The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
A Folksy review by Sean M. Hebner
Exclusively written for
4 “Whosawhatsits” out of 5
Welcome to the first installment of “IT CAME…FROM MY WIFES CD WALLET!” This is a series where I’ll randomly take a CD from my beautiful wife Loretta’s collection and give it an honest listen and review.
I should point out that my wife and I have vastly different tastes in music. This will create the cognitive dissonance required to create a HILARIOUS review. Also, when I try to take an unbiased approach to music, I don’t generally have an emotional attachment to it which helps me become a REAL writer!
However, I’ll admit that this particular review is kind of cheating. I’ve been a fan of Folk and Filk music as long as I can remember. One of the first tapes I ever enjoyed as a child (that wasn’t Weird Al or Elton John) was Bay Filk 3, which was recorded in 1983 and featured a younger Mercedes Lackey (on backing vocals on one song) and an aging Peter S. Beagle (author of “The Llast Unicorn”). My mother owned the tape as it featured my former Cousin MEW (www.mewsic.com). Little did my mom know, that my eventual lust for Power Metal and other Folk infused genres of music would stem almost exclusively from this tape.
I say all this to imply that “Civil Wars” is a Folk album. I happen to like it a lot, thank you. Every spin of this record brings out new, exciting positives. The lyrics are a “joy” (HA GET IT!? This album is depressing!), a great mixture of classically influenced Folk and modern, poetic explorations of poetry. You could probably use some of these lyrics in a poetry class. They’re THAT GOOD. Take their single “Poison and Wine,” for example.
“Poison and Wine”*
I find it rare that a song so bitter and honest gets main stream air play. “Poison and Wine” has been referred to as Country and I can see why: once upon a time, this genre was this depressing:
I don’t love you and I always will
I don’t love you and I always will
I don’t love you and I always will
Editor/Boss-man Eric doesn’t know it yet but I’m going to make him cry again. (Editor/Boss-man Eric: Manliness challenge accepted)
I’ m fairly close to crying as I type this. That’s some lyrical heaviness neither of us has encountered since “The Magnetic Fields.” I’m sure Eric has heard more depressing lyrics, but perhaps not something we’ve been mutually exposed too.
Anyway, “Poison and Wine” starts out with the line “You only know what I want you to/I know everything you don’t want me to” and there is only a grand total of like 50 words to the song …and yet it instantly brings to mind relationships from my past. Specifically, dysfunctional relationships where the words “power balance” didn’t exist and from which the pain long dissipated is temporarily restored by these potent lyrics. Thankfully, they indirectly teach me to never repeat those mistakes and should a legitimately REAL problem arise in my marriage to just frickin’ TALK about it. This paragraph brought to you by Life©, ain’t it somthin’? (Editor/Boss-man Eric: life is the only thing worth living for)
Hope, the only thing left at the bottom of “Pandora’s Box” as a way to combat the evils of the world, feels in short supply on this album. I mean it IS here. However, the duo broke up last year only to reunite to make a new album this year, but they will NOT tour.
It seems that one member wants to get famous and the other wants to be a non-sellout. All the turmoil in the band has me thinking that the hope that’s tucked within this album is more superficial than I realized. For a duo this powerful to give up after existing since only 2008, it’s a wonder that they even lasted this long. I’ve found no information to tell which one wanted to end it and which one wanted to take off …your guess is as good as mine.
Not that I like proving my wife wrong about stuff, but while writing this review I told her “wow this is a really ‘hopeless’ album!” Of course, she immediately said “NO ITS NOT!”
The marriage argument game had begun! I countered her witty retort with my own, elucidating that “okay, maybe not ‘hopeless’ but it’s fairly dark…”
Then, I decided to look up the lyrics to the rest of the songs just to see if my instincts on the album were correct. Ammunition is important in this vital arguments, my friend. If you’re married, I know you’re nodding your head in agreement, male or female.
Well anyway, the first track is about a deadbeat father who, after 20 years, won’t claim responsibility for a child from a one night stand. Boom.
The title track “Barton Hallow” is about a man wanted for Murder in…heh, heh…Barton Hallow. He is never going back to the place that was once his home town. Boom boom.
In fact, reading through the lyrics revealed three songs focused on unrequited love, murder, regret, prostitution or just plain loneliness. Mostly Hopeless. Three out of 14 tracks is A LOT of dark….and I LOVED every minute of it.
Heck we can even dabble in cover songs that they did to see if their overall mood as a duo is better when being “casual.” Nope. The Civil Wars covered Portishead’s song “Sour Times” and Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, another song about denial of parental responsibility. They are a tour de force of depressing and heartbreaking heartbreakyness.
“My heart, in the parking garage, with the guitar…you win Civil Wars”
What can I conclude about this venture into my wife’s CD wallet? First of all, my wife’s favorite band is freaking awesome. However, I’m not surprised that they aren’t sustainable. Country music fans dip their toe into the depressing aspects of real life, but tend to confine them only to Johnny Cash or Willie or some other old hat star.
A new group that puts out Cash caliber depression doesn’t really work (at least as a business model) in a world of Brad Paisley or Taylor Swifts.
Yeah, Taylor Swift is mad, but she’s adorable, adorably mad with still less issues than one ALBUM from a duo that’s a bit older and a bit worse for wares. Lastly, my wife thinks this band deserves a seven out of five on the “Whosawhatsits” scale. I’m thinking she’s right…this is some of the best stuff if not THE best Main Line Country music…nay Main Stream Music period has produced in the last 5 years. So I’ve changed my original score to match her request because it really is that good.
Tune in next week when I do, some more METAL YEAH! Goodnight!
Jonathan Brodsky wants you to know all about the worst music you’ll ever hear. Join him on a magical mystery tour through the world of Gerogerigegege.
Have you ever pooped?
By golly, I have!
To be absolutely honest, I really enjoy defecating; I don’t know if that means that I’d enjoy a man’s penis going in and out of there – in fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t (a woman’s penis, on the other hand…) -, but the act of passing stool through my colon and out my rectum has served as a very relaxing and pleasurable pastime for me, granted I’m within close proximity of a clean, available bathroom. And yes, I did call it a pastime: between my irritable bowel syndrome and my irregular body clock, number two is probably my number one favourite daily occurrence. I even downloaded a little iPhone app the other day that keeps track – via GPS, of course – of all the places that I lay cable. I can’t wait to start using it.
But it’s never only about the experience: the result stands for something, too. I’d go so far as to say that I’m incredibly proud of some of the movements I’ve composed (compost?) over the years: I’ve even taken pictures of several of the more notable ones, though most of them – like the abstract blasts of feces depicted therein – have been flushed away by time and circumstance, but the fond memories remain. Many a spicy dinner has left its stain on my porcelain kingdom, the capsaicin and habanero extracts dancing a fiery tango in the ballroom of my anus with such fervour that, in their wake, they leave behind a surprisingly potent waft of steam. This is more than poetry or artful expression: this is the aftermath of my eating a pound of Armageddon (very much a proper noun in these circumstances) wings at Duff’s. And that will stay with me and anyone unfortunate enough to be using an adjacent stall for many years to come.
So, yes, as we’ve ascertained, I’m not above the occasional Excregram® (wait for it: it will be a thing), but how far would I be willing to take the posterity of my posterior? Without divulging too much, pretty damn far, but the one avenue upon which I just wouldn’t be able to muster creating any work of sincere conviction involving my rectal waste would be in my music. Oh, I’m not at all fond of the songs I used to write, but I’m speaking more literally.
“But Jonathan,” nobody said, “wouldn’t incorporating crap into your music be a really original thing to do?”
“But, Jonathan’, nobody continued, “GG Allin only ever shat as part of his act: he never incorporated it into his songwriting.”
And while this is true, I am not here today to write about GG Allin (although I did see the Murder Junkies this week, and that Dino Sex can sure take a pair of drumsticks up the ass).
No; today, we’re going to take a trip to Japan, where weirdness is as commonplace as the nuclear fallout that in all likelihood precipitated it. Particularly, we’re going to take an imaginary trip to the seedy Shinjuku district of Tokyo in the 1980s, where one of the most egregious, challenging, and boundary-pushing artists of our or any time hails from. I am, of course, talking about Juntaro Yamanouchi, noise experimenter and cross-dresser extraordinaire, and his remarkably diverse anti-art project, The Gerogerigegege.
The Gerogerigegege (pronounced ‘gerro-gary-gay-gay-gay’) – literally ‘simultaneously vomiting and vacating one’s bowels’ – was conceived in 1985 by Mr. Yamanouchi as an outlet for the art influenced by his experiences working as an entertainer in the homosexual S&M clubs in the aforementioned Shinjuku region. The early work released under the name hinted at their future, with 1985’s self-titled cassette hosting two sides of abstract noise and 1987’s Showa LP (housed in a sleeve which depicted a portrait of the then-recently departed Hirohito) featuring the Japanese national anthem followed by nearly 40 minutes of audio sourced from a Japanese pornographic videotape. Even their most traditionally musical offering, a 1988 7″ record of surprisingly slick rock music entitled “Sexual Behavior In The Human Male’, interspersed its relative convention with audio verité recordings of ‘senzuri’ – the Japanese colloquialism for ‘male masturbation’ – being carried out by a middle-aged man that Juntaro met and befriended whilst working together in the underground sex trade.
While other collaborators came and went, most fans agree that the core members of the Gerogerigegege were Juntaro Yamanouchi and this older gentleman who, although born Tetsuya Endoh, preferred to go by the title of Gero 30 (the number coming from how many years older he was than Juntaro). Gero 30 was (at the height of the Gerogerigegege’s activity) a fellow in his mid 50s who was no stranger to the urolagnia and scat-play that enticed the audiences who flocked in droves to Tokyo’s red light district. While Juntaro was the conceptualist behind the Gero’s many varied works, it was Gero 30 who best encapsulated and brought to life the sexual motivations behind the outfit’s work: regardless of how Juntaro was expressing himself at any given moment or phase of the band’s career, fans could always rely on Gero 30 as a constantly masturbating anchor, holding down the band’s perverse and subversive ideologies with a flick (or a thousand flicks) of his imaginably tired wrist(s).
And so it was that among their myriad concerts, manifestos, and recordings that 1993’s rather innocuous-looking Night 7″ was released as a vinyl-only edition of 500 on the German Ant-Zen imprint. Aesthetically, it was in keeping with many of their other seven-inch releases: the same year’s Yellow Trash Bazooka boasted 80 ‘songs’ (read: blasts of unintelligible noise) across its 13-minute runtime, only distinguishable by the title announcements separating them. Mother Fellatio – also from 1993 – was similar in execution, albeit with an infinitely lesser sense of where the 84 tracks it claims to host across its 12-minute length begin and end.
Night, by comparison, appears very terse: the monochromatic sleeve with its near-congruent layout suggests that these 7″ records are part of a series, but this entry appears to be the odd man out of the trilogy: where 164 songs are alleged to exist between the other entries, Night provides only one track per side – Night T2 – T4 and Night T3 – T1, respectively. Are these two ‘pieces’ merely the same territories of grindcore being explored, albeit at a more epic length, or are these just more multi-track suites of the Gero’s binary ‘on-off’ noise that Juntaro merely couldn’t be bothered to individually name?
The needle drops and we wait. It catches the wax and we hear the familiar crackle of the pre-groove, followed by Juntaro’s requisite and now-familiar introductory bellow of ‘one, two, sree, foah!’, and then…
Even the band’s fans – flexible, open-minded, and challenge-craving by the very nature of their self-identification as Gero fans – are torn: not only between the validity of what they’re hearing as enjoyable or even ‘art’, but as to what is happening. The liner notes themselves give no hints, only stating that the contents were recorded on August 15th of no particular year in Tokyo and that the sounds we hear were produced live without additional overdubbing.
Although some fans surmise that the sounds we hear on this record (and although both sides contain unique aural content, they’re pitching a similar trajectory) are that of Juntaro noisily performing fellatio on Gero 30, the more common consensus is that our favourite senzuri champion is perhaps adhering to part of the band’s name a little too literally for most of our comfort by going so far as to actually record themselves taking an extended shit. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be an engineer at a recording studio in Japan and have to contend with the eccentricities of acts like these: perhaps it comes as no surprise that the liner notes don’t list the name of the engineer who helped commit this curiosity to tape.
And as for who is voiding themselves (if that is indeed what’s going on), the liner notes suggest that Mr. Yamanouchi is the performer, but I think the biggest clue – not only as to who is carrying out the ‘accident’, but what exactly is going on – can be taken from the sleeve itself, which appears to show Gero 30 on his knees whilst wearing an expression of visible strain on his face… as well as a diaper. While 1992’s More Shit EP saw Gero proudly granting themselves the title of ‘Japanese Ultra Shit Band’, Night‘s cover image is likely the most confirmation that we’ll ever get of their ostensibly taking the designation to extremes that seem uncomfortable by even their benchmark: the endless rustling of a soiled adult diaper is a bit much for even me to take at some points, so I can only imagine how squeamish most of the population would feel if faced with this.
Gero’s anti-music sound art is not a unique phenomenon – especially in Japan. They were not the first or even the biggest act to strip away whatever limited musicality the industrial and power-electronics movements were hiding in pursuit of abrasive textures or taboo imagery, but they were certainly an act that put a rare priority on diversity and unpredictability: each of their nearly three-dozen releases has distinguishable characteristics that make them easily identifiable: any noise neophyte can tell you how incredibly rare this is, and given that their care to demarcate their works is notable among the myriad acts of this ilk, even Gero’s detractors can agree that they are not your average noise punishers.
Whether setting a homeless man’s rambling to aleatoric piano odysseys (as on Endless Humiliation) or subjecting what is assumed to be an self-oscillating guitar tuner to heavy phasing (None Friendly), not every record was an endless series of electronic clashes, thrashes, and bashes. And given the space of 250 Merzbow albums that are little more than deviations of the above, Gero’s exponential sound traversals, given an eighth of Masami Akita’s discographic occupation, were a welcome and refreshing change of pace in the Japanoise scene. Where others claim to be experimental but fall into a deluge of the same discomforting routine, The Gerogerigegege are one of the few acts in any genre or period of music that truly own and herald the term.
Whether you enjoy this record – whether it can even truly be enjoyed! – it still provides more fun and intrigue in its 8 pungent minutes than Jimmy Buffett has across 43 years of boring island schlock.
And regardless of what you think of Night, we can all still agree that it’s shit.
The Top 5 Weirdest Older Judas Priest Music Videos
A List by Sean M. Hebner
Written exclusively for Culture Fusion Reviews
While researching my “Painkiller” review last week, I came to a realization: Judas Priest is weird as fuck. This became especially obvious to me when I was compiling a list of “Weird Metal Music Videos” and I realized that most of them are all from the same band…Judas Priest. Welcome to part one of a potentially ongoing list of weird metal shit. Today, we focus on the “Top Five Weirdest Judas Priest Music Videos.” Who knows where we’ll go from here.
Just for the record I like/love all of these songs and I’m not critiquing the music, lyrics or performance. Yes, I even love the song that appeared on Bennet the Sage’s “Bad Songs by Good Bands” list. Sit back, relax, and bask in the manly glory that is Judas Priest and their strange obsessions.
The first time I saw this video, “music piracy” was called “sharing” and dial up was the only connection available. My little brother Kyle “shared” this video when he was about 11 or 12. Amusingly, it appears to be the only video that follows the plot to the song. “Hot Rockin’” is about pumping iron and going out. And yep, there’s Rob Halford doing manly pushups while the rest of the band works out behind him with their shirts off. So THAT’s what hot rocking is!
I’ve never seen the video from beginning to end. My current living situation is without reliable internets, which takes me back to me and my brother’s childhood of stopping the video due to laughing too hard.
OHHH internets working now…POCKET SAND!
This one clocks in at number five as it starts out weird and ends kinda relatively normal. I’d rate this video on my “Whosawhatsit” scale at 2 ½ because it would be a little dull without the song being SUPER awesome. But come on, this song is a Proto-Metal anthem which set up a legacy for the ENTIRE Genre of Heavy Metal. Gods bless you Rob Halford, Gods bless you!
#4-Got Another Thing Comin’
At first, this one feels out of place but a slight hint of weirdness oozes out from the beginning. A dude with a briefcase is walking about the place and is totally out of place. Pretty weird right? Not convinced? Skip to the end last 30 seconds: Rob Halford’s manliness gave him FUCKING SUPER POWERS!
He can blow up heads and drop pants at the same FUCKING TIME!!! I can hear the gang now as the obvious dummy’s pants fall down and they all laugh till they pee themselves. I know I had a good chuckle watching that unfold. I also want to point out the MANLY arm THRUSTS he uses to summon his Hidden superpower of HEAD EXPLODY!
Overall, and in spite of the amazing HEAD EXPLOSION I’d give this video a solid 2 on my “Whosawhatsit” scale as it takes a bit too long to get to the best part. But boy, is it the best.
Now, this music video is really funny! Let’s go point by point here: first, there’s the printed “freewheel burning” on the side of the F1 Machine; there’s the amazing solo in the background while the kid plays “Missile Command”; and who can forget the Pac-Man sound effects at the beginning? Am I listening to Pac-Man Fever all of a sudden? I wish!
Best of all, they put that Surgeon General warning at the end about Heavy Metal being hazardous to your health. Obviously, but what about Rob Halfords invading your video games? That seems more scary than the power of metal.
I mean, why does Rob hate little chubby boys? He follows this poor chubster through two video games to end his life-force! I know: Rob has FUTURE SIGHT (of course he does, the man has more random super powers than Superman) and he must have seen that the kid was going to be a future Hitler or something!
I’d also rate this video a solid 4 “Whosawhatsits” out of 5 as its cool and the people who watch it are cool.
#2- Turbo Lover
Freaky…everything is shot in negative in the background. Do you know what that means?!?! DYSTOPIAN FUTURE bitches!
And Rob unveils another super power: TIME TRAVEL. Group time travel at that as he’s still surrounded by his clearly bewildered band maates.
You may question why Rob Halford would time travel to a dystopian future but there’s only one possible answer: he has traveled forward in time to bring the MULLET and the gift of dance to… skeleton-robot-things!?
Sure. Why not? Rob’s hair is strange in this video. His hair has never been truly unruly but his random MULLET adds to the weirdness of this video.
Other than that, and thanks again to crappy internet, I rate this video a whopping 3 “Whosawhatsits” out of five cause it’s fun to watch but not super exciting.
This one is a winner! We’re still in the same universe from the “Turbo Lover” video in which Halford, the bastion of Manliness that he is, is kidnapped by sexy ladies who want him to dance into their pants.
Wait…they aren’t wearing pants. Uh . . . so they want to sex him up? Good luck with that.
I love how devil may care the band is while breaking him out. Their attitude seems to be one of “this happens ALL the time.” I’m quite sure it did: the wave of heavy metal singer kidnapping by deliriously horny groupies jumped over 10,000% after this video! Which is to say, it multiplied the previous amount of “zero” by “10,000.” Math is hard.
Anyways. Beyond the hot kidnapping babes, we got a skeleton bugging his eyes out and generally being a useless waste of video budget. Nah, I take that back: its hilarious and only enhances the insanity of the video.
Honestly, the skeleton and his pals alone boost this video up to a 4 ½ on my “Whosawhatsit” scale.
So what did we learn today kiddies? Well, Rob Halford is a super hero with the power to WOO women despite finding them sexually repulsive! He can also see into and then TRAVEL through time! He’s got the super strength needed to do lots of Push-Ups to the beat of pulse pounding music! And obviously…he can EXPLODE heads and remove pants! AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!
Someone should write a comic book about him.
Tune in next week where I tackle a CD from my wife’s collection in an attempt to teach myself to be a REAL writer! Goodnight!
Edwin Oslan touches on the existence of white supremacist rock bands (don’t worry, he’s against them, as is everyone on the site) focusing specifically on a rather…odd band’s interactions with the king of scum sucking white supremacist lunatics: Tom Metzger.
Note: I initially wrote this piece before doing full research. After I did I found that Nicholas Schreck had made a couple of appearance on Tom Metzger’s show and expressed disturbing views that seem to suggest he supports some form of white supremacy along with his wife Zeena (daughter of Anton LaVay).
Shortly after, they formed the Abraxis foundation and staged a Satanic/Fascist rally on 8-8-88, renounced any Social Darwinist viewpoints and became Buddhists. While it’s touching to know they allegedly no longer follow a fascist mindset, that didn’t stop them from releasing a Radio Werewolf CD called The Vinyl Solution, containing a bunch of outtakes and still acting like a couple of humorless, pseudo-intellectual buffoons.
Oh and if you want Nicholas Schreck to give you religious mentoring, feel free to send him $100 for his hour long mentoring sessions!
Dangerous Minds posted an article on Facebook about when it seemed okay for goth groups to go onto white supremacist Tom Metzger’s cable access show Race and Reason. I was already aware that Boyd Rice dabbled in fascism. He has never blatantly made it clear which side he stands on; he never expressed any particular hatred for any group of people yet at the same time apparently enjoys praising some of history’s most notorious offenders under the assumption that might makes right. His music has been released by big level independent labels like Mute and he has a relatively large following in the neo goth/noise/neo folk electronic scene, where lot of those people blatantly express racist views.
Furthermore it should be noted that these aren’t like your standard Neo-Nazi skinheads who sing hardcore punk or metal songs about killing minorities. These so-called “neo goth/noise/industrial” groups consider themselves artists and intellectuals who reject liberal ideals and justify the atrocities committed on humanity as the natural order of things.
It seems pretty crazy right?
However, the early industrial scene was all about transgressing moral taboos. Throbbing Gristle wore military uniforms and sang songs with names like “Zyklon B Zombie,” sang about the Moores murders, “the hamburger lady” and performed a called “United” which quotes various serial killers.
Is it art? Eh, I dunno. I like reading true crime books too so, I can’t say. These artists were dark and disturbing but never appeared racist.
Boyd Rice’s appearance on Metzger’s talk show and his association with “racially aware” groups like Skrewdriver and Death In June caused many to dismiss him as a racist. But then again, his music is usually a bunch of experimental noise. The piece he did with Current 93 was actually pretty cool to these ears. I can’t say if he’s a racist or some bogus “social Darwinist” but this leads me to the whole point of this article: Radio Werewolf.
When Radio Werewolf appeared on Race and Reason, I was completely prepared for members Nicholas Shrek and Evil Wilhelm to make statements similar to Rice about being “racially aware” and explaining the different ways to indoctrinate the youth. But I got something so much better!
I’d never heard of Radio Werewolf prior to seeing this clip but I immediately downloaded the album The Fiery Summons after finishing the video. Hearing Shrek sing the phrase “the final cleansing” should raise a red racist and fascist flag.
However, the entire album is a minimalist collection of minor chords played on church organs with Nicholas Shrek moaning about “the circle being complete” and “the werewolf order” in what can only be described as a “vampire” voice.
In fact “March of the Werewolf Order” has no music; it’s just Schrek chanting a strange werewolf anthem. It’s both silly and tedious.
So, when Nicholas Shrek and Evil Wilhelm appeared on Metzger’s show, they gave him possibly the greatest interview I’d ever seen. The whole scenario is bizarre. Like I said, I thought Shrek and Wilhelm were going to talk about “racial identity.”
First of all the appearance of Schreck and Wilhelm should immediately cause a chuckle; both are completely pail and dressed like vampires. Wilhelm has a monocle which he keeps adjusting over the course of the interview. Oh, that’s right; HIS NAME IS EVIL WILHEM!!! At first I thought he was just born with an unfortunate name. But clearly that’s not the case.
During the interview, Schreck (German for “terror”) describes the “Werewolf Order” and how they plan on recruiting the youth through their music. Schreck’s instrument is the “licanthropicord” and the group doesn’t perform gigs; they hold Werewolf Youth Party meetings. This is all punctuated by the fact that Schreck is speaking with a straight face the entire time and Wilhelm occasionally chimes in to clarify.
When asked when the group started, the answer is, “in 1984, the year of the werewolf.” The group’s purpose?; “to define and spread fear and terror” and to” weed out the weak.” Are they Nazis? Nope. They are beyond Nazis and other mortal labels. When asked who can join their “order”, they say, that they decide the criteria of who joins.
But they never define any criteria!
Needless to say I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. Now Tom Metzger is obviously a horrible human being with vile beliefs but it was amusing watching him look confused while trying to make heads or tails of the bizarre duo.
Were they white supremacists? They never said so! They said they are beyond such mortal labels! My guess is that these guys are having a laugh.
It should also be noted that when Nicholas Schreck appeared on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael addressing Satanism, his performance seems a lot less staged. He could very well be a Satanist and made some vaguely controversial statements about Charles Manson and Hitler. Watch this clip on Sally and let me know what you think! His part starts about halfway through but you might enjoy looking at Anton LaVay’s attractive daughter first.
All things come to an end. And thankfully, all things come to a beginning. Chris Harry, the newest contributor for Culture Fusion ponders the eternal question of beginnings and endings and decides upon a single point of origin: Goat.
Where to begin. Where to begin.
I listened to this about 5 days ago for the first time. I’ve been on a long Grateful Dead trip for the past few months, but for some reason I felt like acting on a suggestion my friend Adam has made to me multiple times. Jesus Lizard. Jesus Lizard.
I listened to Then Comes Dudley on Youtube around a month or so ago, but it didn’t click with me. I’ve since listened to Goat. On repeat. For the past 5 days. I mean, I’ve been listening to other stuff. I even bought the new Boards of Canada. But, my god. I don’t want to know how many times I’ve listened to this album.
Where to begin.
So, they’re from Austin, formed in 1987. The Jesus Lizard play a really heavy driving and hard hitting form of noise rock that is completely original and very brooding. Sparse hints of industrial music and speed metal are found throughout this varied yet distinctive record.
Their lead singer, David Yow, is a slightly deranged skeleton from Austin who is a very compelling case for Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as a completely intuitive singer in every possible limb of his act: his crazy and unpredictable songwriting; his behavior on stage; and his “singing” on stage. The man is a walking study in schizophrenia.
So, it’s fun to count the man’s changes, since they happen so often and drastically randomly throughout the course of this album, so many times, that it’s almost as if he was patched together by a drunken robot that runs on magnetic tape. He’s almost inhumane, like a wounded train hobo, drunkenly moaning in the night.
It’s daunting, it’s dark, it’s disturbing at times but it’s always Yow. Drunk Yow. Stoned Yow. Sleepy Yow. Maybe even, “Wanting to Strangle Albini Yow.” Who knows. Who cares. His singing is great. He shares “The Damo Suzuki Effect” where a completely bizarre and uniquely talented singer jumps into a band that is complete sounding and who don’t really need a singer.
This is part of the reason everything the man does when he opens his mouth sounds appropriate. That and he’s insane enough to emulate raw fear on command. He conveys it with his grunting and his screeching and his swells. Just about everything else too.
Then there’s good ol’ Duane Denison. A man who’s face screams: “You’re lucky I’m way too fucking high to care about anything, or else I’d probably strangle you with my guitar strap.” A man of interest and certainly a man of stellar cohesion.
Within their dynamic, his role in the band is very contrary to our friend Yow. He pierces through anything the band does on every track in this album and sounds like a fire storm doing it. But he’s the wings of this band. They fly because of his ability to retain structure within his chaotic playing. The melodic edge he brings to this band gives the music its nastiest and grimiest edge.
“The Serial Killer Sound” as my dad commented. I thought more, Aztec. Then Comes Dudley sounded like Tenochtitlan to me.
Either way, Duane brings his bizarre look farther than meets the ear whenever he’s playing. On Nub, Denison’s guitar sounds like a chainsaw that suddenly found itself attached to a rocket that was cutting through the Mojave sky, and Karpis has a very ornate rhythmic and harmonic structure. It also happens to have the unarguably clearest vocal takes on the whole record. I would say: “The whole band really meshes on this track.”. But since that can be easily applied to every track, I’ll just say Goat.
The bands dark energy and constant hay maker attitude is affirmatively owned by Mac Mcneilly and David Wm. Sims. They stir around like a giant vat of oil, bubbling sporadically to release some of the built up pressure, but with a constant undertow spinning the entire room to make it seem as if things are going wildly out of control. They are maniacally entwined on this record and without their incredibly tight chemistry, The Jesus Lizard would just sound like a creepy meth head playing random riffs while his drunken friend screams and barks and yells incoherently and drunkenly dives into the “crowd” only to get up and continue.
Not without his beer, though.
Combine the psychiatric facility ramblings, the blisteringly melodic and sharp abrasion of the guitar, the impossibly tight lock-step drumming matched to the “T” with an incredibly murky and speedy bass line and you get one of the best records you’ve heard in a long time. You get a rethinking of what you thought music could be. You get it all.
Goat’s sheer capacity for slamming all of these things so fiercely together just boggles my mind. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to write about this stuff, especially with it playing. Let’s just be safe and say this record, after listening to it with intention, has commanded my attention ever since I laid ears on it (again).
I’m always listening to it, wherever I go and that trend doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop any-time soon. I would maybe considering going down a list of individual songs, but honestly, it’s rather pointless. I don’t feel like spending the next four hours trying to draw minute and demure comparisons. I feel like listening to Goat.
Today is a big day for Culture Fusion: our efforts to expand to a wider range of writers and musical interests has hit pay dirt with the introduction of new reviewer Audrey. She enjoys exploring the realms of the strange and unusual and who’s innate understanding of music helps create an informative and enjoyable read.
Her first review delves into the strange and unusual world of Tim Buckley’s experimental period with the classic album “Lorca.”
I’ve found that it’s impossible to have a conversation with someone about Tim Buckley without the subject of his son immediately slipping into the dialogue. So, I will get this out of the way right now: I am not a fan of Jeff Buckley. There, I said it. Shoot me.
Don’t get me wrong: Jeff isn’t bad; I just don’t find him all that interesting. He has a nice voice, and 1994’s Grace had a few good songs on it (his cover of Hallelujah brings me to tears), but as an album, I find it to be completely unremarkable; this is a lot of why it enrages me when he inevitably gets brought up every single time I try to talk about his father.
Seriously, people – I just want to talk about one of my favorite songwriters, not his son. Jeff couldn’t even swim! (Okay, that was bad.)
Also, Tim was just so dreamy. I mean, look at those curls. Swoon.
When I listen to Tim’s output from the year 1970, I can’t help but wonder why he isn’t more recognized and revered. He released two of his strongest records that year: Lorca and Starsailor. The former of these two releases is not only the Tim Buckley album I enjoy the most, but also one of my all-time favorite records.
It was recorded during the same sessions as his 1969 album, Blue Afternoon but they couldn’t be any more different. Tim was trying to fulfill contractual obligations to his record labels during this period and was creating and releasing a lot of new material.
Perhaps as a response to creating so much at once, his music started becoming eccentric. Rather than writing catchy tunes, Lorca found Buckley completely abandoning the binary structure of his songwriting to explore a more free-form style: this led to his songs being much longer than on his previous records. Leaving behind the verse-chorus format allowed him to focus on creating immersive pieces that highlighted his astonishing vocal range and his poetry.
Not only did his lyrical approach begin to differ, his musical approach was similarly altered: this certainly wasn’t the hippie-folk sound that he used on his earlier albums. On Lorca, Tim started incorporating free jazz and avant-garde elements into the compositions, which undoubtedly alienated his fan base.
Fans may have also been alienated by the minimal levels of acoustic guitar on the album. It was no longer the musical focal point and driving force of the tracks. There is almost no percussive element on the record, except for congas in the background of a few songs.
With the exception of perhaps the track ‘Nobody Walkin’’, these songs don’t sound like traditional rock or folk. His voice completely took over and led the songs in much different directions. Largely owing to the unexpected nature of the record, the album was a financial and critical failure.
Side one opens with the title track, which is much more jarring than anything he had previously released. The song begins with the sound of various keyboards (including the pipe organ), an immediate and complete departure from everything he had done before. Tim plays in an unusual and uncomfortable 5/4 time signature, which creates an brooding atmosphere he maintains for 10 long minutes. This is easily the most difficult track on the record, and I’m guessing it probably scared a lot of his folk-oriented fans away from the album.
The other track on side one is called ‘Anonymous Proposition’. I get the impression that Tim must have been depressed when he wrote most of songs on this record: almost every track creates a strong feeling of isolation which is especially strong on this song. The track (which is easily my favorite on the album) features what I feel is the best vocal performance Tim ever recorded: the song appears to deal with an uncommitted relationship, and I cannot help but be moved by his authentic-sounding delivery of lyrics like “love me as if someday you’ll hate me”, knowing that his romance was doomed before it even started. When asked about the piece, Tim said, “It deals with a ballad in a totally personal, physical presentation… It has to be done slowly; it has to take five or six minutes; it has to be a movement. It has to hold you there and make you aware that someone is telling you something about himself in the dark”.
Side two of the record is significantly less challenging than the first. It starts off with the beautiful ‘I Had A Talk With My Woman’ which initially seems to be more uplifting than the rest of the record.
However, when you listen closer to the lyrics, the song reveals itself to be just as depressing as the rest of the album. The track has similar lyrical themes to ‘Anonymous Proposition’: Tim alleges singing about his love from the top of a mountain in one verse, but questions how long the love is going to last in the next. Fans looking for an accessible starting point on Lorca could do well to start here, as it features more similarities to his older work than anything else on the LP while still retaining some of the jazzy elements that are present on side one.
Next, we find a moody piece called ‘Driftin’’. Like the rest of the album, this song reaffirms my belief that Tim was dealing with depression over a break-up or a stagnant relationship. It is a slow, dreamy song which features some very lovely guitar work. If I had to identify a low point on the record, I would say that this wonderful song is it.
The final track is ‘Nobody Walkin’’, which presents a musical change of pace. The slow moodiness of the rest of the album is broken by an upbeat, fast-paced groove which feels out of place in the context of the recording. As alien as it is, the song leaves the listener with much better feelings than that rest of the songs.
Lyrically, the song is also different in that it sees Tim take initiative by leaving his lover rather than wait to see whether or not she is going to leave him. This more proactive approach makes ‘Nobody Walkin’’ an appropriate, somewhat positive conclusion to the story of Lorca.
Much like the love spoken of in ‘Anonymous Proposition’, it seems Tim knew that the record would be doomed from the start. Larry Beckett, Tim’s early songwriting partner, said that he wanted to purposefully alienate his fans with his new direction. Tim was once quoted saying that Lorca is a record that “you can’t put… on at a party without stopping things; it doesn’t fit in.”
I would definitely have to agree with him. I’ve tried playing it for a group of friends and everyone in the room immediately stopped talking and started listening. It’s definitely a record that demands your attention.
For the time, there aren’t many albums to which you can compare Lorca. The 1970s weren’t a time when popular folk artists were incorporating avant-garde and jazz elements into their sound. Buckley’s use of the chromatic scale sets Lorca apart from the more conventional and melodic folk music which lived (and lives) as the norm. The most obvious contemporary of Lorca’s would be Nico’s ‘Desertshore’, but even that record doesn’t have the desolate and stark qualities of Lorca.
My opinion of Lorca, much like my opinion of Jeff, is the unpopular one. Most people I know prefer Starsailor. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on that album; it’s a fantastic record and certainly deserves all of the acclaim it receives. The two albums receive comparisons quite often since they’re both products of his avant-garde period and they have some similar qualities.
However, I think it’s unfair to compare the two as they have many important differences that separate them more than their similarities unite them. First of all, Starsailor is a much more adventurous and genre shattering album. Tim dove even further into experimentation on that record and came up some very interesting and unique songs as he moved further and further from the folk norm and format. Lorca does not dive as fully into the uncertain waters of the unknown and holds more strongly to traditional folk music formats.
While I usually tend to favor weirder albums, Lorca is my favorite album by Buckley. Starsailor is a fascinating listen, but it lacks intimacy, whereas when I listen to Lorca, I feel like I’m getting a better look at what Tim was like during this point in his life. It has a very atmospheric quality to it that few other albums I’ve listened to are able to achieve, and for this reason alone, it is worth your time and effort to enjoy.