Dispatches from Chaos presents…The Civil Wars?!
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!
Dispaches from Chaos Presents…The Top Five Weirdest Judas Priest Videos!
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!
Savage Hippie Presents…I Don’t Know What to Say About Radio Werewolf
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.
The Red Telephone Presents: “Goat” by The Jesus Lizard
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.
Stuff That Doesn’t Suck Presents: Lorca by Tim Buckley
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.
“Tales from a Lush Attic” by I.Q. or…Neo-Prog Catastrophe!
I literally just finished my review of “Calling All Stations” by Genesis and was looking through a folder on my desktop called “Relisten” and saw an album I forgot I recently downloaded: “Tales from a Lush Attic” by I.Q.
Yes, it’s progressive rock. How could you tell?
As a matter of fact, it’s the 1983 or so neo-prog semi-debut by a band named after the term “Intelligence Quotient.” That’s how you know they’re serious and very good: they’re literally the concept of intelligence.
Hey, you ever notice how “neo” usually prefaces things that either outright suck, blow or are even somewhat totally terrifying?
Neo-conservative. Neo-Nazi. Neo-prog. See what I mean?
I mean come on…Marillion…Dream Theater…Ayeron…Anglagard…I’ve heard so much of that “neo-prog” crap that I could just about fucking puke blood on a bag of recently orphaned kittens.
Only two out of say 1,000 of those neo-prog bands ever did anything for me. Anglagard sounds so much like an exact mixture of every major prog band that I find them fascinating. They’re hardly even “neo-prog.” More like “regressive prog” but that contradiction is just strange enough to excite me.
Neo-prog is by it’s very nature completely and utterly derivative. That’s kind of the fun of it: to spot which bands they’re stealing from, what ideas they’re stealing, how they’ve masked the ideas, whether they’re capable of writing original melodies and how dramatically over serious they take themselves.
Anglagard is still my best band for band in this category because they don’t sound like anybody: they sound like EVERYBODY. One moment, it’s a pastoral fantasy ripped right from early Genesis, the next it’s stern, semi-comic, snare drum marches straight out of “Thick as a Brick” and suddenly they’re Gentle Giant with convoluted guitar and keyboard interaction.
Perhaps best of all, almost never sing and they almost never take themselves too seriously. They seem to play their music out of a sincere love of progressive rock which is a heartfelt enough to avoid trashing their intentions.
I.Q. is a bit different. It’s not too hard to see who they are modeling themselves after: Peter Nichols is a stunning Peter Gabriel mimic. Actually, I take that back: Nichols is mostly very good at performing the “stern” Gabriel vibe. Everything he sings is dark hued, smoky declamations or important sounding shouts. Nichols never touches on the delicacy of “The Carpet Crawlers” or the hilarity of “Return of the Giant Hogweed.”
Nah, it’s all just “Look at me! Look at me! I’m saying something very important about the world!” when they are, in fact, saying the same old “important thing about the world” that everybody else has already said a thousand times.
Bollocks. Can’t fault his singing in a technical sense (as he is a technically good singer) but the effect is rather dull.
Musically, the band is Genesis if they had resisted the urge to progress into their art-electro-pop stage after Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett left and had continued to write progressive music. In this universe, Gabriel and Hackett never left but integrated 80’s sensibilities, production techniques and playing styles into a 70’s progressive rock format.
So, the playful sense of humor is mostly gone as is the wonderful diversity of approaches that Genesis touched on in the past. So is their pop sensibility which infected even their most convoluted prog “masterpiece.”
That’s not entirely true. I.Q. doesn’t eschew pop sensibilities completely or focus on dissonance. After all, it’s not like I.Q. is playing John Zorn. Each song has a logical build, with several recurring melodies and rather straight forward song structures. Yes, the band gets busy on the arrangements but that’s mostly to hide the fact that they’re more-or-less playing pretty simple songs.
This is the common bane with neo-prog (simple music but busy arrangements to sound more “complex”) but I.Q. pulls it off better than others simply due to the quality of their music. These guys will never knock any of the prog greats off their thrones but everything is well written, occasionally catchy and at the very least highly melodic in a forgetable way.
That isn’t an insult: the album is pleasant while its on and some melodies may even stick in your head. But nothing is hard hitting, unforgettable or truly memorable. It’s all simply “pleasant” and “fun” without being too annoying.
20 minute opener “The Last Human Gateway” (see what I mean about the seriousness of neo-prog?) tells you all you need to know about the album and the band: simple, but engaging build up from organ led chants, complex, busy drumming, wild guitar soloing, Nichols preaching it up like archangel Peter Gabriel and the bass player laying down complex, busy, constantly shifting melodic bass lines.
As a result, “The Last Human Gateway” is a lot of fun for the prog fan that wants some background music but is sick of hearing “Close to the Edge” or even “Land of the Grey and Pink” for the 100th time. Everything they play has been done by better bands but they tweak just enough of the ideas to stay as original as possible within the limited confines of the neo-prog rule book.
Hell, they write their own melodies. Isn’t that neat? And they name a classical piano interlude “My Baby Treats Me Right Cuz I’m a Hard Loving Man” so they can’t be all that bad.
Sure beats the stuffing outta Dream Theater.
The big reason these guys get a pass from me when other, more famous and highly selling bands make me puke is that they never seem to be taking everything too seriously. Sure, the song titles are a little pretentious and Nichols seems much too serious for his own good, but there’s a sense of fun in what they’re doing, a playfulness in their approach and playing (they were, after all, barely teenagers when this came out) that makes it much more infectious than Dream Theater’s latest operatic musically myopic masturbatepiece.
But don’t lose your mind trying to collect this band’s work. I’d say you could get this and maybe the later “The Wake” which is more “pop oriented” by including more tracks with shorter song lengths and you’ll get a good idea of what this band represents.
I know I didn’t review every single song on the album: for the most part, it all sounds exactly the same from one second to the next. Everything is constantly shifting, the arrangements stay the same and nobody ever plays anything truly memorable. The style is very uniform throughout the album in a way that makes it hard to discuss in depth.
Seriously, you’ve literally heard it all with “The Last Human Gateway.” Youtube it if you’re curious.
p.s. This reviews sounds like I hate the band. I don’t. I’m just being honest about their potential. They’re a lot of fun. But nothing mind blowing if you’ve heard the prog greats already.
Tinseltown Thursday Presents…Sore Losers (1997)
We at Culture Fusion are going to open up our doors and our interests a bit more fully. Music reviews are great and all but we also love movies and to show this off, I’m starting a new series called “Tinseltown Thursday.”
Every Thursday, I (or another writer) will explore a random A or B movie (although I’m sure to delve more deeply into the “D” aspect) trying to highlight the strange, the unusual, the unique, the fun and the fucking weird.
The first entry into this new series is “Sore Losers.”
I can hear you all now asking an understandable question: what the fuck is “Sore Losers”? It’s a movie I discovered about 10 years ago on a “Four Freaky Movies” (or something to the effect) compilation from a Sam Goody in Marquette, Michigan. I don’t think I’ve watched the other three movies (two of which are Witchcraft sequels).
In fact, I actually bought the box set because of the description FOR this movie…and the tag line in particular. “They wanted meat…so they ate the flower children!” It’s a movie so obscure I could barely find pictures for it.
Made in 1997 by writer and director John Michael McCarthy it stars nobody at all. There’s some dude that looks and dresses a lot like Prince as well as a girl who, I swear, is Divine’s son i.e. she looks like a fat guy in drag.
She’s the femme fatale of the movie.
The plot is elegant in its simplicity: an intergalactic serial killer named Blackie returns to Earth to complete his mission of killing 12 random people. He killed 10 people 42 years ago but was unable to finish his mission, earning the status of a “sore loser.” Somehow (it’s never explained why) he has a second chance. He busts out his buddy Mike (the Prince-look-alike) and hooks up with psychopathic Kerine (Divine Junior).
Blackie realizes that any kills done by his buddies counts towards his total. However, Kerine screws up and kills both her parents (when he only needed one more kill, after a strange magazine inflicted death of a store keeper) and he may be trapped on Earth.
However, this sore loser has the chance to “take back” the 13th death by killing somebody the elders choose. But they gotta bring Kerine’s loathed mother’s corpse along with them until they snag their last death…which turns out to be Mike’s love interest Goliatha who has no attention span but has the strength to lift a motorcycle over her head.
However! The Men in Black (guitar noise rock group Guitar Wolf) show up and take Goliatha and frame her for the sore losers crimes. Now, it’s a race against time to stop Goliatha’s execution and kill her (as Blackie must kill her himself).
YOU GOT ALL THAT?!
I only go into so much depth with this plot (something I probably won’t do again) to try to detail the insane and ridiculously intricate nature of this movie’s plot. I swear to Goliatha, I’ve tried to watch this movie a solid…10 times but I always lose track of what’s going on half way through and begin losing interest.
It’s usually when Guitar Wolf shows up and starts killing old farmers, who’s daughters turn into angels and banish the proud punk paranoid psychos.
This movie is insanely ambitious and insanely low budgeted: there are scenes of severe “under dubbing” (as my friend Jeff “dubbed” it) wherein all sounds from the scene drop out while two characters talk. Film stock (they used film! My God!) suddenly becomes drastically, drastically poor.
Nobody can act. The dialogue is sub-Tarantino (if Tarantino was trying to write like Troy Duffy) and filled with dozens of fan service scenes of nudity.
I can’t even begin to explain half of the insane, pretentious shit that happens in this movie. I already mentioned the angel. Well, there’s another scene where Kerine and some random girl just start…having sex with each other. On top of Kerine’s mother’s corpse.
Intense close ups. Looped laughter. Lines like “I don’t do it for the money…I do it for the kicks!” as well as the worst hippie impersonation you’ve ever seen. Say hello to an immortal nurse from the 50’s with double D’s and punk rock tattoos and mascara! She is chocked to death for no good reason. The mother’s corpse screams random insanity and somehow causes the city to blow up at the end of the movie simply by screaming (SPOILER ALERT!).
So yeah, it’s stupid. Incredibly stupid. It’s technically inept, poorly scripted, ridiculously acted and a failure on all levels…but is it fun?
This is a tougher question to answer. The first…half of the movie is definitely a lot of fun. The whole opening scene which introduces Blackie with the worst CGI this side of “Feeders” features a hilarious monologue that describes the basic plot and ends with the line “get away with murder!” echoed a dozen times.
Blackie walks into the shittiest gas station ever, where a weird old man strums an acoustic guitar and sings a sad folk song. Blackie kills the gas station owner by shoving a magazine in his mouth (ostensibly because he had no “Tales from the Crypt” comics). The old man playing guitar just keeps on playing.
Suddenly, Goliatha is sitting on the counter but she “don’t remember nothing” as her attention span is shot. That’s a plot point, by the way. In fact, just about every other half mumbled non-sequitor in this movie somehow becomes a plot point.
Blackie and Kerine fall in love after almost running each other off the road and taking pot shots at each other.
Guitar Wolf attacks by shooting lens flares at everybody. Blackie receives regular visits from “An Elder” (Florida exploitation God David Friedman) who smokes a cigar, cackles and tries to explain the plot some more.
Everybody goes to a carnival where Blackie explains to Mike that they gotta kill Goliatha. Mike doesn’t like that so they run away but Guitar Wolf takes her and…fakes her death? And then frames her for it?!
On Goliatha’s execution day, Kerine seems to simply waltz into her execution chamber (in a leather bondage suit for no reason) and gets into a fist fight with her. While the execution is taking place. Both die, as the governor frantically pleads over the phone to stop the execution.
Somewhere off screen, a heroin dealer ties off the director’s arm and gives him his daily dose of “inspiration.” Hell, the director probably paid him back by putting him in the movie (my guess is that that’s him underneath the horrendous “old lady” make up on Kerine’s mother).
If it sounds fun that’s only because it is but only in fits and spurts. There are a few amazing D-movie level scenes (such as the scene where Goliatha picks up her motorbike in front of a green screen THAT HAS NO IMAGE PROJECTED ON IT!) but there are also too many slow moments and way too much explaining.
That’s the essential problem with this movie: they wanted to make a trashy, fun, exploitation flick but they delve into too many moments of intensely pretentious insanity. The plot is way too convoluted and confusing to work (my plot description only touched a portion of what happened in this movie) and having characters stop and talk about it for 10 minutes at a time only makes things worth.
After all, you can’t watch Guitar Wolf shoot lasers out of their eyes (or admire the rather sexy Goliatha) if you fall asleep listening to Blackie and Mike babble on about blood transfusions and the Lo-Fi Frequency or how certain kills don’t “count” for weird and not previously established reasons.
But I can honestly say I’ve never seen a movie like this in my life (it’s way too weird to be counted in among the usual “post-Tarantino” waste bin) and I’m definitely glad I own it…I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to finish the damn thing.
“Calling All Stations” by Genesis… an Entry in the Inexplicable Album Series
Edwin is focused on his site for the day and didn’t want to rush anything so he won’t be posting today. Good thing I had a few articles in the backlog, including this look at what I’ve always considered a rather great example of an Inexplicable Album as it’s shockingly and irredeemably awful…read on to find out why, kiddies!
After listening to thousands of albums in my life, I’ve discovered a listening event I call the “Good Album First” effect.
This occurs when you listen to a band’s best albums first and then move on to their “other” stuff. The “other” stuff usually ends up being a huge disappointment, even if its high quality in and of itself.
For example, I listened to the Cars debut album and I couldn’t get enough. It was diverse, well written, engagingly arranged and surprisingly lyrically apt.
Then I listened to “Candy O.” And “Shake It Up.” And “Heartbeat City.” They were hugely disappointing to me at first. Although I’ve learned to enjoy just about every album by the Cars, I’ve never listened to one I enjoy as much as their first.
I mention this effect because many fans often call out other listeners that they believe are suffering under this “delusion.”
“If you wouldn’t have heard ‘Pet Sounds’ first, you’d think ‘Carl and the Passions-So Tough’ was amazing!” they might say, or “Come on yeah sure, compared to ‘Sgt. Pepper’ it might be weak, but ‘Help!’ is still a kicking album!”
I have made very similar arguments from time to time and I understand the draw of such a simplistic and impossible to dispute (logically) argument.
But here’s what makes that particular argument so insidious: by claiming somebody doesn’t appreciate something because it doesn’t meet their expectations, you are , in essence, arguing that they are closed minded. And how can you disprove being closed minded? By getting angry and defensive and looking like the asshole while the TRUE asshole gets all the girls for defending shitty albums.
Why do I bring up this contentious argument? Because it’s an argument I’ve often run into from certain (rather delusional) Genesis fans regarding their last (and likely to stay that way) album “Calling All Stations.”
“Come on man! You just heard ‘Foxtrot’ first so you think it’s the best thing ever. If this album was by another band, you’d love it. It’s dark, moody, mysterious and oh so ‘arty’ after all the pop crap of the Phil Collins era!”
I’d like to take this opportunity to tell all “Calling All Shit-Stains” defenders to “fuck off” for that argument: this album, objectively (from my point of view) and in fact quite subjectively (almost mathematically) is not only the worst album produced by Genesis but may be one of the worst albums ever made.
Short, short Genesis history: weird prog band with Peter Gabriel loses Peter Gabriel and makes synth pop music to make it big. Phil Collins was their drummer and singer for the pop period and he had his own crappy solo career.
Collins left in 1996 after the simultaneous success of the “We Can’t Dance” Genesis album and his “But Seriously…” solo album in and around 1991.
Do you get the humor of Phil’s timing fully? I mean, the guy left the band to “further his solo career” right when it was at the point of complete implosion and just moments before the guy became a decades long running joke. But hey, even if Phil did make crappy Disney soundtracks…he never made this album. So he still comes out smelling like roses in the metaphorical pile of shit.
All right that’s enough stalling: let’s get started.
Here’s a fascinating yet true fact: one second into the album is all it takes for you to know it’s going to second. Seriously. One second into the opening title track is all it takes. Don’t believe me?
I was right wasn’t I? The second that stupid dive bomb heavy metal guitar riff comes in your toes curled a little didn’t they? And then the stupid, unimaginative and plodding drum beat started giving you bad flashbacks to early Van Halen moments before Tony Bank’s cheese ball keyboards jumped in to remind you of his…mixed history of success with picking tasteful, non-shitty keyboard tones.
And then the ringer…I’m sorry, I mean SINGER…Ray Wilson starts bleating in and you simultaneously feel intense anger and pity for Genesis.
You see, before the release of this album, they billed Wilson as a second coming of Peter Gabriel. There’s…a very, very small grain of truth to that. Basically, Wilson is rather raspy. Or “smokey” or perhaps even “dramatic.” Kinda like Gabriel.
That “kinda” is the smallest and least honest “kinda” you’ve ever heard in your life. Kinda like the “kinda” you whisper when your mom asks you if you’re smoking pot again.
Wilson gets only minor blame for this album: all the music on the album is written by Banks and Rutherford. Wilson doesn’t even write the lyrics as the album was written and partially recorded before he joined. The band planned on integrating his creative input on a second album that never came to be due to the mass of either outright indifference or rage at this album. Thank heavens.
But then again, pity kicks in because you know part of them probably really believed that Wilson was something like a return to Gabriel. Sure, he lacks Gabriel’s sense of humor, raw power, songwriting talent, stage presence, charisma, sense of theatricality, enunciation, diversity, and…well…
Okay he’s nothing like Peter Gabriel. They were fools for trying to pull that one off.
Everything on the album is just DRAINING. Everything’s mid tempo…all the guitar tones are HEAVY (or blandly acoustic)…the drum beats are leaden and boring (there are two drummers on this album and you can’t tell them apart)…Ray whines out high school poetry level lyrics…the phrase “take me to the Congo, I’m free to leave” is crooned…and the album is long, I swear to fuck, it feels longer than listening to “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” (a double disc album) two times in a row.
The band seemingly went out of its way to alienate fans. They do everything wrong on this album. They wrote awful music and dressed it up in preposterous “dark” tones to make it “arty” in a misguided attempt to get back to their roots. They hired some bland dude and proclaimed him Gabriel. They eliminated all senses of pop sensibility, something present on EVERY Genesis album up to this point, including their darkest prog nightmares, to politely alienate all their pop fans.
They even refused to let Chester Thompson, their long standing live drummer, participate. I want to reiterate that: Thompson, excited about the possibility of being the band’s studio drummer and participating in songwriting and arranging, was turned down by the band.
Chester. Fucking. Thompson. Do you know that Chester Thompson used to drum with Frank Zappa during his most musically complex period? Or that Thompson played drums for (in)famous fusion band “Weather Report”? Or that he dedicated nearly 20 years of his life touring with a band that ultimately asked him to play little more than crude 4/4 beats to mimic Collins’ pop drumming style?
And they turned him down. They wanted a “fresh new start.” A “fresh new aneurysm” is more like it. I respect Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford a lot. They wrote a ton of great music for Genesis (in fact, they ultimately ended up writing more music for Genesis than anybody else) and helped steer the band through rocky periods of musical and personal changes to become one of the biggest bands in the world.
But when you turn down Chester Thompson (who actually would have been wasted on material this mundane) for two no-name hacks, I lose a little bit of respect. Not a lot. But enough.
I realize I didn’t talk about very many songs. In fact, I only talked about one. That’s enough. Seriously…one second…and you know you’re in trouble.