Monday, 9 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
People say that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The same may ring true for metal: AC/DC and Cannibal Corpse. Two bands that seemingly never shift, never waver, and never grow up from their adolescent, puerile pursuit of sex and six strings.
Cannibal Corpse have been frolicking in post-mortal ejaculation for some 20 years now, and have managed to upset – or grimly amuse - almost everybody in their wake. Hitting a blood-drenched pinacle in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Cannibal Corpse's imagery, both album sleeves and a lyrically, served to antagonise - their early albums were banned in Australia and Germany and caused calls for censorship at home in America.
Like AC/DC, it’s not very necessary to get every single album Cannibal Corpse have done: just the choice ones, and their third album, “Tomb Of The Mutilated” is one of their best.
Grunting and grinding into the world with the vicious, fast frenzy of “Hammer Smash Face” (one of the most PC of the song titles), its demented, heavy and bludgenioning from the start straight to the finish, 35 minutes later. But the shock of the album hits you way before then: the cover depicting a rotting corpse performing cunnilingus on another rotting corpse is – to say the least – eye catching. It is a perfect complement to the base noise within - a grinding death metal attack: fast; technical; dirty; disturbing and Chris Barnes’ legendry indecipherable bowls-of-hell vocals acting as a rhythmical item rather than anything closing in on melody. Cannibal Corpse listens like a Tom Savini (legendry horror special effects & makeup artist: Dawn Of The Dead; Friday The 13th) movie watches.
Yet, for all the vile, disturbing imagery of songs like “I Cum Blood”, “Entrails Ripped From A Virgin’s Cunt” or “Necropedophile”, Cannibal Corpse have a musical presence, becoming more than just a offensive joke (it’s not like you can understand the lyrics, anyway). The music is violent and wretched, but somehow appealing, accessible; almost catchy (well, the riffs ...). You’ll come (cum?) for the guts, you’ll stay for the g(l)ory.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Adam Ant is more known for his pompous, grand costumes, unique make up and brilliant, joyous pop tunes like “Prince Charming” and “Friend or Foe”. Before all that - before even Marco - was “Dirk Wears White Sox”, a slice of abstract art posing as punk rock.
The sound is minimalist - full of jerky, disjointed guitar riffs and driven by David Barbarossa’s eccentric and utterly unique drums that eventually evolved into tom-tom backbone for both Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow. The songs themselves are dark, witty, obscure numbers that never suggest the joyous bombasticism pushed when he found fame the following year; they rumble along like atmospheric musings, never quite fitting in the way they’re supposed to, running forward, bumbling backwards.
It’s a dark album, venturing into Siouxsie Sioux territory and Adam’s lyrics are blackly quirky: screams of “I’m a spastic but my boots are clean”; musing about the death of John F. Kennedy in “Catholic Day”; the size of God’s knob in “Day I “Met God”; or Cleopatra as a prostitute in “Cleopatra”. His lines are melodious and sweet, swinging easily over the songs.
It’s all punk rock, but not as many know it. It’s difficult, interesting, shape shifting, genre-defying and not an easy lie down. This was before punk became it's slow decay into bordem, when it was more than “three chords and the truth” - it was an idea. Dirk's full of glorious ideas, experimentations, not being afraid to challange themselves or their audience. Whilst he went onto bigger things, this is Adam Ants most exploratory, interesting effort - a unique experiment. Oh yeah, and that’s Antz with a ‘Z’
Monday, 16 February 2009
“Screw Up” opens with the sound of rhythmic clapping, tap dancing and vocal chanting, each noise and rhythm building upon what happened before, working up into a crescendo: it’s clear from the get go that this was something special.
Super Junky Monkey are one of those groups that stand alone in music, breaching a gap between the familiar sound of funk metal and the left field world of the jazz, avant guarde and noise. Their debut studio album compromises of sixteen furious, deranged, dark, humorous, jazzy, funky, heavy songs that defy expectation even after a hundred listens.
It’s the brilliance of the musicianship, imagination and chemistry of each member which at the heart of the record. Whilst bassist Shinobu Kawai expertly weaves funky bass around (the fantastically named) Matsudaaahh!!’s intricate and precise beats, guitarist Keiko wonders around on top _ switching between jazzy, funky and metal lines, all weighing a ton - and front woman Mutsumi ‘623’ Takahashi delivers everything like she’s possessed, giving everything a grunt and a hefty dose of metaphorical balls like few men could ever hope for. It’s a band of equal parts, each adding their own unique brilliance and complementing each other so perfectly. There’s an untold centre of each piece which they all weave around, all going in the same direction in their own way: always funky; always heavy.
Of course, it was only the beginning and the uniqueness of the band built up with ever release, never a let down, always different. So few bands have ever been able to do what Super Junky Monkey did: the bridge between the known and the unknown, sounding like everything came natural and none of it was difficult. In the end, the brilliance only lasted four more years until Mutsumi’s dead in 1999, leaving an open world of possibilities at what was only hinted at by this awesome record.
Monday, 9 February 2009
A few of these fellows happened to be The Gadjits, and this is exactly what their second album did. Now a forgotten gem of the ‘Third Ska Punk Wave’, when they signed up to Tim Armstrong’s (Rancid) Hellcat in the late nineties The Gadjits were barely out of short trousers, but it’s a work of surprising maturity, clarity and richness: a forgotten gem of the genre.
At its best, the fifteen tracks are pitch perfect combination of ska and 60s beat music: Brandon Phillips’ vocals offer a relaxed cool tone over clean ska guitars, soulful 60s beats, funky bass and the always exhilarating tone of a Hammond organ. The sound is clean, punchy and exciting and reeks of youth yet defined by a defined, mature sound.
As it stands, the album that will be – unfortunately – long overlooked in the histories of music. It’s infectious and joyous from the start, retelling classic stories of death, love and drinking, covering ‘Mustang Sally’, and with a crucial classic number - ‘Beautiful Girl’ - to finish
Truth be told, this is probably the first in a long line of albums that inspired this heinous blog: any music enthusiast has a wealth of albums they feel are overlooked, ignored and forgotten. So, for me (and maybe a few others), this album is just one in many that represents the tragedy of a music industry.
Monday, 2 February 2009
“Wop-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bom-bom”: the world changed with this joyous, nonsensical scream by a black drag queen tortured by his own religious convictions. Although to this day Little Richard has never quite figured out if he’s a sexually promiscuous rock’n’roll star, a preacher, or both: Little Richard is the spirit of rock’n’roll. Elvis may’ve been the looks, Chuck Berry the songs, but Little Richard is its soul: driving, raw and crazy.
The twelve tracks of his debut hold a power of their own over 50 years later and were before the complications set in. Looking sharp with a mile-high quiff and zoot suit: to this day it rocks like little else has or will ever do. Musically, it’s classic rock’n’roll: every song is pretty much the same (a sped up blues jam), made individual by Richards relentless hammering of piano chords and his unique squeal of a voice. It’s a celebration of chaotic, confused, hyper youth: he screams, yells and hollers his way through twelve undeniable things: ‘Tutti Frutti’ (the original lyric was “A wop bop a loo mop, a good godamn! Tutti frutti, a loose booty. If it don’t fit, don’t force it, you can grease it, make it easy”), ‘Long Tall Sally’, “Slippin’ And Slidin’”, “She’s Got It”, “Jenny Jenny”.
By the time of his release rock’n’roll was just emerging out of the Southern US states, and it’s hard to specify what Richard did so differently from the pre-runners or his contemporaries, except that the unique appeal of his raw, gospel-driven, lunatic vocals and relentless, pounding, unyielding piano are a both powerhouse performances.
He only did two more albums like this – Little Richard and The Fabulous Little Richard – and then found God, but he was book at the keys soon enough, but never quite like this. The album’s a pure wheel of excitement: pure, innocent, addictive - the original appeal still lingers. If you want to know where modern popular music really started, this isn’t a bad place to begin. He may’ve not been the first; the most musically proficent; the most successful, but it is the best.
Monday, 26 January 2009
It’s an old theme, and no doubt my choices will be much contested, but this is a positive spin on the do-this-before-you-die lists (‘before you die’ is so negative) and one that I hope is more diverse than most – incorporating not only the well known but also the very little known.
The twentieth century gave birth to the democratisation of art, and this is a celebration of that turning moment: when Jazz was incorporated and accepted by a ‘high-brow’ crowd (Gershwin, perhaps), and when rock’n’roll and the blues gave birth to almost everything we listen to today.
Music success seems so often to be to be based on how much money the record business gives an act to publicise itself: this doesn’t mean it’s good, it just means they’ve got some wallets behind them. However, it doesn’t mean it’s bad either. So, I’ll try to incorporate everything I know and learn about on the way with as little prejudice that I can muster.
Except for electronic music. Apart from Squarepusher.
This blog will take in pop music, rock’n’roll, grindcore, soul, rockabilly, funk, jazz, hard rock, heavy metal, hip hop, indie, country music, hardcore, bluegrass, punk, jazzcore,
Updated every Monday morning.
Yes, if anybody reads this: it is an ego trip.