Monday, October 31, 2005

Random Fanfic

Sarcastic fanfic about lame subjects has been around for a while, and I pretty much thought it had exhausted all potential for amusement when someone wrote Minesweeper fanfic, but this Tetris story is quite clever.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Sunday Lessons

1) Don't take a tactical puke right after eating a pie. Not only is it a waste of a good pie, but it does you no good because only the pie at the top of your stomach gets regurgitated while the alcohol which is making you sick remains where it is.

(And throwing up undigested food is quite unpleasant. Kind of like taking a shit out of your mouth. It actually put my jaw out.)

2) The Rocky is dead, long live the Rocky.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jon Tells You What To Think, Part 4

Yeah I know, I haven't posted one of these for like six months, but I haven't forgotten about it, I've just been too lazy to write one up. So here's another bunch of my favorite albums, numbers ten through six.

(see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

10: A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms

The first time I heard this album I was dead drunk, and it completely blew me away. Maybe if I'd been sober it wouldn't have had quite so much of an effect on me, but there's no denying it's a brilliant album. A lot of people were disappointed when it first came out because it didn't sound like Tool (a silly expectation if you ask me, there's only one guy whose a member of both bands, and there wouldn't be much point in him being in two bands that sound the same), it's in the same broad genre of alternative metal but with a more gentle, melodic side.

Judith is their most popular song (probably because it's one of the heaviest tracks), and it is damn good, but my favorite has to be Three Libras, a sad, beautiful song which remains at the top of my favorites playlist even after four years. (It's got an awesome video too.)

9: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine - The Ironman

I have to thank Joel for randomly chucking this one at me one day and saying “I think you might like this”. Dr. Kevorkian is more or less the solo project of one Jordan Reyne, and it has a kind of ambient industrial style that might be classified as Darkwave. This album (the first under the name 'Dr Kevorkian', but not Reyne's first album) is dark, haunting and beautiful, but also with a heavier side. The music itself is simply inspired, which caused me to overlook the lyrics for a long time, but once I did get round to reading them I was very impressed with them too. It's easy for people to make fun of goth music, but this album takes the genre and does everything perfectly, where so many other musicians have been let down by their overblown pomposity.

8: The Doors - L.A. Woman

After a string of commercial disappointments The Doors' final album was hailed as a return to form, although sadly Jim Morrisons' death was just around the corner so we'll never know what they might have gone on to from here. Still, it's a damn fine note to leave on (even Ray Manzarek pretends that their two post-Jim albums don't exist), the quiet, mystical album closer Riders on the Storm remains (justifiably) one of The Doors' most well known songs, but the rest of the album is just as good, roving through all sorts of different styles. The opening track The Changeling is very 70s rock (complete with wah guitar), and many of the other tracks have a strong blues influence. Love Her Madly, the obligatory attempt to recapture the success of Light My Fire present on all of their albums, is by far the best 'catchy single' song they ever did, even better than Light My Fire. But my favourite track is Hyacinth House, a slow, sad but not depressing song.

Jim's lyrics are as usual pretty cool, in a very acid induced kind of way. The W.A.S.P. (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) is probably one of his best songs ever,

“I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft/ We have constructed pyramids in honour of our escaping.”

7: Coil - Musick to Play in the Dark

Coil produced far more than their share of brilliant albums over the years, but Musick is widely regarded as one of the finest. It's one of their more ambient, moody products, and also one of their most accessible, (even my mum asked for a copy). There's not a whole lot of craziness here, which is perhaps it's only defect, but instead we have six finely crafted ten minute songs, each of which exhibits a different kind of melancholic but trippy ambiance.

My favourite track is probably Red Queen, although many others come close. A bass drone and a warped jazz drum beat provide a menacing rhythm, and Jhon Balance darkly intones his lyrics while a ghostly piano improvises over the top. It's a very spooky song, truly suited for playing in the dark...

6: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine -The Loneliest of Creatures

Hey look! It's these guys again! On the second Dr Kevorkian album, the music becomes almost completely ambient, which would have struck me as being a bad idea before I heard it, as one of the first album's strengths was it's tight songwriting, but the result is absolutely brilliant.

The album has a potentially very pretentious concept behind it; it follows the journey of a deep space probe which has lost contact with earth. Fortunately they don't push it too hard, and there are very few lyrics on the album, so it's mostly just mood. The album makes good use of space oriented samples, such as radio transmissions and in one particularly well composed track, the electromagnetic waves given off by the Earth translated into audible sound. Over the top is the odd spoken word vocal or sad violin. Underneath it are a wide variety of menacing bass drones. You can't go wrong with a good long bass drone!

So, come back in about another six months for the next installment.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lucifer: The Divine Comedy

by Mike Carey

I just finished part four of the Lucifer series. There's not much more to say about it than what I said about the earlier entries, as we're now in the middle of a pretty tight plot. I will say that it's the best of the four I've read so far, the larger direction of the plot becomes more cohesive and lots of interesting twists were introduced, while other threads were satisfactorily resolved.

I appreciated some of the art a bit more this time around too. I liked the way that the Basanos (an animated deck of Tarot cards) were washed out and in a different style to the rest of the art, emphasising their otherwordliness. The writer and artists also did a really awesome job of rendering God, who we see for the first time in this collection.

The last issue in the collection is a real classic. It's a one off not tightly related to the main story arc, but it's absolutely hilarious. Two fallen cherubs attempt to sneak into the House of the Sleeper (“Huh? What? Is it the end of the world already?”) to retrieve a magic artifact.

“We need a thousand miles long gossamer rope, a pregnant akbitur and the oil of the Amaranthine Xar. To go.”

“Hey, are you sure that Akbitur is pregnant?”

“Well, she's knitting little woolen booties. And last night she was looking at a book of baby names.”

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fuck it, I'm Just Going To Smoke This Now

Deftones – B-Sides and Rarities

So their new album has been delayed (again!) but in the meantime we have this double disc retrospective sort of compilation to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band. The first disc is an audio CD, which features mostly covers, and some of them are pretty weird; The Smith's Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want and The Cure's If Only Tonight We Could Sleep make sense for the Deftones to perform and are damn good songs. A little more surprising but also good are covers of songs by Helmet and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Less pleasing to my ears are covers of Duran Duran and Sade's No Ordinary Love, but points for trying something different.

Randomly enough, there's also a cover of Idiot Pilot's cover of the Deftones' Teenager, ooh, self-referential! It's basically the same as the original except with more analog instruments and prettier singing, but still very good. There are some other different versions of Deftones songs here too, namely acoustic versions of Change, Digital Bath and Be Quiet and Drive, which all suit the mellower format very well, (despite what their guitarist says.*)

The remaining new songs are Crenshaw Punch, an Around the Fur era thrasher, and Black Moon, basically a rap song, featuring B Real from Cypress Hill. They're both OK, but not great.

The second disc is a DVD featuring all of their music videos. The Deftones have a fondness for plain live footage, or even worse, 'band playing the song in a crazy place' videos, but their live stuff does make for a decent video, and the only really bad example of the 'crazy place' video is My Own Summer, where they're playing on cages in shark infested water. But there are a few classics here too, namely Change, which perfectly matches the song's dark mood and Chino's opaque lyrics with an equally dark video and equally opaque imagery, and Bloody Cape, which is a rather bewildering take on a music video standard - the clip all about a hot chick in a short skirt. In between each video are little snippets of live footage, interviews and behind the scenes stuff, which are both interesting and entertaining. There are also live videos for Root and Engine Number 9.

I normally don't talk about the packaging of an album because it makes me feel like too much of a geek, but I will say that this one is particularly nice. It comes with a little booklet featuring lots of pictures and comments about each song on the CD written by the band. It even smells nice!

Overall it's a very nicely put together package. Maybe not worth it just for the b-sides disc, but it definitely is when you factor in the DVD.

*"There's nothing worse than taking some song you wrote to rock out and having to play it like a pussy"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mike Patton Related Goodness

At the risk of becoming a sounding board for another blog, I must note that Fourth Eye has news regarding Mike Patton's plans for the next year. Tomahawk are recording in December (fuck yeah!) and Peeping Tom is due mid next year (uh, didn't he say that last year and the year before?).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's Gonna Be Hardcore!

A cool interview with Dillinger Escape Plan's vocalist can be found here.

Money quote:
"The new album is gonna be ridiculous. I can promise you that. Chris and Ben have been writing shit they can hardly even play and then practicing it until it's blazing fast."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm the Nailbomb

Soulfly – Dark Ages

Death metal normally doesn't do a whole lot for me. It can be fun, especially live, but the only members of the genre who I'd go out and buy albums buy are (older) Sepultura and Soulfly. Soulfly's last album Prophecy was pretty good, nothing life changing but some good heavy shit, so I was really looking forward to this one.

And it delivers, more or less meeting expectations by being pretty much exactly more of the same again. One of the things that make Sepultura and Soulfly different from similar bands is the incorporation of classical and traditional 'ethnic music' (I usually really dislike that term) into their songs. On Prophecy nearly every track began or ended with a mellowed out genre shift to music with a middle eastern or south american feel, or contained a flamenco guitar solo or something similarly unconventional. There are fewer of these kinds of things on Dark Ages, which is a bit of a disappointment, but the few that there are are pretty good.

There are also some electronic touches on a few of the songs, which was a bit unexpected. Riotstarter is an unusual metal derivation of The Prodigy's Firestarter, which works really well. Drum and bass mixed with metal usually does, and why it isn't done more often I don't know. The March is a short but cool military sounding anthem, driven by what sounds like either an overworked drum machine or some very processed acoustic drums.

The album proper ends with the traditional Soulfly track, a pretty, laid back instrumental without a trace of anger or a single distorted guitar. This album's version is a particularly good one, going for over ten minutes without even coming close to wearing out its welcome. After that we have a couple of bonus tracks. Salmo-91 is another album track, but a departure from the others in terms of style. It's moody and dark where the other metal tracks are all heavy and aggressive. It happens to be one of the best on the album, they should do more stuff like this. There are a few live tracks too, which are cool and all but not quite as good as the ones off Prophecy.

Max Cavalera's lyrics have never been anything to write home about, and nothing changes on this album. There's a bit of an anti-war theme this time around, but otherwise he mainly sticks to the same old subjects – his faith, his family and fucking people up. Of course, he does have a flare for catchiness and that's definitely still present; it's always fun to jump around and yell “People like you just fuel my hate!”

Overall I'd say that despite having a few excellent tracks this album doesn't quite live up to Prophecy. It's more straight out metal than that album, and when they do that they tend to sacrifice a bit of their songwriting talent in order to get that extra thrashyness. Prophecy managed to overcome this by incorporating other styles directly into the heaviest songs, but on this one they're kept separate, and the heavy songs miss out on a bit of what makes Soulfly different because of that.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bonus Link

Also via The Cerebrate's Contemplations: Proposed changes to the British highway code.

Because I'm too Hungover to Post Anything Else

Hey! It's a live journal style big arsed random list meme thingy! (from The Cerebrate's Contemplations).

Statements that are true about me in bold. My comments in italics.

  • I miss somebody right now.
  • I don't watch much TV these days. America's Next Top Model just started again!
  • I love olives. Damn dirty olives!
  • I own lots of books.
  • I wear glasses or contact lenses.
  • I love to play video games.
  • I've tried marijuana. Note to any family members or police officers who may read this: I have not actually tried marijuana.
  • I've watched porn movies. And they were all boring.
  • I have been in a threesome. But not from lack of trying.
  • I have been the psycho-ex in a past relationship.
  • I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
  • I curse a whole fucking lot. Every opportunity I get.
  • I have changed a lot mentally over the last year.
  • I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me.
  • I'm TOTALLY smart. SMRT, no less.
  • I've broken someone's bones.
  • I have a secret that I am ashamed to reveal. I'd tell you what it is, but I'm too ashamed.
  • I hate the rain.
  • I'm paranoid.
  • I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free.
  • I need money right now.
  • I love sushi.
  • I talk really, really fast.
  • I have fresh breath in the morning. Not this morning at least. Damn tequila shots.
  • I have long hair.
  • I have lost money in Las Vegas.
  • I have at least one sibling.
  • I was born in a country outside of the U.S.
  • I have worn fake hair/fingernails/eyelashes in the past.
  • I couldn't survive without Caller I.D.
  • I like the way that I look.
  • I have lied to a good friend in the last 6 months.
  • I know how to cornrow. Sounds dirty...
  • I am usually pessimistic.
  • I have a lot of mood swings.
  • I think prostitution should be legalized. They did it last year and I haven't noticed the end of civilisation yet.
  • I think Britney Spears is pretty. Pretty annoying too...
  • I slept with a roommate.
  • I have a hidden talent.
  • I'm always hyper no matter how much sugar I have
  • I have a lot of friends. I have a medium amount of friends.
  • I am currently single.
  • I have pecked someone of the same sex. Sounds dirty...
  • I enjoy talking on the phone.
  • I practically live in sweatpants or PJ pants.
  • I love to shop.
  • I enjoy window shopping.
  • I would rather shop than eat.
  • I would classify myself as ghetto.
  • I'm bourgie and have worn a sweater tied around my shoulders.
  • I'm obsessed with my Xanga or Livejournal.
  • I don't hate anyone. I dislike them.
  • I'm a pretty good dancer. But only if dancing includes moshing to Tool.
  • I'm completely embarrassed to be seen with my mother.
  • I have a cell phone.
  • I believe in a god.
  • I have passed out drunk in the past 6 months. I have passed out drunk in the last 6 hours...
  • I've rejected someone before.
  • I currently like someone.
  • I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. More like too many ideas.
  • I want to have children in the future. I really hate kids.
  • I have changed a diaper before.
  • I've called the cops on a friend before.
  • I am a member of the Tom Green fan club.
  • I'm not allergic to anything. Not that I'm aware of...
  • I have a lot to learn.
  • I am shy around the opposite sex. Unless I'm drunk...
  • I'm online 24/7, even as an away message.
  • I have at least 5 away messages saved.
  • I have tried alcohol or drugs before. You mean there are people that haven't?
  • I have made a move on a friend's significant other or crush in the past.
  • I own the "South Park" movie.
  • I have avoided assignments at work/school to be on Xanga or Livejournal.
  • When I was a kid I played "the birds and the bees" with a neighbor or chum. Does that mean what I think it does...?
  • I enjoy some country music.
  • I would die for my best friends. Yeah but I'd die for all kinds of stupid things.
  • I think that Pizza Hut has the best pizza. Urgh. Pizza Hut, gross!
  • I watch soap operas whenever I can. Urgh, soap operas. Gross!
  • I'm obsessive, and often a perfectionist.
  • I have used my sexuality to advance my career. I don't think my boss would go for it.
  • I love Michael Jackson, scandals and all. Urgh, Michael Jackson. Gross!
  • I know all the words to Slick Rick’s "Children’s Story".
  • Halloween is awesome.
  • I watch Spongebob Squarepants and I like it.
  • I have dated a close friend's ex.
  • I like surveys/memes.
  • I am happy at this moment.
  • I'm obsessed with guys. Not guys in general, no.
  • Democrat.
  • Conservative Republican.
  • I am punk rockish.
  • I am preppy.
  • I go for older guys/girls, not younger. Quiet there in the cheap seats!
  • I study for tests most of the time.
  • I tie my shoelaces differently from anyone I’ve ever met.
  • I can work on a car.
  • I love my job. Ha!
  • I am comfortable with who I am right now.
  • I have more than just my ears pierced. I'm a non-conforming non-conformist.
  • I walk barefoot wherever I can. My feet are too beautiful to be exposed to the nasty outside world.
  • I have jumped off a bridge. Not that I can remember.
  • I love sea turtles. I love pretty much anything stupid looking.
  • I spend ridiculous amounts of money on makeup.
  • I believe in prophetic dreams. If even one of my dreams was prophetic I'd be very frightened.
  • I plan on achieving a major goal/dream. Just not sure which one yet.
  • I am proficient on a musical instrument. Proficient but still with a long way to go.
  • I worked at McDonald’s restaurant.
  • I hate office jobs. Don't know what else I'd do...
  • I love sci-fi movies.
  • I think water rules.
  • I went to college out of state. Not exactly, as we don't have states, but I did deliberately move as far as I could from my hometown.
  • I am adopted.
  • I like sausage. Sounds dirty... (but I don't mean it like that).
  • I am a pyro. Who isn't?
  • I love the Red Sox.
  • I have thrown up from crying too much.
  • I have been intentionally hurt by people that I loved.
  • I love kisses when they’re done well.
  • I fall for the worst people and have been hurt every time.
  • I adore bright colors. Black all the way.
  • I love Dear Abby.
  • I can't live without black eyeliner.
  • I think school is awesome. Ha!
  • I think pigtails serve a purpose. Quiet there in the cheap seats!
  • I don’t know why the hell I just did this stupid thing.
  • I usually like covers better than originals.
  • I don't like multi-textured ice cream.
  • I think John Cusack is adorable.
  • I fucking hate chain theme restaurants like Applebees and TGIFridays.
  • I watch Food Network way too much.
  • I love coaching youth sports.
  • I can pick up things with my toes. Why go to the bother of bending over every time you want to get something off the floor?
  • I can't whistle.
  • I can move my tongue in waves, much like a snakes’ slither. Not sure about this one but there's no one around to judge my attempts.
  • I have ridden/owned a horse.
  • I still have every journal I’ve ever written in.
  • I can't stick to a diet.
  • I talk in my sleep.
  • I've often thought that I was born in the wrong century. I'm not sure which one I should have been born in though.
  • I try to forget things by drowning them out with loads of distractions. If by 'distractions' you mean 'alcohol'.
  • Climbing trees is a brilliant past-time.
  • I have jazz in my blood.
  • I would not be friends if they weren't family.
  • I wear a toe ring.
  • I have tattoos.
  • I love vaginas. I'm more concerned with what they're a part of...
  • I can't stand at LEAST one person that I work with.
  • I am a caffeine junkie.
  • I know who Santos L. Halper is.
  • I read trashy romance novels and I am ashamed.
  • I love wrestling.
  • I am completely tree-huggy spiritual, and I'm not ashamed at all.
  • If I knew I would get away with it, I would commit at least one murder.
  • I cosplayed or know what cosplaying is. The latter only!
  • I have been to over 15 conventions.
  • I will collect anything, and the more nonsensical, the better.
  • I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner. Even though the thought makes me queasy right at the moment...
  • I'm an artist.
  • I have a goal to collect every Johnny Depp movie ever made.
  • I am ambidexterous.
  • I sleep with so many stuffed animals, I can hardly fit on my bed. This was true when I was a kid though.
  • My computer has a name. Ariadne.
  • If it weren't for having to see other people naked, I'd live in a nudist colony.
  • I have terrible teeth.
  • I hate my toes.
  • I did this Meme even though I wasn't tagged by the person who took it before me. Not by name, anyway.
  • I have more friends on the internet than in real life.
  • I have lived in either three different states or countries.
  • I am extremely flexible.
  • I love hugs more than kisses.
  • I want to own my own business.
  • I smoke or have tried cigarettes.
  • I have met a star from ABC's LOST.
  • I spend way too much time on the computer than on anything else. Even if you don't count work.
  • Nobody has ever said I'm normal. If they did I'd take it as an insult.
  • Sad movies, games, fics and the like can cause a trickle of tear every now and then.
  • I am proficient in the use of many types firearms and combat weapons.
  • I like the way women look in stylized men's suits.
  • I don't like it when people are unpleased or seem unpleased with me.
  • I have been described as a dreamer or likely to have my head up in the clouds.
  • I have played tennis with my non dominant hand before
  • I have played strip poker with someone else before.
  • I read the labels on food, shampoo, and other things just because. What else is there to do in the shower?
  • I have or have had emotional problems for which I have sought professional help. Although God knows people have tried to make me.
  • I believe in ghosts and the paranormal, I just don’t make it easy for them to convince me.
  • I can't stand being alone.
  • I have at least one obsession at any given time.
  • I weigh myself, pee/poo, and then weigh myself again. No, but that sounds like fun!
  • I consistently spend way too much money on obsessions-of-the-moment.
  • I know what THAC0 means. Who doesn't?
  • I have a signed Tom Servo head.
  • I would rather sit in the same spot doing nothing than do homework. Depends on the subject.
  • I love eating regular flavored Crest toothpaste.
  • I've never been in love
  • I like angry boys too much for my own good.
  • I have made one or more fancharacters for almost every fandom I've ever had.
  • I organize to the extent of being OCD, but my living space is generally a mess.
  • I have, at times in the past, mocked someone else for liking something I thought was stupid, only to become obsessed with it myself. But I have been the mockee in this situation many times. I'm always ahead of the fashion...
  • I have bad taste in music.
  • I like tuna salad on saltine crackers instead of bread.
  • I think people that say that "these are the best days of your life!" to school kids should be taken out and beaten. Repeatedly. Especially if they actually believe it. I am honestly at a loss to understand how anyone could believe it.
  • I own many many books I have never read, and probably never will because no matter how broke I am, I still manage to acquire books almost as fast as I can read them.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

You're Welcome

Sigur Ros – Takk...

After gushing about another Sigur Ros album earlier I was pretty keen to get the new one. It's another incremental but solid development of their signature sound. The differences aren't all that obvious but they're there. Too my ears it sounds a little glitchy, which is a bit of a surprise, there are pops and crackles of static in the background of many songs, and the acoustic instruments sound a little scratchy and play with slightly stuttered rhythms, most notably on the second track Glōsōli. Secondly the songs are somewhat more conventional and accessible than on previous releases. The song structures are more poppy and the ambient noodling is kept in check a little more than on (). The vocals are also more song like, although their singers weird croon is still, well, weird. So having said that it is only slightly more accessible, with many songs still pushing the ten minute mark, and plenty of that Icelandic quirkiness is still present.

The songs are still primarily piano driven and pretty, although at times it does go a little heavier and let the distorted guitars rip over big stompy drum beats. Of course this is still not Rammstein, the music remains distinctly upbeat through and through. Perhaps a little too upbeat, while I noted that Àgætis Burjyn risked falling into tweeness but didn't, this album pushes that boundary a bit more, meaning it can become grating if you're in a bad mood.

I don't quite enjoy this one as much as Àgætis Burjyn , and it's not a huge development from what they've done in the past, but it's still pretty solid. These guys are (in my opinion) one of the bands that in twenty years time will be recognised as having majorly influenced the direction of popular music, but I guess we'll have to wait a while to see if I'm right.

Friday, October 14, 2005

At Last, An Online Magazine That Caters to Me

Modern Drunkard Magazine Online - my kind of people.

Breaking News of the Utmost Importance

Last night Tool had an online chat for members of their fan club (I'm not a member, I don't think it's worth the expense).

According to Fourth Eye:
  1. There'll be a live DVD out before the new album.
  2. A tour with Isis is probable! Even though we probably won't be seeing them for a year or so (and there's no guarantee that Tool will bring Isis out to the antipodes), I'm already about to pee myself with excitement.

Obnoxious Post of the Day, Grumpy Friday Edition

You know I spend a lot of time hanging out with goth/metaller/counter-culture types and I've found that it can lull you into a false impression that most people in the world have reasonable taste in music, and the reason that dire shite like Coldplay, INXS and Nickelback are popular is just some arbitrary product of a big marketing machine combined with the collective ignorance of teenagers and the middle aged.

Then you read something like this, twitching all the way to the bottom of the post (where she suggests that The Datsuns are goth...), and you remember that most people genuinely do like popular music. They base their music tastes on the image and marketing of the performer, and worse than that they actually prefer music that's insipid and boring to music that's original, creative and inspired. (And if you have a delicate disposition like me, don't read the previous post in the series about classical music, it might make you swoon (or put your fist through the wall, depending on how much Soulfly you've been listening to.))

After a stiff drink I felt a little better and began to think about the actual point of the post - is it worth having Creative New Zealand handing out taxpayers money to local musicians. My gut reaction is to say no. If I woke up tomorrow to find that I would never again have to listen to Scribe, The Feelers, The Datsuns or fucking Opshop, I'd be elated. The only CNZ funded artist I can think of who I'd even miss would be Jordan Reyne (but I'd miss her a lot...). My response when hearing about any kind of government funding of art is usually along the lines of “Whatever happened to being a poor suffering artist?” If you really care about what you're doing, it shouldn't matter if you're making a living out of it. Sure it's good if you can but holding a day job isn't going to kill you.

On the other hand it's hard to argue with the success of the governments support of NZ music over the last few years. It's explosion in popularity is simply unbelievable to those of us who remember when admitting that you liked kiwi music at school would get you bogwashed. Sure you can attribute the initial push to the selling out hard work of bands like Shihad, but the public investment is the only thing that can be credited for the full change and the new industry will no doubt do good things for the economy in years to come. So in summary, I like foresighted government spending, I don't like crap pop music, or the people who buy it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Obnoxious Link of the Day

Via Arts and Letters: The point of this article about why the Greeks were better than the Maya is valid, but I find the author's tone rather obnoxious. In particular, this sentence describing the Maya makes me shake my head in disappointment at just how many of their good qualities he has turned a blind eye to:
"[...] murderous and predatory chieftains with little but power, conquest, self-glorification, enslavement, and killing and torture on their minds. Yes: they wore spectacular feather head-dresses. Yes: they built sky-high piles of masonry. But their hands dripped blood—incessantly."
The next big thing: Pirate vs. Ninja vs. Mayans. Now that's what I call REAL ULTIMATE POWER!
“Captives were tortured in unpleasant ways depicted clearly on the monuments and murals (such as yanking fingers out of sockets, pulling out teeth, cutting off the lower jaw, trimming of the lips and fingertips, pulling out the fingernails, and driving a pin through the lips), culminating, sometimes years later, in the sacrifice of the captive in other equally unpleasant ways such as tying the captive up into a ball by binding the arms and legs together, then rolling the balled-up captive down the steep stone staircase of a temple.”

Amusing Link of the Day

Ms. Vile File posts the Seven Habits of Highly Annoying New Zealanders.

Living in Christchurch has given me a lot of experience with number 7:
"From what the author has seen of the rest of NZ, 'Auckland Ways' may include wearing shoes and the ability to eat with one's mouth closed."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I'll Crawl Over Fifty Good Pussies Just to Get to One Fat Boy's Asshole

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads

Since I (belatedly) started getting into Nick Cave's Abbatoir Blues double album I've been picking up random albums from his back catalog here and there, but none of them has impressed me quite as much (although The Boatman's Call is still growing on me). But the other day I got Murder Ballads, which from the first listen more than lived up to Abbatoir Blues.

This album is a collection of songs about death, murder and love, based on the murder ballad tradition. Despite the heavy subject matter Cave's lyrics are often quite humourous. My favorite track is Stagger Lee, which describes the daily activities of 'one mad motherfucker' as he goes around causing havoc. Cave's lyrics are particularly clever and catchy on this song, and I especially like his enthusiastic use of profanity. The most memorable line is that quoted in the title of the post.

Also of note are The Curse of Millhaven, which, with infectiously upbeat backing music, relates the tale of a psychotic fifteen year old girl who preys on the members of the little town of Millhaven, and of course Nick Cave's most successful song Where the Wild Roses Grow, which can attribute it's popularity to the presence of that grating poptart Kylie Minogue.*

The album ends with a very pretty cover of Bob Dylan's Death is not the End, during which various guests and band members each get a chance to sing a couple of lines. And it's only natural that our man Blixa Bargeld gets the coolest line:

When the cities are on fire
With the burning flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end.

Musically this album is not too dissimilar to others he put out at around the same time, although it tends towards being more upbeat because of the less serious mood of some the songs. It's the lyrics that make this album stand out so well, and it's simple concept works to make it a perfect example of a concept album that fits together nice and cohesively. It's definitely given me more impetus to continue collecting Bad Seeds albums.

*For some reason I find her particularly annoying, even when compared to other popstars. Some light can be shed on the cause of this dislike by observing that even when singing a song written by the brilliant Nick Cave, she still sounds like a fucking robot.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Oh, An Egg Comes Out Of A Chicken

Mr. Bungle – Self Titled

So while wandering around the record store in search of something new and interesting to buy I found myself wishing there was a Mike Patton album I didn't already own, and then I realised there was a rather obvious canditate, the first Mr. Bungle album.

The reason I've left off buying this album for so long is because it just isn't quite as good as their later ones. While they still blend a number of diverse genres from metal to jazz, they don't go quite as far afield as they do on their later albums (there are no middle eastern or movie soundtrack styled songs for example), and as a result it is not as varied and unpredictable. But having said that it's still a pretty damn good listen.

Mr. Bungle are more of a joke band on this album than on the later ones, and while a lack of seriousness is never a recommendation in my book, Patton, Spruance and company make up for it quite a bit by actually being pretty funny. I searched the lyrics booklet for a couple of funny lines to quote, but there's nothing that stands well on it's own, most of the humour comes from the general context of the song. About the only bad things I can say about it are that it has a few too many long periods of quiet muttering and vomiting noises, and that it lacks the depth of their later albums.

This is a release from way back, 1991 to be precise, so it's one of Mike Patton's earliest releases. The disturbing (but also somehow humourous) subject matter of this album (including porn, sex with food, a dude who wants to shag his mum, and John Travolta) set the tone for much of the rest of his career as a lyricist.

While it's not as strong as Mr. Bungle's later albums, this one is a classic in some indefinable way that the others aren't. Maybe it's just that it was so original for its time, or maybe it's just that later on, while they grew in talent, their enthusiasm was diminished a little by their increasing fame (which is never good for a determinedly non-mainstream band like these guys).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Big Day Out 2006 First Announcement

The first round of bands were announced for next years Big Day Out today.

Headlining we have:

The White Stripes
Iggy and the Stooges
The Mars Volta
Franz Ferdinand
Kings of Leon

We also have The Living End and Gerling, and a whole bunch of kiwi bands including The Bleeders and Pluto.

Now there are a lot of bands there that I half heartedly wouldn't mind seeing, but absolutely nothing that compels me to splash out for a ticket and a plane ride to the North Island. So at first glance it looks like I will be missing the festival for the first time in eight years...

Normally the biggest bands are announced first (and they've indicated that this year is going to be lower key than the last few, which would explain the lack of really huge names in this announcement), however I have reason to hope that there might be one or two big bands left to be announced.

If you look at the list of bands above you might notice something... that's right, they're all soft cock indie dance-rock bands, and there's not a metal band to be seen (and not a whole lot of electronic or hip hop acts either). So maybe they're announcing things by genre this time around... it's a bit of a strange idea, but I find it pretty strange that there wouldn't be a single metal/hard rock band on the lineup either. Either way, we'll find out in a month or so.

So Korn, the Deftones, Soulfly and Rammstein all have albums out before now and the end of the year, any one of whom would probably persuade me to buy a ticket.

Elsewhere Russel Brown predictably gushes over the same lineup.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This is the Virus, the Virus of Life

(via Joel) The Human Virus Scanner:

My results -

The virus that have infected you will be show here along with thier cures, if known.

Viruses you suffer from:

Install the latest version of Microsoft Windows. Learn to love it.
Life is not a game. Roll 3D6. On a 4 or more go out and do something with your life.
Everyone likes folk. No, really. Maybe you should listen to the Incredible String Band.
CTRL-Break, and get a real computer. Repeat: "Mode 7 was not a good thing."
Stop wearing the stick-on ears.
Polygons, all the polygons you can get are not enough.
Read "God's Debris" by Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert guy)
Try MacOS X. It's based on UNIX, it has a smoother UI than Windows and it doesn't suck.
As an extra feature the boxes look nice.
Stop caring!
Computer Games
Stop staring at the screen and get some fresh air. You should see a doctor about the RSI in your thumbs.
If you find one tell us.

Viruses you might suffer from:

Pokemon (60%)
Pikachu! Use your hyper-electric-get-a-life move now!
USA (70%)
Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves! [repeat]
Junkfood (60%)
Eat some real food. Something which you can identify the source of every ingredient, not the point of manufacture.
UNIX (75%)
Anything this old must be obselete. Go and install a nice modern operating system. I hear MSDOS has come a long way lately.
Discordia (60%)
Buy a suit. Invest your money. Eat hotdog buns on a friday.
vi (90%)
Escape Meta Alt Control Shift.
Brand Names (80%)
Having a well-known name doesn't make it good.
Conspiracy Theory (73%)
Face it, the elected government is in control. Actually that's quite scary.
Hippyism (93%)
Free love is passe and potentially dangerous, and patchouli smells like cat piss.
Environmentalism (70%)
Consume more stuff! It's easier to buy new stuff than to recycle.
Macintosh (80%)
Use a mouse with more than one button.
Prog Rock (60%)
Long hair looks dumb with a bald spot. Listen to CD's they don't crackle.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Classical Music Day 2

So I bought me some more Ravel (for the record that's Ravel: Bolero, Daphnis et Chloe (Suite No. 1), Mar mere l'oye, Valses nobles et sentimentales, performed by the Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Kenneth Jean), this disc in particular caught my eye mainly just because it contains his most well known composition Bolero, as well as some of the stuff off of the album I bought earlier in a more complete form.

Unfortunately it's a bit of a disappointment to me, I feel like a bit of a wank criticising this disc, since I know shit fuck all about classical music, but what the hey, if I can't spout my uninformed opinion onto my own blog, where can I do it? I've been meaning to get round to buying a performance of Bolero for some years, ever since I heard the whole thing on the radio one afternoon. I have no idea who was playing or conducting that version, but the orchestra built itself into such a frenzied, powerful climax that it's stayed with me all these years, despite my never having heard it again. However the performance on this disc is a little limp compared to that one.

I understand that the idea behind Bolero was that of a young Spanish girl dancing in front of a whole bunch of men and driving them to distraction with arousal. Its gradual build up and balance of upbeat and offkey phrases conveys the image perfectly, but it seems on this version they've played it straight and peppy and it doesn't convey the energy (and the hint of madness) of the performance I first heard. They do a good job of the rest of the songs on the CD though.