But I have a very particular set of Tori Amos-based expectations and emotions, and she's different, and her audience is different. I can sit around and say "What about 'Bells for Her' and 'Yes, Anastasia' and 'Doughnut Song' and 'Little Earthquakes'?" all that I want, but would that really be a better show? I want an experience that she's just not going to be able to give me at this point. Which is fine.
Our Internet connection at home is still down. Lousy timing, considering I just resurrected this blog, but we'll get by. So real quick:
As if in response to my recent wond'ring aloud as to why there aren't more horrorblogs, three of the comics blogosphere's most horror-friendly writers, Kevin Melrose, Rick Geerling, and Sam Costello, have joined forces to create Dark, But Shining, a blog dedicated to horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. AWESOME. It's already a daily stop. I'm hoping to participate in some capacity myself soon, so watch this space.
Toriphiles are directed to MollyKnight.com, where the titular Toriphile offers her take on the Tori show I saw this weekend. (No permalinks, inexplicably--look for the April 11th entry.)
Marc Mason, Kent Allard Jr. and Julian Sanchez ease into the warm, welcoming waters of Caesar's Bath.
Finally, here are some songs I've been enjoying over the past couple weeks.
* Tori Amos: Beauty Queen/Horses
* Tori Amos: Doughnut Song
* Tori Amos: Yes, Anastasia
* Azure Ray: Displaced
* Azure Ray: The Drinks We Drank Last Night
* Azure Ray: Sleep
* Beatles: Don't Let Me Down
* Beatles: Taxman
* Black Leotard Front: Casual Friday
* The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Jesus
* Citizens Here & Abroad: Appearances
* Death from Above 1979: Blood on Our Hands
* Death from Above 1979: Romantic Rights (that's right, I changed my mind)
* Doves: Black and White Town
* Doves: Snowden
* Electric Six: Radio Ga-Ga
* J.O.Y.: Sunplus (DFA Remix)
* The Juan Maclean: Give Me Every Little Thing
* LCD Soundsystem: Beat Connection
* M83: Don't Save Us from the Flames
* Roxy Music: Sunset
* The Venus in Furs: 2HB
What're yours? Email's to the left!
Two interesting essays on horror to talk about today.
First, courtesy of Jim Dougan, comes this piece by the Washington Post's Stephen Hunter. Man OH man is Hunter in love with the sound of his own written voice, but that aside it's an interesting enough read, tracing the horror film's evolution through various temporal and generic stages in a fairly comprehensive fashion. (Of course, I've yet to see a piece of this type that doesn't miss at least one major phase; in this case he glosses over the sci-fi anxiety of the '50s.) If you can get through his belabored attempt to argue that the true purpose of horror films is to get teenage boys to second base in the theater--not particularly convincing at least as far as the current crop of horror flicks is concerned; today's kids (and my days kids, come to think of it) are apparently doling out oral with more frequency than handshakes, so who needs to go see The Amityville Horror in order to score?--he makes at least one truly valuable point in tying The Blair Witch Project to the current crop of J-horror–derived formless-menace movies. It's fascinating to me how The Ring, which at this point I think we can say is the influential horror film, is really an almost perfect 50/50 blend of the urban-legend, viral-video horror of Blair Witch and the beautifully shot spooky-kid ghost-story horror of the summer of 1999's other massive out-of-nowhere horror hit, The Sixth Sense. At any rate, I'm pleased to see that the woefully underrated Blair Witch is regaining its rightful spot in the pantheon, something that may never have happened if Hollywood hadn't started remaking Asian horror films. Considering that it was a microbudget American movie shot in Maryland, that's odd, but hey, whatever works.
Next, courtesy of the crew at DBS, comes this impassioned Ken Lowery post. (Is there any other kind?) It's chock full of quoatable goodness, of both the agree and disagree varieties.
There are no pretensions in horror. There are no places to hide. It’s about stripping away your hiding places and becoming your naked, bare-ass self in the face of something bigger and badder than you. There are no defenses. Horror is about stripping away your shields and seeing what’s left.[...]That is DREAD. The feeling of IMPENDING HORROR. IMPLIED menace, as opposed to “gratification” horror that is modern bloodsplattery. Horror that threatens knowingly, the kind of thing that lets you know you are in out of your depth, no one can help you… and as intimately as you know this, so does your predator.
"Naked before the Lidless Eye," as the Witch-King might put it; made to face The Things That Should Not Be
, as I've put it. Amen.
Ken also comes up with the absolutely perfect phrase "WB Stars in Peril" to describe the sort of post-Scream
semi-famous-babe-and-hunk horror flicks that films like Blair Witch, Sixth Sense
, and The Ring
were such an invaluable corrective to. I think he oversteps by bemoaning the abundance of horror films targeted at teenagers, though. Horror films have always
been teen-targeted--since the '50s, almost primarily so. Moreover, I'm generally wary
of "blaming" the sorry state of any given art form on people whose only crime is being 15 years old. When I
was 15, my favorite horror movie was The Shining
, after all.
And I think that the dichotomy between gore and actual horror, while always worth pointing out, is also oversold a bit here. There's a lot more going on in the best horror films than mere violence, a fact that the academy seemed completely oblivious to as recently as five years ago--but unless you're talking about Val Lewton's Cat People, nearly every film you could cite as an example of Ken's "dread and menace, not mechanical frights and splatter" has one or two genuinely nasty moments. To run with his example of The Silence of the Lambs, yes, the chianti and the nightvision and the mask are all memorable, but the jizzlobbing and face-removing and guard-eviscerating and autopsying and cock-tucking and cannibalism were all integral parts of that film's success as horror.
I was also intrigued by Ken's echoed contention that Americanized versions of films like The Ring substitute the Japanese originals' irrational terror for a series of mechanical plot points that drive the narrative like cogs. I think the brilliance of the American Ring lies directly in how it looks like that's what it's doing--"if Rachel can figure out what happened to Samara, the lives of her, her ex, and her child will be saved"--but subverts it at the last moment, revealing that there's no stopping this horror.
Thought-provoking work on a topic about which I enjoy having thoughts provoked.
David Bowie songs I've listened to today:
2. Art Decade
3. Fill Your Heart
4. Little Wonder
5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
6. Ziggy Stardust
7. Slow Burn
8. A Small Plot of Land
9. John, I’m Only Dancing (Saxophone Version)
11. 5:15 The Angels Have Gone
12. The Bewlay Brothers
13. Oh! You Pretty Things
14. I Have Not Been to Oxford Town
15. Thru’ These Architect’s Eyes
16. What in the World
17. A New Career in a New Town
18. The Man Who Sold the World
19. I’m Afraid of Americans (V1)
20. Across the Universe
21. Andy Warhol
23. Word on a Wing
24. Be My Wife
25. Five Years
27. The Last Thing You Should Do
28. Big Brother
29. Red Money
30. The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
31. Little Drummer Boy (w/Bing Crosby)
32. I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship
33. Don’t Bring Me Down
34. We Are the Dead
35. Joe the Lion
36. Sons of the Silent Age
37. See Emily Play
38. Future Legend
39. I’m Deranged
40. She Shook Me Cold
41. I Would Be Your Slave
42. Wild Is the Wind
43. African Night Flight
44. Let’s Spend the Night Together
45. Sound and Vision
46. Because You’re Young
47. I’m Afraid of Americans (V5)
48. Watch That Man
50. Moss Garden
52. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)
53. Young Americans
54. (Don’t Sit Down)
55. Brilliant Adventure
56. Eight Line Poem
58. Under Pressure (w/Queen)
59. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
60. Seven Years in Tibet
61. Sweet Thing
62. Red Sails
63. Kingdom Come
64. The Loneliest Guy
65. Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
66. Segue – Algeria Touchshriek
69. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson
70. Suffragette City
71. Rebel Rebel
Very busy at work plus no net connetion at home equals continued light blogging. When things get back to normal, expect probably a lot more about Tori Amos and zombies and things of that nature. In the meantime you can prepare by listening, really listening, to Little Earthquakes and marveling at how balls-to-the-wall that album is. She holds nothing back, and it’s almost frightening watching that strong an artist emerge. (From a shell made of hairspray, no less.)
In other news, I really hope Sean is okay. This is the longest he’s gone without posting since it started, isn’t it? Do you think something happened to him?
Today's Bowie songs:
72. I’ve Been Waiting for You
75. I Wish You Would
76. Never Get Old
78. Memory of a Free Festival
79. Drive-In Saturday
80. Friday on My Mind
82. Cygnet Committee
84. It Ain’t Easy
85. Letter to Hermione
86. Can You Hear Me
87. The Secret Life of Arabia
88. Leon Takes Us Outside
89. An Occasional Dream
90. Weeping Wall
92. Looking for Water
93. The Dreamers
95. The Prettiest Star
96. Segue – Ramona A. Stone/I Am with Name
97. Battle for Britain (The Letter)
98. Moonage Daydream
101. Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family
102. Running Gun Blues
103. Boys Keep Swinging
104. New Killer Star
105. The Width of a Circle
106. God Knows I’m Good
107. Segue – Nathan Adler
108. Somebody Up There Likes Me
109. Teenage Wildlife
110. All the Madmen
111. Always Crashing in the Same Car
113. A Better Future
114. Shake It
115. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
117. Beauty and the Beast
119. Golden Years
120. Heathen (The Rays)
121. Lady Stardust
122. Velvet Goldmine
124. Try Some, Buy Some
125. Hang On to Yourself
127. Scream Like a Baby
128. Bring Me the Disco King
129. Lady Grinning Soul
Not as many today, both because I finished the project that necessitated the use of headphones which in turn made the iPod shuffle function so attractive, and because I acquired a copy of the new nine inch nails record and listened to that instead. The verdict? Eh. Granted, I was only half-listening to it, and I appreciate that he's still experimenting with texture as he did on the fragile, but still, eh. I'll give it a pay-attention listen on the car ride home and we'll see if it sticks.
That's actually something I've done with every Tori Amos album this week, and I'm glad. It's funny: For a concert that I didn't really like, last Sunday's Hartford gig sure got me thinking about and enjoying Tori Amos again in a way I haven't in literally years. Even the albums I don't particularly care for revealed some hidden highlights during this week's listenings--"Pandora's Aquarium" on Choirgirl, even the electonic meanderings of "Juarez" and "Riot Poof" on Venus.
I also acquired The Beekeeper, finally, and wow! That's a strong set of songs. I find Tori's attempts at getting her groove on cringe-inducing at times, and alas there's quite a bit of that on this record. But ("Cars and Guitars" aside) these are frequently redeemed by a clever lyric (is "Ireland's" line about "driving in my Saab" stupid or brilliant? I say BRILLIANT!) or inventive structuring (that rapidly cascading torrent of lyrics in "Witness"). She's also ponied up some of the strongest straightforward melodies in her long and storied career--"The Power of Orange Knickers" is hauntingly direct, "Goodbye Pisces" is Little Earthquakes beautiful and intimate, and the mantra-like conclusion of "Barons of Suburbia" ("I'm piecing a potion to combat your poison") brings nothing to mind so much as "Give me life / give me pain / give me my self again." I like this album a great deal, and as is often the case it's making me go back and rediscover moments I'd overlooked on past albums.
But I still think I like those first three records the best. The indelible melodies became a lot fewer and further between from Choirgirl onward; moreover, there's an edge of darkness and rage--a chill in the air, as it were--that dissipated as Tori went into matronly earth-goddess mode on subsequent albums. I like "bleak," as a general rule, and those first three albums have it in spades. (I also think that their art direction has something to do with it--bright whites, icy silvers and cool blues dominated. True, Choirgirl was black, but the music was round and bubbly like a shaken-up soda and it didn't quite gel. No thanks for Venus's purple, and now we're into an orange-y, road-trip-through-cornfields tending-my-garden phase. No wonder Strange Little Girls, with its silver background, revived my interest!)
What I wanted to say about Little Earthquakes is simply that it's so openly confessional and confrontational that it's stunning, almost overpowering. In rapid succession she addresses herself, girls, her boyfriend, boys generally, her father, faith, relationships, sex, her mother, her idols, her rapist (it's easy to overlook that at this point, so it bears repeating: her rapist), and back to herself. You can feel the years of frustration crack away like an eggshell as with absolute conviction, urgency, and unselfconsciousness she sings her heart.
I'd very much like to see more Tori concerts, to make a long story short.
Bill Sherman and Ken Lowery continue discussing the horror State of the Union.
Finally, looks like things are okay with Sean. Relatively.
I have revised my opinion about the new nine inch nails record, with teeth. It is no longer an "eh"--it's a "hey, that's really good except for those two momentum-killing stinkers he saddled it with!" And those would be "every day is exactly the same" and "the line begins to blur." Both songs' titles give you some idea of how you feel upon listening to them. I got bored quick, and I'm a person who loved the fragile, which other NIN fans of my acquaintance have referred to as the boring, so that should maybe tell you something. Anyway, I'd recommend it.
Not recommended: Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. If you're looking for the bigwinner of the "Who Can Most Slavishly Imitate K-Tel's Classic Post-Punk Hits of the late '70s and Early '80s?" contest, here you are. I spent the whole time thinking, "What, do they think we are unable to download Gang of Four albums?" Almost entirely superfluous, and I think the huge wave of critical support they're earning says a lot about record critics and how happy they are that they finally have something dour, humorless and Important-Sounding to support amidst the Franz Ferdinands and Fischerspooners of this big '80s revival we find ourselves in. However, as my friend Josiah pointed out to me, his voice does sound an awful lot like Damon Albarn's more heavily accented moments circa Parklife, and since Damon himself has been unlistenable for the past few years, it does have that to recommend it.
Line of the day: "If I was not me, I would hate me too." Fischerspooner, "Never Win."
Supposedly Tori Amos covered "By My Side" from Godspell last night. Holy shit. Ugh, holy moses, I'm getting chills just thinking of it. (I am the biggest Godspell fan this side of the members of the State.)
Hey, doesn't the State sound like the name of a retro-rock band? Like a group that only plays analog synths and is signed to Sympathy for the Record Industry or something?
David Jones reviews David Bowie! I know Bowie had heretofore pretty much disowned his live albums David Live and Stage, so I'm surprised to see them re-emerge. And I'm thrilled that Stage has been resequenced to represent the playing order of the actual concert; the original album's songs were rearranged in chronological order of the original songs' release, an odd and project-defeating choice. On to the Amazon wish list with you!
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I am a recurring character on my brother-in-law's podcast, Air Ferg. I feature rather prominently in the latest episode if I'm not mistaken, so download accordingly.
I think that's everything.
If these posts have felt rushed and disjointed lately, it's because they are: My net access is limited these days so I'm blogging in a hurry. Hopefully this will be rectified soon, but I'm not holding my breath. I hope you'll tough it out with me.
Okay, now I can't stop listening to with teeth. I've talked myself into really enjoying it a great deal. True, Trent is no longer at the vanguard of rock development--gone are the days where Spin would list him as the most vital artist in the industry. And the electroclashy moments, though naturally I enjoy the hell out of them, are more follower than leader. (O'course, he was there before them--you could slide "Ringfinger" into any Larry Tee DJ set you'd care to.) But as a whole it propels along with a crunchy glee. Even "every day is exactly the same" is starting to grow on me in its ploddingly catchy fashion; I just wish it did something unexpected at some point, like the wonderfully weird dance-rock of "Only" or that terrific dental-drill guitar(?) in "Sunspots." Well, one thing I (re)discovered yesterday is that it sure feels great to roll down a suburban street with your car windows open, blasting a song that says "fuck" a lot.
Rose Curtin comments on the harmful effects of glib rape references, even when those references are made in ostensible protest of other glib rape references. The post is worth reading in its entirety and so I'm not going to run the risk of summarizing it by commenting upon it here. I will say that it reminds me that with the death of Dworkin, there are issues far more worth thinking about than debating whether or not Dworkin herself was a reactionary paranoiac.
Number of New York area radio stations that played mostly new alternative rock in 1994: Five (92.3 K-ROCK, 92.7 WDRE, 100.3 Z-100, 102.7 WNEW, 104.3 Q-104.3)
Number of New York area radio stations that play mostly new alternative rock now: Zero
(Blogging likely to remain sparse until the home-internet situation is fixed, which doesn't look to be any time soon. Just F y'all's I.)
Question: What kind of idiot would argue that Trent Reznor's angst on the fragile felt phony and forced whereas his angst on with teeth constitutes "music we can believe in"?
Answer: The kind of idiot who writes cover stories for Spin!
It's really fascinating to watch the critical consensus backtrack and rewrite itself Nineteen Eighty-Four-style. (This is what enables every Prince record to be his comeback, every David Bowie album to be the only one worth listening to since Scary Monsters, and The Blair Witch Project to once again be one of the best horror movies ever made now that The Ring uses videotape.) In this particular Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia incident, the author points out that Spin named the fragile the Best Album of 1999, but then goes on to say it's a plodding, by-the-numbers affair that didn't really deserve the accolade. I've seen this notion reflected in any number of reviews for with teeth, used to praise wt's (let's put this politely) somewhat straightforward approach to songcraft as opposed to the fragile's legendarily obsessive construction. Boo, hiss. Not only is this a manifestation of Woody Allen style Earlier, Funnier Stuffitis (albeit in chronological reverse), it rejects earlier acknowledgements of the depth, intelligence, and beauty of the fragile pretty much solely because the album didn't sell very well whereas with teeth's nu-rock-radio-friendly singles-in-waiting will probably do just fine. (Again, many reviewers have all but acknowledged this, and this feature's no exception.) Blecch.
Interestingly (to me), I listened to the fragile today and it holds up unbelievably well, much better than I thought it might given my headspace now versus then. When listened to in headphones many tracks have an odd tendency to break into their constituent parts, almost like you can see the ProTools strings, but for my money that only enhances the insular man-and-his-madness transmission quality of the record.
For your listening pleasure tonight (or until the ATF triumvirate sees what I'm doing, whatever), I present three chills-inducing Tori Amos live covers.
Father Figure (George Michael)--from her concert in San Francisco a couple of nights ago. Sexy.
Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues) One of my favorite songs, by my parents' favorite band. Gorgeous, dead-on vocals and piano on this one--ooh, just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
Purple Rain (Prince)--This tune (which served as, shall we say, "inspiration" for Tori's song "Hey Jupiter" off Boys for Pele) is a perennial favorite amongst Toriphiles, but the version I've uploaded is one I hadn't heard until recently. Rather than play it on her grand piano, she went with a harmonium instead, which is a very different and somehow more intimate vibe. There's also some lovely, soaring guitar, just before those killer high notes.
More to come, if Ken, Ben, and Ton don't yell at me.
You know comics are a big pop-culture deal when jokes about the supposed pretentiousness of the term "graphic novels" are made in Levi's commercials.
I'm sort of surprised by the amount of radioblogging I've done since I kicked ADDTF back into gear, as I don't really ever listen to the radio. Well, not to music radio, anyway--Imus in the Morning on WFAN 660 AM on the drive to work, and a few minutes of WCBS News Radio 880 AM (just long enough to catch the traffic and maybe a few of the headline stories) on the ride home.
But what you may not know (ooh! Secret Origin time!) is that I used to be a radio DJ, way back in the day, at WYBC 94.3FM New Haven, Yale's old frequency. I had a weekly show (mostly poppier industrial, the big English electronic-music acts of the mid-to-late '90s, that sort of thing) that was cancelled, along with all of the station's rock, alternative, blues, and folk programming, when a couple of nitwits with aspirations of becoming big radio suits upon graduation staged a coup d'etat, locked us all out of the station, and replaced us with a semi-pro "urban contemporary" format. So the Great Homogenization hits close to home, you know?
Anyway, the great Jim Henley points to this NYT article on the continuing death of alt-rock radio. It's interesting for several reasons:
1) It informed me that Philly's Y-100, my Delaware-native wife's source for Weezer and Live and Garbage and such back when we were courting, is now all-talk. Another one bites the dust.
2) It centers on how alt-rock radio's transition into the exclusive preserve of male-oriented mook-rock since the Limp Bizkit explosion has cost it listeners but bad. It certainly cost them me, but one thing I hadn't thought of in these specific terms is how many women it must have cost them, too. As Jim reminds us, time was you could hear quite a few female artists on alt-rock stations--I think he's being a little generous with his list, as I can't ever remember hearing P.J. Harvey on the radio, but he's not wrong generally. I'll see him and raise by adding that most alt-rock (new rock, really) stations didn't just not play female acts, but avoided as much as possible playing acts that were even remotely feminine. The Postal Service, for example, has apparently sold 500,000 records, but to the best of my knowledge K-ROCK never went near 'em; and I'm always stunned to hear the likes of Franz Ferdinand or Interpol on stations like that (the few that still exist). (Heck, my guess is that this is the reason Franz never relased the unbelievably awesome and very queer "Michael" as a single.) I can't help but be reminded of another infuriating winnowing of acceptable songs during the death of free-form, as chronicled vividly in Richard Neer's excellent book FM: In a similarly misguided effort to "give the listeners what they want," the suits back then slowly stripped black musicians out of rock playlists, so on rock stations where you'd once hear everyone from Miles Davis to P-Funk to the Temptations, you now pretty much only hear Jimi Hendrix (and occasionally Phil Lynott, but no one I know seems to realize that he's black). You've probably noticed that this radio segregation continued even during the heydey of mook-rock radio, wherein, despite the heavy influence of hip-hop on the music, the only hip-hop acts you'd hear were the Beastie Boys and Eminem, with the occasional rock-y Cypress Hill (1/3 black, 1/3 white, 1/3 Latino) track thrown in on a lark. (This despite the exhiliaratingly alternative music being made by everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to the Wu-Tang Clan.) When women, and indeed any men not content with music that presents women in much the same way as the Howard Stern Show that occupied the morning slot on a great many new-rock stations, were were written out of the equation as well, you have a recipe for demographic disaster, it would seem.
How can alternative rock radio recover? It probably can't. As I've said before, even if stations were to start playing actual good music tomorrow, my guess is their listenership would probably continue to plummet. Meanwhile, the type of listener who wants to hear Death Cab for Cutie or the Faint is likely savvy enough to have explored the many new-media venues for this, from iTunes to Acquisition to music blogs to podcasts to Internet radio to satellite radio to TiVo'ing the three hours' worth of good music-video shows left on the TV. In the world of the iPod, quirky radio is almost redundant.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.