Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again. 2005, the year of no jive, is ending and 2006, the year of kicks, is soon to begin. Time for me to sign off for a week or so to just chill out with the family. Odds are you won't see anything new here until around January 5, 2006. I know that's a long time to go without a helping of Soulfish Stew, but you'll be okay. I promise. Until next year:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Hippies

A self portrait taken with a 110 around 1994 or so. I never would have thought I could grow a ZZ Top worthy beard, but it was fairly long before I cut it in May of 95. The long hair resulted in people calling me Sammy Hagar. At least I've got something to show people when they ask where Harper Lee got such curly hair.It's alot cuter on her than on me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Would Reagan Do?

Glenn Reynolds is all over the NYC transit workers strike. He's for robot employees, but until that day happens maybe Mayor Bloomberg can take a page from Reagan. Maybe just the mention of air traffic controllers can get the illegal strikers to come to their senses. Or maybe he could just casually remind those picketing that no wall on the Mexican border has been built yet. I'd feel sympathic to those people if they weren't already making salaries in line with those of firemen and policemen.

Backwards Through Time

I looked forward yesterday so today I'm going backwards for an exhaustive look back at the pop culture references I was dropping in 1986 and 1987. From a notebook I titled Everything Sucks. It was a small spiral notebook with 80 91/2x6 sheets. I'd fill two of them up in a year with standard diary issue entries along with drawings, songs, and best of lists. I liked to think of myself as a writer, but re-reading them today I find little real writing. There's also an obvious obsession with consuming the properly sanctioned cool items at the expense of a developing individuality. This is not a horrible thing since I was only 20 when I wrote the stuff.

excerpts from Everything Sucks:

My tape player is blaring out The Kinks and all is well. There's an entry about going to see the White Animals for the first time: clove cigarettes, dyed hair, mohawk Sunday afternoon at Cantrell's nightclub. A drawing of the cover of Pink Floyd's The Wall. I'm listening to 91 Rock. Bob Geldof is now called Sir and Monday's are now an international holiday. "It's Tricky!" Iggy Pop still lives in a trailer park! Charon will ferry me to damnation. Listening to some 70's band wasting time at the gameroom.

There is a list of authors under the heading Def Writers. Ironically they're all white dudes. Kerouac, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, Kesey, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, Mailer, Keats, Coleridge, Rimbaud, Shelly, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Vonnegut, Heller, Hemingway, Faulkner, Corso, & Nietzsche.

There's a drawing of Tom Waits' Small Change album cover. Listening to Charlie Parker. Sounds like West Side Story. Lou Reed and John Cale are knocking my ears about "Lady Godiva". Singing along with The Clash always makes me feel good. I worked the TV Guide crossword puzzle and boy was my brain drained. There's a drawing of the cover of the 25th Anniversary paperback edition of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Strongbox full of ghosts reading Nietzsche and laughing at the ladies smoking Virginia Slims and wetting their fingers before they turn the pages. The Black Flag bars on a page where I write that I should move to Mexico like Kerouac and Burroughs.

There is a list of my favorite movies at the time in no particular order. To Kill A Mockingbird, Wizard Of Oz, Woodstock, Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Breakfast Club, Rebel Without A Cause, St. Elmo's Fire, The Big Chill, Taps, The Deer Hunter, Where The Red Fern Grows, Rocky, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Lady And The Tramp, Over The Edge, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo Man, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Apocalypse Now, Breathless, Breaking Away, and Weird Science. It's a strange mixture of childhood and teenage movies. I still like most of them.

Punk band logos adorn the bottom of the next page: Dead Kennedys, M.D.C., Minor Threat, Subhumans, Black Flag, Vicious Circle, J.F.A., Suicidal Tendencies, G.B.H., Beastie Boys, Circle Jerks, D.O.A., F Particles, & my own fake band Wastoids.

Even them I was obsessing about the past. Here's the story of my first date in 9th grade. A gas company could have possible exploded on the night of my first date with Elaine. We had to take the long way around to get to the game and dance. Riverdale beat Oakland (I was attending Oakland then), but I didn't pay much attention to the game. I played with a Rubik's Cube while I waited in line with Elaine to get into the dance. I danced to "Flame Thrower" with C.J. and Help Me Rhonda while Elaine pouted because she didn't want to boogie. Some other dude even asked if he could dance with her, but I called bullshit on that. When the slow songs played Elaine was on the floor holding me close. This incident is interesting to me more for the fact that I was a regular disco kid throwing down moves with all of the cute girls than the actual romance with Elaine. I would go on to more romances, but I'd never dance like that again unless you count slam dancing.

It's been almost two years since the Flag was in Rolling Stone, but hey man I get to see the Du on March 3rd (Warehouse tour). Spent my last penny and I may have to go alone, but it "Makes No Sense At All" and it shall be wunderbar. It'll be the first band I've seen since R.E.M. that matters. I'll walk if I have to. This is followed by a summary of Norman O. Brown's 1960 Phi Beta Kappa address at Columbia University. I guess I was trying to throw on a little coat of intellectual paint. It peeled pretty quickly.

"Do It Clean" Echo! No more Buddhist mantras. A drawing of a Foster's Lager can. "I think I'll read alot of William Burroughs and be depressed" - Camper Van Beethoven. Mind on! Get the firehose. d. Boon is proud. Will computers erase our humanity? Multiple unflattering references to Reagan. I plop J.D. Salinger into the mix on a page featuring some entirely crappy short story. One page is devoted to a glowing review of the Family Ties episode where Alex's friend Greg gets killed in a car wreck. If that doesn't prove I was a dork I don't know what could. There's a drawing of The Clash at the bottom of the page, even if Topper is missing. There's a drawing of the Flash.

The last pages of Everything Sucks was devoted to a review of the Husker Du show. The interesting bits are that there were kids in grade school at the show, I got pissed that the band was playing the Warehouse album in its entirety, and that their encore version of "Helter Skelter" was the best live music I'd ever witnessed and heard.

That's the end of the trip back into the past. Back in 1986 and 1987 it was so serious, but it seems all so harmless and lightweight to me now. I'm glad it does.

Monday, December 19, 2005

2006 In My Sights

I like to make lists. One of the lists I have is for used books to look for the next time I'm in Chattanooga visiting McKays store. I would let you know what's on that list, but it would probably just bore you. It's significance to this post is that I rarely find any of the books on my list. I could order them online, but it would take the fun out of it. Sure, I'm disappointed most of the time, but on those ocassions when I find a good used copy on my list I'm ecstatic. I've been known to leap up and down in the store yelling "allright!" like a kid finding money on the sidewalk.

The point is that since I like to make lists I usually go all out for New Year's Resolutions. I don't always write them down, but I remember them if I don't. And just like my book list, I usually end up a little letdown later because I'm like millions of Americans: I don't follow through on most of my resolutions. I accepted that long ago. Because part of the appeal of New Year's Resolutions and lists in general is that they posit an ideal world on paper or in your head. The aura of fantasy is an integral component whether it's something as mundane as a grocery list (you're hoping the store has the brand of coffee you need) or your list of goals you hope to achieve.

I run across old lists from time to time and they're fairly consistent. Read more books with an accompanying array of titles, lose twenty pounds...and that's from when I was in high school and almost 60 pounds lighter than I am now (keep in mind that nobody's running around calling me fat - you can pack alot of beers on a 6 foot 3 inch frame), grow out my hair (which I eventually did until it reached my I'm losing what hair I have), start a band (which I did several times), get a newer vehicle, save money, move to Jamaica, write a novel, and so on. A mixture of daydreams and aspirations collide and provide a picture of who I was at a certain period of time and even if I didn't accomplish everything I've set out to it's an endearing image to me.

Since I'm almost to the annual point of the year where, to borrow a phrase from bmarkey, Soulfish Stew will go dark for a few weeks so I can recharge the synapses and such I figured I'd share my resolutions for next year, however mundane they may seem.

So I'm 60 pounds heavier than high school I think I'll drop 40 pounds this year. I've failed at this pursuit many times before, but I bet you I can do it. We'll revisit this one at the end of 2006. I want to find an old typewriter that works and crank out some poorly written stories. The poorly written part will be easy if I can find a typewriter that fits my budget. I want to buy an old used BMW. I've always liked the way they looked and maybe I can get a deal on one. Those last two iitems might not constitute a true resolutions list, but since this is my list they stay. I resolve to be a better father and husband. I'm pretty great already, but there's always room for improvement. I resolve to be more humble.

I resolve to plant a small vegatable garden in the back yard and hope the mole doesn't destroy it. I want to plant some flowers in the front of the house. I want to get a couple of more trees. I also need to get a new lawn mower which will help fulfill my resolution to stop borrowing stuff from the neighbors. I resolve to do a review on my next door neighbor's metal band at some point since they're good at what they do. I will finally make some demo recordings that sound decent. I plan to go swimming some in 2006.

That's the list so far. There will be more added at some point between now and New Year's. Even though I'll fall short of some of these things I wil have an ideal vision to go toward. Ten years from now these goals will be outdated and perhaps quaint. But they'll still be an endearing reminder of my constant hopefullness and propensity to make lists.

The Shareef Don't Like It

Combat Rock anyone?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CD Review: The Hypstrz - Live At The Longhorn

Man, I just can't seem to get my head wrapped around reviewing Live At The Longhorn. I've started to do it, but it just never seems to work. The Hypstrz used to be called King Kustom & The Cruisers (The All Leather Stomp Band) and they played Fifites rock. They decided to change their name and move on to the next decade becoming one of the first Sixties revivalists. The Twin Cities band was inspired by The Ramones and local punk band Suicide Commandos to speed up the cover songs they were playing. This resulted in an explosive sound detonation and with few breaks between songs the Hypstrz live set was a wave after wave sonic assault. That's one way I've thought of beginning a review.

I've also thought about telling of my own historical basis of appreciation. I found an old Bomp Records compilation on vinyl and it featured "In The Midnight Hour" by The Hypstrz. I didn't like the misspelled name (what is it with Twin Cities artist and misspellings), but I loved their raw cover version of a song that I really was tired of hearing. I was thinking about having the band I was in at the time cover some Northern Soul classics and hearing The Hypstrz do a soul classic was just what I needed to give me that sort of confidence.

I could lead with a bit about The Hypstrz artistic bravery to play covers instead of originals. The prevailing musical currents in 1979 were disco and corporate dinosaur rock. Punk rock was becoming post-punk, hardcore, or being packaged as New Wave. The big boom in Sixties revival bands wouldn't happen for another 3 to 4 years. Then there's the simple matter that The Hypstrz preferred playing amped up cover songs to their own material which was sure to alienate the less discerning rock writers and fans. They were unlikely to win over fans wearing screen printed Journey, Styx, or Foreigner concert shirts unless they were covering those artists.

The Hypstrz covered a wide ranging group of artists; 13th Floor Elevators, Standells, The Litter, Chocolate Watchband, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, The Barbarians, Shadows Of Knight, Love, The Music Machine, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Syndicate Of Sound, ? And The Mysterians, The Sonics, Flamin' Groovies, Barry & The Remains, The Troggs, The Pretty Things, Sam and Dave, The Small Faces, The Yardbirds, The Trashmen, and even The Shangri-La's are all tackled on this disc which reissues the rare Bomp album Hypsterization in its entirety along with the band's first 45 release along with a bunch of unreleased tracks. There are 4 original numbers included and they fit seamlessly in with the cover material proving that The Hypstrz could write their own high quality stuff.

But all of this doesn't do justice to how awesome the band sounded. Turn the disc down to a whisper and it still sounds loud. All is given a Hypstrz sheen where, if you didn't know the orignal songs, you would never realize they were covers. Even more phenomenal to me is that they're still out there doing it. Tracks 35-37 were all just recorded last year at a live show. They still rock out with crazed, amphetamine glee. And I still can't think of a way to make my words capture their glory upon the written page. So this will have to do with the hope that you too will go out and get The Hypstrz Live At The Longhorn and join me in being struck dumb in the glory of rock and roll. Guitar, bass, drums, and somebody willing to scream are all you need for a good time.

I'm Gonna Make You Mine mp3
I'm Not Talkin' mp3

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stolen Pony Is Back

Yeah! Jones Violet is back with the Stolen Pony blog, except it's now called Stolen Ponies. She's writing under her own name Jenny and she's writing about Ray Davies. What more could you ask for today!

Beantown Bands

I've never been to Boston, but I have liked alot of bands from that city. I stumbled across this site today after googling the Classic Ruins. Maybe something like this will be done for Nashville rock and roll someday.

Get Your Persian Rugs Now

Get your Persian rugs now, while you still can. The Iranian president is just itching for a beatdown like has never been witnessed before. Israeli's have been conceding territory to the Palestinians, but I doubt they'll put up with much more crap from Iran, especially since they'll be facing nuclear annihilation if Iran is allowed to continue with their nuclear "energy" program. Let's hope some intelligent people in Iran decide they've had enough of the religion of peace's fundamentalist wing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Man, I just noticed that my last two posts were prefaced with the word man. I know that I'm prone to redundancy, but a redundancy spanning two posts is impressive to my bored mind. It reminds me of a story, probably only of interest to me, of my friend Bruno. Bruno was a very intelligent guy. He just missed the cut at Princeton and later he went to Vanderbilt for grad school. So he was super smart, but not an intellectual. Which is one of the reasons I was his friend. I've always been a fan of those who can like professional wrestling and Shakespeare (and what's the big difference anyways), and do so without a trace of irony. Anyways, when we were juniors in high school we had college prep English together. College prep was a given for him, but I had been taking lower level English since 9th grade. I blame Oakland High School for this. I had been in higher level classes all through school and then when I started high school they let me sign up for whatever I wanted. So I did what any aspiring stoner rock and roller kid would do; I signed up for the dumb classes. So by the time I transfered to Riverdale the die was set. By junior year I was determined to show that I did indeed have a brain. Bruno and I always had a good time in the class. The teacher was a strange old lady who liked to go against traditional teaching methods. This meant picnics by Stones River, an entire 6 weeks watching M.A.S.H. episodes, and classroom readings of The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter. Nobody would have taken Bruno for a rock and roll hipster. The dude used to wear a sportscoat emblazoned with buttons he got from work and he worked at Taco Bell. On the surface, he was more doofus than hipster. But he was hip, at least to a point. Part of the doofus appeal was his usage of California surfer slang, which is what got our English teacher mad. During our classroom readings he would inevitably begin to put dude on the end of whatever he was reading. So you'd get this: Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart, dude!
Or this: Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than Proctor is, dude. Man, it was almost as funny as when Perez set a girl's hair on fire. Nothing like that ever happened in the lower level classes.

Put Up Your Dukes

Man, am I so jealous of Todd A. Read his post about meeting the Duke boys.

8 Ball Deluxe

Man, if I ever start making some real money in this world I'm going to buy an old pinball machine for my home. 8 Ball Deluxe would be a good one. I spent a few dollars a week at Family Billiards (once the Pizza Machine) in the 'boro on one of those Bally machines. Pinball was such a meritorious game. Play well and you win free games. Play poorly and you might actually get a match and a free games. There were many pinball games out there that I could often play for hours on just one quarter while everybody else was blowing twenty dollars in a half hour trying to conquer Donkey Kong. I'd have plenty of money left for cigarettes and beer. Damn, if I wasn't a cool hesher kid.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Em Hits Seven

Happy birthday Emily!

Emerson Street Tavern over Instapundit

Ryan over at Emerson Street Tavern took inspiration from what was a small part of my post Odds And Ends and really run with it in his post Sand Dollars Over Starfish. Go check it out.

Just When You Thought

You couldn't hate the mainstream music industry anymore than you already do, they've now decided to go after people posting lyrics and tab online. The story broke earlier this week, but I've waited until today to mention it because Slashdot's many commentator's take on it is now up. I have never seen an industry so dead set on alienating its consumers. Go listen to live local bands. Buy from independent labels. Buy a guitar and make your own music. Of course, I better not let the RIAA know I can play music by ear. I'm sure they'll try to make that illegal too. "Your honor, we caught this man playing a song he learned off the radio. He did not pay for the sheet music!" "But I didn't need the sheet music." "Off with his ears!"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gilbert Giddyup & Speedy McGreedy

I may be a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but I'm sick of this whole big burger thing that's been sweeping the nation the last several years. And now Hardee's has announced some new big chicken sandwich to add to the onslaught of hugeness afflicting our times. I know I'm going against what the market demands, but how about a return to simpler times when Hardee's was just a regional chain that charbroiled their burgers. It's completely selfish of me, but that was when they were my favorite fast food chain.

When I was very little, they only had one restaurant in Murfreesboro and it was located at Mercury Plaza which boasted a Roses, Harveys, and a Cooper & Martin grocery store. This was all the way across town for us so a visit to Hardee's was a big treat. I loved the orange and brown decor. The smell of the burgers cooking over the open flames that would sometimes shoot up into the air like fireworks. Murfreesboro didn't have a Burger King in those days and unless you were grilling the burgers yourself Hardee's was the place to be. They had a catchy theme song that urged people to "hurry on down" to Hardee's.

They even had their own set of cartoon character mascots in order to keep up with McDonalds. The two that I can remember are Gilbert Giddyup, their good guy Ronald McDonald sort, and Speedy McGreedy who was a hamburger stealing misfit like the Hamburglar. I liked the Western motiff. It fit in well with cooking burgers over fire. I figured the McDonalds mascots wouldn't stand a chance if it came down to a cartoon brawl with the Hardee's bunch.

I also just plain liked the Hardee's burgers better. I usually would get a single hamburger, but sometimes I might get a Big Twin - the Hardee's version of a Big Mac. A McDonalds burger was bland in comparison to the smoky charbroiled goodness of Hardee's. The day I learned that a Hardee's was being built on my side of town was a very happy day.

It was built just off the corner of Broad and Lokey Street. It would be within walking distance during the times I lived in town. They had some land behind the restaurant for parking, outside dining, and even better; a playground which would contain the coolest thing I think I had ever seen. It was a robot that stood 3 stories tall with enclosed slides for arms. You had to climb into the robot which had a ladder running through the middle of it. The second level was where you could get into one of the slides. Since there were two slides you'd have to race your friends. When that got dull you could climb into the third level where you could jump around and cause the robot to shake.

There was also a swingset, a spiral slide shaped liked a rocket ship, and some other things. And the ground was covered in sand. Whenever I'd visit, I'd wolf my food down as quick as possible so I could hit the playground with a vengeance. At that point, it wouldn't have mattered if Hardee's food tasted like dirt since I was likely to end up inhaling plenty of sand before I left.

But there are other things in my memory besides the playground. My parents almost always worked at separate times when I was growing up. At this period my father worked a day shift and my mother worked nights. My father wasn't much on cooking so we'd usually stop off at a fast food place after he'd pick me up from the babysitter's house. Hardee's was very convenient so we went there at least twice a week; sometimes more.

Now my father hates the drive-thru. So we would always stop and go in and order our meals to go. When he figured out I could be trusted with the money and our order he would wait in the Ford Ranger while I went in and ordered. I always tried to go through the prettiest lady's line and soon I had made a friend of a young high school age girl. She was so cool she remembered what I'd order (we always got the same stuff every time) and when she saw me come in she would start ringing it up. I always got a plain burger so they'd have to cook it right then and if the place wasn't busy she'd have a conversation with me. I was only in the 5th grade, but I was smitten with her.

She wasn't there very long and I was sad when I didn't see her when I'd come in. Time passed and as is always the case; stuff happens. I recall a walk from Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School on a sunny spring day with my 6th grade class to have lunch at Hardee's. A car would crash through the dining area one morning, and while nobody was hurt, it did precipitate a dreadful remodeling job. I still liked to play
on the playground even though I wouldn't have admitted it once junior high school began. I used to walk over from my house and just hang out there. By the time 9th grade started it was a good place to go and smuggle a smoke in the top of the robot.

The once mighty charbroiled burgers didn't taste as good to me. The quality of the food was declining. Wendy's and Gatti's Pizza were the place to eat in high school. The cartoon mascot characters were long gone. About the only time I'd visit was when I needed to use the restroom. The summer after high school graduation I decided to wear a red bandanna on my head and the Hardee's manager saw me enter the restroom. The next thing I knew somebody was banging on the door. I figured it was my friends so I told them to bug off loudly and profanely. I was a bit surprised to find the manager staring at me when I opened the door. He gave the bathroom a good going over and once he figured out I had only used the place for its purpose he sort of apologized and that was it.

I know I had not been a loyal consumer, but the Wendy's on Church Street was clean, the service was better, and the Flurry topped Hardee's watery milkshakes; but then Hardee's had to really break my heart by doing away with charbroiling. They started cooking their burgers just like McDonalds. The only food I would eat at Hardee's would be breakfast food. Like many of the places where I spent time as a kid, the playground would be removed. The robot dismantled. The rocket ship crashed.

I sometimes gave in to my sentimental feelings and tried the new items Hardee's would offer. But it was always terrible. I tried one of those big Angus burgers not too long ago. It tasted like congealed sawdust mixed with rubber. There's no way they can get me to "hurry on down" these days. The chain now serves as an unlikely
metaphor of life to me now. Fun and innocence, corruption and dissolution, and now an over abundance and indulgence that can never satisfy. I need you Gilbert Giddyup.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Coffin Lids

I reviewed this one exclusively for Blogcritics and I had a little bit of fun with it creating a retrobate drunken critic persona that might have been reality twenty years ago, except I would have been too drunk to write. A summary of the review: The Coffin Lids rock.

Odds And Ends with no parenthetical sense at all

Honey can only come in bear shaped containers in my house. It may just be me, but I feel sad that Stevie Nicks never had a child. I've gotten back to where I can imagine that cold weather is really hot. I've been listening to lots of classical music and punk for the last several days and not much in between. I need to re-read A Separate Peace...damn that film Sideways! Now the wife will probably find me crying at the end of it. My twenties were termed my lost years. I guess my thirties have been my found ones. I wonder what the forties will bring starting next November. My kids got almost as much candy at a Christmas parade on Sunday as they got at Halloween. I'll have to make the ultimate sacrifice and eat much of it so they won't get fat. Oh, the sacrifices a parent makes. I'll take Jung over Freud. Benjamin Orr over Ric Ocasek. Grant Hart over Bob Mould even though I like Mould's solo material much better than Hart's. The current debate about Christmas versus Happy Holidays is linguistically interesting, but I'm much more concerned about those upside down Christmas trees I keep seeing. The reasoning that an upside down tree will better display one's ornaments and that there will be more room under the tree for presents isn't convincing. I like that you have to invest some effort to see all of the ornaments on our tree and I always thought it was nice that the presents are under the shelter of the tree. But an upside down tree was a tradition before Martin Luther came along, you say. Okay then, I just think it looks dumb. I wish someone would buy me a bicycle. The reason why I'm anticipating spring is because I'm going to get a new push mower. The only thing missing from my life(besides a bicycle) is a treehouse.

The Sisters

Both of them named for authors: Harper Lee and Emily Elizabeth. I adore them, even though I caught them climbing into the dryer last night. They got lectured on curiousity killing the cat.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Spidey Sense

Sure, these quiz deals are a bit geeky and perhaps lame to be blogging about, but hey I'm Spiderman and I couldn't be happier about it, although I am a bit disturbed about the 45% Supergirl rating.

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CD Review: The Invisible Eyes - Laugh In The Dark

The Invisible Eyes say their music is like a caveman riding in a spaceship. It's an apt description from a hypnotic quartet of rock and roll primitives whose debut has just been released on the Bomp label. Laugh In The Dark features straight out of the garage sonics recorded at Egg Studios by Conrad Uno. The operative phrase here is not "more cowbell" but "more fuzz" please. The Invisible Eyes are a potent mixture of Sixties beat, blues, and psychedelia.

Aubrey Nehring is the guitarist and vocalist. Ian Barnett helps stabilize the entropy on bass. Adam Svenson pounds the drums. Janet Hurt plays the keys in such a way as to suggest that Shirley Scott and Ray Manzarek once had a love child. It all mind melds together with such protean ease you'll know that the link to the primordial ooze and clamor of our past is but a short one. Unfettered joy awaits fans of troglodyte stomp with this album.

There are 16 tracks in all and while there are some slight ones there's nary a bad one to be found. Some of them do stand out a little bit more than their brethren songs. The raver "No Words" pumps around with enough swagger to make an arterio-sclerotic go-go dancer cry. There's a blues heavy heart behind "Don't Wanna Go" that will have you reaching for another beer since you'll have shed a tear into the one you were drinking.

"Mother Of Mystery" hits all the right notes while leaving me thirsty for some burning wine. Maybe I need to listen to the lyrics again. Nehring lets loose with a wah-wah pedal on "Long Way" and it attacks Hurt's keys in an echoing hypno-groovetastic crescendo of hyperventilating melody and noise that reveals the potentate nature of The Invisible Eyes. Give them purple velvet and crown jewels post haste. Then on the final song of the record they flip it all around for "That Old Song..." with its folkie wail showing there's more to this bunch than just fuzztone and carnival organ sounds.

So find your inner caveman and take a ride with The Invisible Eyes. The trip is spacesuit optional, but don't forget to bring your dancing shoes. Laugh In The Dark is a blast.

Stolen Pony

Sigh, I wish somebody would bring the stolen pony back soon.

Liam & Harp

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Paranoid" - It's not a happy song!

VH1 was re-broadcasting the UK Music Hall Of Fame Sunday night and the Soulfish wife starting watching it when she noticed some old footage of The Kinks. Soon I joined her and saw the Pink Floyd induction and Black Sabbath one. Then the mighty original line up of Sabbath performed "Paranoid" and what little bit of my teenage angst I had left crumbled to dust. It wasn't the specatacle of 50 year old men rocking out. Since the young kids seem more inclined to steal old songs and recycle them as hip hop trash somebody needs to rock out; it might as well be the senior citizens of the world. What did me in was shots of the audience clapping their hands with glee and Ozzy exhorting them to do it some more.

It would make me beyond happy to see Black Sabbath live. I would probably applaud them too. But I don't think I would be smiling like an oblivious idiot during their show. Their name isn't Black Sabbath for kicks. The music is ominous, loud, and dark and the lyrics to the songs are the same. Somebody remarked (I believe it was Tommy Lee) that they were the opposite of the fun and the sun Beach Boys so why was the UK audience acting like they were at a beach party? "Paranoid" is not a fun, hand clapping song.

Here's what Lester Bangs had to say about it from the June 1972 issue of Creem in an article titled "Bring Your Mother To The Gas Chamber":

People are strange, when you're a stranger. It's a melodrama of alienation, just as "Paranoid" is a terse, chillingly accurate description of the real thing, when you suddenly find that you've somehow skidded just a fraction out of the world as you have and other still do perceive it. "Paranoid" renders perfectly the clammy feeling of knowing that at this point there is absolutely no one on the planet to whom you can make yourself understood or be helped by. All alone, like a real rolling stone; it's no wonder in such circumstances that the imagination might get a little hairy, and turn to dreams of science-fiction revenge. I've felt the arctic wedge of disjuncture myself at one time and another, stuck in the painful place where you can only send frozen warnings cross the borderline and those inevitably get distorted. Because they've captured it so well Black Sabbath means a lot to me and a lot of my friends for "Paranoid" alone.

So lets all clap our hands like we're at a party okay? I don't think so. Maybe I can't find true happiness or perhaps I'm blind, but shouldn't such a chilling tune have a chilling effect?

The very fact that they were being enshrined should have sent little prickles of danger through me. And yesterday it was announced that Black Sabbath would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame along with Miles Davis, Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Blondie; all artists that I love. And I wonder whether they are being enshrined for their art or that were able to turn rebellion and iconoclasm into money better than others.

Because that's what it all comes down to: selling fantasy worlds to teenagers. There's this idealistic vision of rock stars being tortured artists being exploited by the huge corporations that release their music, but I don't doubt for a minute that those artists don't exploit the market on purpose themselves. I bet they sit in boardrooms with the record executives plotting ways to capture a certain demographic. If you believe otherwise you're either a deluded romantic who hasn't grown up or you're a kid. After all; I bought Black Sabbath's Paranoid album at Wal-Mart. I was probably 14 years old.

Maybe the people at the UK show had it right after all. To them "Paranoid" isn't a great piece of rock and roll art. It was only a product used to sell the Black Sabbbath brand and it was big hit which meant lots of people made lots of money off it. Whatever meaning the lyrics and song possessed were ripped from it the minute it left the pressing plant because it's only music. Music to be bought and sold. Which is what those vapid faced rock and roll careerists clapping their hands signifies. It's just great music. But when I was 14 that music meant something beyond the confines of the everyday.

I bought into the fantasy world those cocaine snorting sharks in their record label satin jackets were selling. I gave my money, my time, and a lifestyle to it. And I've found it was an ephemeral thing. There is an expiration date on it. They'll try to convince you there isn't with all of the repackaged CD's and classic rock radio stations. It's a wonderful thing when groups like The Eagles reunite and milk their fans for all they can. Those fans love it too. I guess it's the chance to bask in the glow of your youth once again.

But I don't want to bask. I want the music I love to be timeless. I want it to be a well of inspiration or consolation (and sometimes I just want it to rock) that I can return to time and again. It's a shock to realize that the well is poisoned and much of the meaning and significance I've afforded things is a debilitated one. I should clap my hands and be happy. But I can't. Why should I? It's not like I'd have to worry about people thinking I'm insane because I'm frowning all the time.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ahh, Sweet Boredom

Thanksgiving was fairly dismal as expected. Lunch at the in-laws was terrible. There was no chance of me gaining weight that day. Luckily nobody was hurt when the pyrex container of dressing exploded. It had been placed on an unlit stove burner that somebody then decided to turn on. I didn't see it from my perch in the living room, but I heard it make a nice pop. And no, I wasn't the one that turned the stove on. It ruined what my wife said was the best dressing she had ever made, but I never eat dressing so I can't vouch for it one way or the other.

I went home by myself after the meal since my neck and shoulder were giving me fits. They'd been hurting ever since I had spent Monday night and all of Tuesday sick in bed. Left to my own devices I watched a little of the Legacy DVD release of To Kill A Mockingbird which I got a week or so ago, but I found myself dozing off so a full investigation of the contents would have to wait. Once I figured out I wasn't going to be able to get a real nap in (when I moved I woke up because of pain) I puttered around listening to some old cassettes. Then I decided that I should re-read the novel To Kill A Mockingbird because I had forgotten some things from it. When you name one of your children Harper Lee you really shouldn't be forgetting things from that book.

The Soulfish wife was still suffering from the virus that Emmy brought from school so when she got home she made the girls peanut butter sandwiches and went to bed. I fed Liam and gave him a bath and then hit the couch myself. I watched Daddy Daycare with the girls. They enjoyed the movie immensely, especially when the kid poops all over the bathroom.

After they went to bed I had the living room to myself so I watched some television aimlessly until I noticed that TCM was showing Shenandoah. I had never seen the film starring James Stewart, but I knew that it featured Phillip Alford (who played Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird) and I was curious to see him in his only other cinematic role. Soon I was captured by the storyline of a father and his family trying to stay neutral during the Civil War. It made the pain in my shoulder and neck go away for a brief while.

Saturday was my birthday and I happened to feel miserable wondering if the pain in my neck and shoulder were perhaps age related. We drove to Murfreesboro to have lunch at my mother's and was surprised to find my second cousin Freddy's mother there with Frankie. Frankie is Freddy's five year old kid so Em and Harp were excited to have somebody new to play with.

It was slightly surreal watching my kids play in the backyard with Frankie. I spent so many Saturdays and summer days playing Hot Wheels with Freddy when we were little, going to the skating rink as junior high kids, and then playing lots of basketball during the high school years before losing touch with each other and here were our kids repeating the cycle.

We got home and I thought the girls might like The Goonies since it was on television. The oldest one got bored with it, but the youngest girl took the opportunity to stay up until 9:30 and watched it with me. I used to really like the movie, but I found it very annoying Saturday. Why does every child character in the movie scream all the time? Almost all of the dialogue consists in yelling out the obvious. It's a case of the Hollywood blockbuster overblown syndrome.

Sunday was as dull as could be and that was good. Even my neck and shoulder pain had been dulled. The wife got the Christmas tree put up with the help of our kids and the two girls down the street. I figured that would be a disaster, but they actually did help.

Then I recorded a new tune to send out as part of my free song deal. And the weekend was over. And while it wasn't all gravy, I'm thankful as can be. Boredom can be nice you know.

Look for some reviews of the latest Bomp records releases soon among other things.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Sickies

Thanksgiving is just a day away and it's ruined. The entire Soulfish clan is either sick, getting sick, getting over being sick, or at least thinking about one or the other. It started Saturday night with Em ralphing all over her bed. I thought she might have just been car sick since we had taken a road trip along the winding highway 56, but by Sunday we knew she had a bug. Monday she was back to normal, but by 8:30pm I was done for: the bug had leaped to me. So wipe away a day and a half for me. I'm recovered from that, but the sore neck I got last week is back with a times two vengeance. By 10:00pm Tuesday the wife and Liam had decided to party with the viral infection. At this point we're thinking Thanksgiving may still be saved, but Em had to wake up this morning even sicker than before so the locale of the celebration, which was to have been at our home, has been moved to the in-laws which means dry turkey city if we can even get well enough to go. Of course, that's the benefit of a family - you all go through everything together. Middle child Harper has announced that she's not getting sick and so far she has managed just that proving once more that she is the most independent and toughest of our bunch.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Scots and Boondocks

Is it weird that my Sunday night viewing was The Boondocks and Tartan TV? In one show you have granpa dating a garden tool and in the other you got a documentary on the opening of a new parliament building. I'll leave it to you to guess which show was which.

Feats Of Strength

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and while I love the holiday, especially since my birthday happens either on it or around it every year. This year my birthday is on Saturday so how about clicking on my wishlist and getting me something good. But another holdiday is right around the bend. No, I'm talking about Christmas, it's Festivus time, that fun time of the year when we get to air grievances and compete in the Feats Of Strength. And to think, it all began from a father trying to buy his son a doll. There's even a Festivus blog.

CD Review: Toxic Shock - Die Next!

Die Next! by Toxic Shock sounds like what would have happened if The Dickies had been from Texas and been fronted by Michael Quercio of the Three O'Clock. Reputed band members: Johnny Now was the guitarist, Sue Side played bass and contributed vocals, drums were handled by Chris Dubbins, and the band was led by guitarist/vocalist Lance Savage. Real names might not be proof and there's some debate about whether these four separate people ever actually existed providing an Archies type mystery to the band almost as captivating as fellow Texan Jandek, but the music is sonic proof enough that if Toxic Shock is just the case of a musical Svengali having some fun we should feel lucky for it. Cavedweller Records roducer Randy Elliott could be the one pulling the strings, but he's not saying anything other than the band can be reached through his website San Jose Vision.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Toxic Shock is that their music is the result of a misguided intital comprehension of what punk rock was supposed to be. They though it was supposed to be raw, fast, loud, and about death. So you get 4 songs with death or dead in the title and several more where the reaper puts in an appearance. What's intriguing is that this fixation is not crass, macabre, or disgusting. There is a Shaggs like innocence behind the tales of terror within. There are some serious parts, but most of the tunes come off with a spirit of fun and naivete only the true beginner would have. It's fresh and disarming especially with several attempts at R.E.M. jangle pop included.

The album begins with the ominous spoken word into to "Black Death" before launching into some two chord thrash rock. Songs about the plague just never go out of style do they? "Voodoo Village" recalls Idiot era Iggy. Disappointment and heartbreak are almost as bad as death so there are two versions of "She Was The Girl" included; the second is an unlisted bonus track recorded live in Europe on the Wicked Witch Tour that may or may not have ever happened. The "live" version is the better one with all of the pop pretension drained out it. "No Quarter" is what you get on a song that showcases Toxic Shock's surf and destroy type thrash.

"Tombs Of The Blind Dead" is based on the Italian horror film of the same name. It gets a little grisly since Betty gets eaten alive by some hungry zombies. The aggro "Death Merchants" is based on a soldier's t-shirt who had just returned from war. The song "Bone Circus" resembles nothing less than second album Meat Puppets. The original version of "Black Death" is also included along with the bonus, bouncy, jangle pop cut of "Don't Wanna Be Here". The best song on the album has to be "Dead Til Proven Alive" which features the lament of a high school age hermit whose parents are concerned because he doesn't want to go out on dates or do the standard high school age things. Some people are just late bloomers and "Dead Til Proven Alive" takes this to heart in much the same way as the lyrics to Bowie's "Changes" do. Toxic Shock are quite aware of what you're going through.

It really doesn't matter whether Toxic Shock exists as a real band or is just the fantasy of somebody down in Texas. Rock and roll in general is a fantasy world filled with dream peddlers with most of us looking to escape anywhere from 3 minutes at a time to longer if we're in the mood to listen to an entire album. Die Next! provides just such an escape.

Bubblegum Finking

Once I put a link on the sidebar I don't usually call attention to it again, but in Bubblegum Fink's case I think I should. He's added a slew of contributors to the blog and it's exploding with even more bubblegummy goodness these days. It's a must visit every day if you like pop culture ephemera.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I wasn't ever that big a fan of Aquaman or DC Comics in general. I was a Marvel fan, which means I'd take Prince Namor The Submariner over Aquaman any day. But a recent article at Retrocrush has me thinking I really should try to find some of the old Aquaman comics and give him a try. The article is an appreciation of Aquaman and a diatribe against those who have tried to remake the character into something more adult. Try this excerpt on for size: I felt it necessary to write this article because the problem with Aquaman is really reflective of a larger problem in our culture. We are constantly leaping forward without first looking back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

22 Songs In 32 Days

I bought an electric guitar and amplifier in 1989. I taught myself how to play by listening to Ramones records. I was the "singer" in a band called The Dislocated when I got the guitar. Singer is in quotation marks because I couldn't really sing. I still don't think I'm much in that department, just the other side of horrible really. I wrote the lyrics to The Dislocated songs, but I was also wanting to write some music. Before the band split I had learned enough to write lyrics and music to "Hippie Bus" and "What Do You Want From Me" and I almost felt like a real musician.

This led to further exploits in the land of music which I've chronicled here before. The last gig I played was in January of 1998 with Jimmy Cunningham and Bret Wilkinson from Jack backing me up as The Most. I had always planned on The Most becoming a real power pop band, but I never really pursued finding others to back me full time. I kept writing songs even if I wasn't going to be playing them live. I recorded rough demos of them on a cheap 4 track and I've shared them with a few people.

Now I want to share my songs with you, the loyal Soulfish Stew reader, in an unprecedented (perhaps) internet event I'm calling 22 Songs In 32 Days. What I'm proposing is this: I will send you 22 songs over the course of 32 days beginning November 21st. They will be in the mp3 format. The novelty of this event is that I will record each song the night before I send it to you. So sonically they're not going to be all that special. And I don't have a drum kit so don't expect many beats. Some will just be me and an acoustic guitar. But they will be guaranteed to have been done just the night before.

There will be a mix of some of my old material re-done, newer stuff I've yet to record, and at least 3 songs I haven't even made up yet. The style will veer from power pop to punk and somewhere in between. After 32 days you'll have enough of my stuff to make your very own CD that you can either play for pleasure or use to get annoying people to leave your room.

Why am I doing this? It might be simple narcissism or just the impulse to throw my songs out there to see if they can make it out there in the cold, cruel world. I could say it has everything to do with sharing my creativity and artistic nature, but I hate that sort of talk in addition to not being able to believe it if I said it. I don't even consider myself a musician. That's something far more talented people than me are. Ultimately sharing the songs comes down to this: it's something fun to do and hopefully it will bring some fun to you too.

So if you want to get 22 Songs In 32 Days just send me an email and I'll put you on the list of recipients. If you're an old friend of mine I've probably already got you down so you might want to send me an email asking me to let you off. Ha-ha! wallybangs AT hotmail dudes and dudettes!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The South's Gonna' Do It Again

Well, it's been 140 years since The War Between The States (only Yankees call it the Civil War) ended and the South's gonna finally get its revenge as Big & Rich hit NYC on the CMA Awards Show. I know it's harsh and probably more than the North deserves, but here's hoping Big & Rich get captured so Nashville won't have to put up with them or their Musik Mafia again.

Tin Tub Bucket

No posts the last few days because: I wrecked a car Saturday which was fairly depressing and mildly traumatic. So I didn't have the time nor the inclination to write the music reviews I had planned. After 11:00AM I spent the rest of the weekend trying to get control of a sloppy house figuring it was the one area of my life that should be in control, unlike a highway in which another driver can decide to make a left into your lane with no indication that this is about to take place. Then I got the new Oxford American in the mail so I read the article on the painter Carroll Cloar and felt like I met up with a long lost relative. His paintings were a time portal for me and it was like I was a child growing up all over again during the many barefoot North Mississippi summers (never mind that his locale was Arkansas)I spent visiting my grandmother who lived in a house almost identical to this one painted by Cloar.
Her house had no air conditioning. No television. Just a radio-clock that could only pick up the local Ripley, MS country station. It had a bathroom, but for some reason the bathtub leaked so it became a home of boxes of mason jars and spiderwebs. The bathroom was tiny and cramped and lit by a naked light bulb with a pull string. The window in the room was boarded up and you always hoped the light bulb would work during the night as you wouldn't want to get stuck in the dark with the spiders. Without a bathtub we had to bathe in a big tin tub bucket in the middle of the kitchen and dining area where your relatives would wander the whole time. It was embarrasing to say the least, but a cold dip in the tin tub wasn't too bad after a day when the temperatures easily hit a hundred degrees.

The house in Cloar's painting probably had 4 rooms. That's all that in my grandmother's place. The living room doubled as her bedroom. She wouldn't sleep in the real bedroom which was stuffed with a bed, a dresser, and mountains of junk. Then there was a kitchen and dining area combo. She had a washer in there too, maybe even a dryer (all I remember is clothes being hung on the line in the back yard). And then the little bathroom. Here's a peek into the kitchen.

By the time I came along, the little table would be replaced by a huge freezer. The door to the bathroom would be gone, replaced by a sheet creating a hall where the washer was before a new door to the bathroom that never opened properly was placed.

I know this post is getting sentimental, but sentiment is not a bad thing. I will dare to utter what sounds like a cliche - for such a small house, there was alot of love there. And on a day like last Saturday I was in need of some love and my memories triggered by Carroll Cloar's art were the first salvo back against the chaos that life was throwing. My own loving family took care of the rest.

Friday, November 11, 2005

CD Review: Western Addiction - Cognicide

"Nil by mouth with prophetic paint" - Western Addiction

It's true that you can think something to death which is what the title, Cognicide, of Western Addiction's new album means. Punk rock often veers between extremes of too much thinking and too little. Western Addiction straddles the fence both musically and lyrically while recalling the greatest hardcore punk of the past. The song "The Church Of Black Flag" isn't on the album for nothing.

Cognicide takes me back to those days when I first started going to punk shows. I was just a young suburban dope on punk scared and thrilled at the same time venturing into the middle of a slam dance at a Circle Jerks show. It was sparsely attended, but I was in awe of the punks milling at the front of the stage. Leather jackets, died hair, mohawks, and Doc Martens stood in stark contrast to my jeans and a tee-shirt. The opening band was some high school kids who made up for their lack of ability by their intensity. Then the Circle Jerks came on and delivering a ripping set of hardcore punk and goofball metal. Western Addiction recalls that era of the 80's well.

"Charged Words" opens the record with a wallop that you should get used to because there's no let up. Revel in the fun noise and paranoia of "Mailer, Meet Jim" which has the timely lyric line "so forget husbandry and no more baking bread, one careless crow and now I'm f**king infected." There'll be no striking a pose with "We Tech Supported A Manipulator" and "Incendiary Minds" channels Greg Ginn in its intro. "It's Funny, I Don't Feel Like A Winner" is a slamming stomper that should inspire some black eye mosh pits worldwide. "Matrons Of The Canals" has a groovy intro that has an ominous Dead Kennedys vibe. Most songs begin ponderously slow until exploding into vehement shards of melody among the noise.

Western Addiction bear a reverence to the past without falling victim to mere homage or parody. If you thought great punk was no longer happening. That it had only become something you could buy at a Hot Topic store, think again. Cognicide is right up there with with some of the best punk albums ever recorded.

business on top

and party on the back! Mother Tongue Annoyances has a nice piece on the ever denigrated mullet haircut today. I may have let my hair grow to my shoulders once during the 90's...I resembled Sammy Hagar, but I never rocked a mullet. Now, old pal Gonz was always treading dangerously close to a mullet look during its heyday, but he had nothing on our munchkin friend Crick. Dude could rock a serious blond mullet that would blow in the wind as he drove his Pontiac LeMans (or was it a Bonneville?) down the road after school.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CD Review: Mad Science Fair - ...For A Better Tomorrow

What if I'm just too pooped to power pop? Mad Science Fair is the latest power pop / hard rock band to cross the threshold into my house and it's either due to the onset of Epstein-Barr or that Mad Science Fair just isn't all that good to blame for the disinterest and boredom I find whenever I cue up For A Better Tomorrow on the CD shuffle machine.

Mike Clayton formerly of Hot Glue Gun is the man behind the band. The album is produced by Adam Schmitt who has released his own share of underrated power pop gems himself. The label is Mud which is being distributed by Parasol. The ingredients promise crunchy melodies and rousing choruses. Song titles fit the bill: "All I Do Is Wrong", "Shot On Sight", "Retro Anthem", and "Green Day vs. Weezer" will entice you to hear them.

After you hear them you start to wonder about the group's chance of winning a prize at the science fair of rock, mad or not. "No Room For Error" leads off well even while siphoning off more Foo Fighters than Beatles. The Posies's influence is all over "All I Do Is Wrong" making it the standout track. Then the album heads off into mid-tempo adult alternative land; a place I always find unhospitable. A song called "Retro Anthem" should have a huge guitar sound and rousing choruses, but the song strikes a middling pose early and carries it through to the end.

The song title "Green Day vs. Weezer" had me thinking the tune would be novel and fun. Instead it's more medium paced plodding with a refrain of "We're getting older, we're getting older" that hints of some generational struggle going on in Clayton's head. Just come and say which side you're on. "Leave Me Alone" has the cold appeal of The Cars if they were on steroids going for it, but we all know what steroids does to certain body parts.

I wish that Mad Science Fair would just let it loose once and rock out with some abandon approaching enthusiasm. For A Better Tomorrow is too studied and sterile to convince me or inspire me. Maybe next time Mad Science Fair can posit a future where rock and roll can still touch a primal nerve and prove that power pop can rock

Raisin Box Lore

I really like raisins. I eat them for a snack at work most every afternoon. My Sun-Maid raisins box bears this advice on its lid: Don't get lost, get directions. I'll have to think about that. I'm heading full speed toward 39 thinking and so it begins: the mid-life crisis. There's a deep urge to recalculate, reevaluate, and restate various facets of my life; box up the books, the records, and compact discs, throw out my closet and start anew. Flip everything around and see how it stands just to face facts: odds are good that half my life is over. Done. Finished. The choices are multi-plex multiple screenings with elements of reversion and conversion all vying for my attention. And then Liam learns how to say "yum". Harper gets a goal in her last soccer game of the year. Emmy gets all A's on her 1st grade report card. The Soulfish wife looks more beautiful than ever. I receive an email out of the blue complimenting this blog. Jones Violet finds herself singing a song I wrote. So the mid-life crisis comes to a halt before it does much damage. Though I still have a nagging compulsion to buy a red car.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

CD Review: Lagwagon - Resolve

The latest release by Lagwagon is tough to critique. Resolve is a bitter pill full of emotional lows and musical highs. Skate punk's ebullience meets real world tragedy. This isn't just about crashing at the bottom of the vertical in a snake run bowl session. It's a thematic and dramatic meditation on the suicide of Lagwagon's original drummer Derrick Plourde. That it doesn't resort to Afterschool Special crassness or devolve into mere exploitation is a credit to Lagwagon, but Resolve's biggest hurdle in listening enjoyment is that the final work of art becomes very hard to separate from the final act that was its inspiration. As the name of the lead off track says, this is "Heartbreaking Music."

A line like "But I wish I were as smart as you I could have changed your mind" is as blunt as it can be and the musical juxtaposition becomes even more forceful accompanied by backing that wouldn't have been out of place on an early All album. "Automatic" manages to be uplifting with its defense of the mundane sharpened by Joey's vocal on the verses which recall the clipped anguish of Kurt Cobain either by coincidence or on purpose. Despair and love run circles throughout the album. The wondering, the questioning, and the eulogizing are not held back. There's straight up melodic punk like "Runs In The Family" to the impetuous thrash of "Rager" to the dynamic groove of "Infectious" all encapsulated by the same grieving spark.

Resolve might be tough for the millions who love Lagwagon to take. Joey even eludes to this on the last song "Days Of New" where he mentions "the mushy shit that people sing" knowing that one man's catharsis is another's sentimental wail, but most will surely not resist such a sincere coming to grips. It's a tribute both to the departed and to the present. Resolve is available through Fat Wreck Chords and all finer independent record stores.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Missed Posting Picks

Since I missed posting my college football predictions last week due to my back trouble I've decided to pull the plug on this season and just accept my final record of 55-35 picking winners and 35-55 picking against the spread. It seems like a nice symmetrical finale. If you liked the college predictions posts you can always go visit Vindy's Picks.

Bad Back

I've been out of commission since Wednesday with a bad back. It's no fun when you can't walk due to back spasms. I reinjured a lower back muscle that had incapacitated me for 5 days 3 years ago. All it took was a twist the wrong way. So that's why I've not been posting. I'm back on my feet again so the posts should commence again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Stiffs

When punk rock met Victorian dress The Stiffs were formed. They were also known as Stiffs Incorporated. Some of their early singles are posted for your listening delight. Just crank up the Victrola.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Halloween Past

I know this will raise the ire of the Soulfish wife who often accuses me of wallowing in the past like a hog in a mudhole; here's an essay I wrote about Halloween for Goblinhaus last year. It's about the last time I went trick or treating as a kid and the November 1st that followed.

There comes a time in life when you have to give up certain things. Trick or treating is one of these things. Sure, I go with my daughters (and Liam went this year) now, but I'm not actively pursuing tricks or treats. Teenagers going from house to house are usually sad kids trying to hold onto the past or obnoxious jerks trying to greedily grab more candy than the little kids. Teenagers exist in a prolonged liminal state, liminal meaning in between. They're not adults, yet they shouldn't act like children.

The autumn of 1980 saw me in the same situation. I was 13 years old. I wouldn't play with my Hot Wheels cars in public, but I had mighty drag races inside my home. My parents wouldn't let me cross the main highway on my bicycle, but I would anyways. I was too old to trick or treat, but I was too young to go out with the older guys who were going to camp out in the local cemetery. The evening began with no clue as to how it would turn out. What proceeds is an attempt to capture a little of the flavor of that night 24 (now 25) years ago.

My best friend Jay was going out rolling houses and then he was going to spend the night in the cemetery. I was so jealous of him and mad at my parents for not letting me go. I was determined I was going to have some fun. The evening grew darker and I started walking around the neighborhood. I hooked up with two other friends and we started telling ghost stories. At some point we decided we would soap some windows. We get to the first house when the owner sees us and invites us up to her porch.

Even though none of us were dressed up, she gave us candy. We didn't soap her windows and then the very same thing happened at the next home. We decided to go home, do what we could for costumes, and go trick or treating after all. I rushed home, grabbed two baseball hats and a scarf to become Sherlock Holmes. My two friends put on some camouflage face paint and we were off to beg for candy.

It wasn't long and we all had bags full of candy. We expected some of the houses to turn us away because we teenagers, but everywhere we went we were greeted with affection. I believe that most of the smaller kids went to different neighborhoods. Maybe the folks on our street were just lonely. Or maybe they knew we weren't going to be throwing toilet paper into their trees that night. That was what Halloween was about for most kids our age.

The night grew cool with a hint of rain in the air. The leaves crunched underfoot as we wandered from yard to yard hoping we could see a ghost before we went in for the night. We were sure the older guys were living it up at the grave yard. Our parents began to holler for each of us. It might not have been the most exciting Halloween in history. We were probably too old to have been going door to door begging for candy. But it felt right. It was a last sweet taste of innocence for us.

The next morning was a sunny Saturday. My cousin Freddy came to visit me. We took a walk around the neighborhood to see if anybody had rolled it anywhere. It was a pretty clean place. Most of the activity had been on the other side of town where the cemetery was located. At one house we discovered some unused rolls of toilet paper. I guess somebody had been planning to use them, but chickened out. Since the people in the house were gone, Freddy and I decided to try our hand at rolling in broad daylight.

We did a bang up job. The trees were filled when we finished. We had enough to make toilet paper bunting along their fence. The mail box got a very nice display of white bows and a couple of empty tubes in the box. It was an odd way to spend November 1st. Nobody seemed to notice us and if they did they didn't care. We'd run and hide behind the house when a car drove by. We got the exhilaration of Halloween in the bright of day. And I wouldn't trick or treat until I had kids.

CD Review: The Amino Acids - ...Destroy The Warming Sun!

The Amino Acids say they are influenced by Black Sabbath and Dick Dale. Their music has sometimes been described as surf-gore and they are part of that wacky bunch The Church Of The SubGenius. They also claim to have been sent from outer space. Hey, it worked for Sun Ra. The most likely band they will be compared to is Man Or Astroman? due to the surf/space convergence except there is less concentration on B-movie samples and more reliance on fuzztone on their album, ...Destroy The Warming Sun! out on Bowlophonic Records.

"Super Sonic 4-Dimensional Transistorized Sound" will grace your ears and be a fine source of the Slack revered by the followers of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs. Frazzed out, fuzzed out, and blown out surfer boy riffs await from the start on "Dunked In The Think Tank" and there's no let up for the next half hour as songs careen by with light speed before entering a freakout zone on the final and title track. Best title: "Return Of The Attack Of The Curse Of The Son Of The Astro Squid Part XIV Chapter Six". Favorite track: "Gas The Verig Man" which starts out sounding like it was recorded through some vegatable can telephone network put together by 5 year olds before the producer wakes up and hits the right button on the mixing board. There's also plenty of use of the theremin (the original "look ma, no hands" instrument) throughout.

This is outer space surf punk for the industrial era. It's broken down, junky, and analog like a lunar lander. Surf purists will probably hate it because it's mainly riffs without fancy arrangements. But who needs fancy arrangements when the objective is to ...Destroy The Warming Sun!. Take some Amino Acids today and soon you can be bowling in Roswell too.

The Ice Age Is Coming

Via new British sensation Arctic Monkeys.
They've dissed the Kaiser Chiefs which makes them copacetic in my book. DD Blank is swearing they're the only exciting thing he's heard this year so go and give them a listen.

Recognize The Greatness Before You

After a come on like that he says sheepishly Nashville Is Talking had a nice word for me. Coolness as Parker Lewis used to say.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll be seeing you after Halloween with more reviews, opinions, drivel, what have you. Until then why not pay a visit to Old Haunts and Goblinhaus to get you in a good Halloween mood. First one to tell what the picture is from wins a Wally mix CD.

CD Review: Miguel Mendez - My Girlfriend Is Melting

Miguel Mendez was born and raised in the LBC and attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School with Snoop Dogg. Mendez has collaborated with dudes like Farmer Dave (All Night Radio, Beachwood Sparks), Joel and Kevin Morales (Dios Malos), Tiffany Anders, and Sam Jayne (Love As Laughter). He's a guitaris, pianist, producer, and engineer. I copied all that from the CD My Girlfriend Is Melting. I guess it's all supposed to sound important and probably justify one's interest in him. It definitely sounds cool, though it's likely he will now get bombarbed with questions about Snoop when he does interviews.

Mendez is being touted as the next Beck which is sort of depressing for an old dude like me. Hell, I still remember all of those new Dylans (Forbert anyone?) and the new Springsteens. The laid back, dude lay off the 'ludes, ambience of lead off track "Drinking Beers" definitely cops an acoustic Beck vibe. It's creaky and fuzzed over with that 4 track feel. This mumbling country hippie bit gets to be damn slow by the time you get to the 5th cut "Wide Awake" which sounds like its being sung through an empty bong. Maybe the title is supposed to ironic since you'll find it difficult to stay awake through it.

It'd be a shame if you nodded out because the next song begins to show some promise in the kid. "Catchin A Wave" has some nifty piano notes and it sounds like some original neo-psychedelic threatening to take over the album. The Beck doppelganger interrupts the proceedings again on the next song, but "Number Race" which follows is some willfully weird yet beautiful music. My Girlfriend Is Melting needs more of these askew moments. "Fond Memories" slots into the stoner who dug Beck a little too much mode until somebody thinks to let some Beatles influence color the proceedings producing a much more genial hue to things.

Much of the album is slow to thhe point of catatonia and you wonder how much effort was required to make things seem so effortless. If you like sitting around the house passing stuff around while staring at black light posters of unicorns you'll probably dig this album. If you like Beck when he's not funky, then you might dig Miguel too. I'm just hoping his next release heads for strange and uncharted sounds and maybe next time his girlfriend won't be such a witch. Get it? His girlfriend is melting like a certain witch did and...ah hell forget it.

CD Review: Propaghandi - Potemkin City Limits

When most people tell you they disagree with you, but they'll defend your right to say what's on your mind you've got to figure they don't really mean it. Well I'm here to let you know that I disagree with most of the lyrical content of Propaghandi's new Fat Wreck Chords disc Potemkin City Limits, but the music rocks and if I was still doing radio I'd damn sure play it on the air. Their unholy meld of punk rock thrash melodics with prog rock is an energetic and inviting assault to the senses whether you agree with the politically charged polemics or not.

Before we go over Propaghandi's politics how about an explanation of the album title. The term "Potemkin village" comes from an apocryphal story about this Russian dude Potemkin who made up a bunch of fake village facades to impress Catherine The Great as she went by once. Since then the term has come to mean any false construct, especially in a political context, meant to hide something bad. Sounds like normal politics to me.

Politics to Propaghandi are to the left. The Ward Churchill quotes inside are a dead giveaway. There are little quotes scattered throughout the lyrics booklet with the best being the famous lines of Ralph from Friday The XIII "You're All Doomed" which was included on the same page with the words from "Superbowl Patriot XXXVI" which manages to take a potshot at that beloved knight Sir Paul McCartney. His performance did leave something to be desired didn't it?

The album begins with "A Speculative Fiction" which posits a scenario where Canadians (Propaghandi are from Winnipeg) kick America's ass. Note to Propaghandi: it would never work. A few bombs during hockey season would do you guys in. Joking aside, they can stay pissed at the United States forever as long as they keep rocking this hard. Lyrics like "We both profess noble intent as we civilize human impediments" from "Fixed Frequencies" or "Really, it's not so much the incessant ruse of assigning profound meaning to the meaningless curios" from "Fedellah's Hearse" may read clunkily on the page, but the band comes off like a thrash Manic Street Preachers once the music is cued up. There's also a weird echo of Anthrax contained in the din. I'll admit to being ignorant to who Fedellah was, but the song kicks ass.

"Bringer Of Greater Things" seems to be about some issue with the Saskatoon Police. "America's Army (Die Jugend Marschiert)" is about how the government owns everyone's children. The lyric booklet has a reference to Ender's Game at the top. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it. America as big bully seems to pop up often like on "Name And Address Withheld". The funniest line on the album comes from "Rock For Sustainable Capitalism"; in reference to the WARP Tour's bands - "Hope they ship all those shitty bands overseas like they did the factories". I find their railing about music being bought and sold amusing as hell. I hope you do to when the cashier is giving you your change after after purchased Potemkin City Limits.

CD Review: Echo And The Bunnymen - Siberia

The front cover of the latest Echo And The Bunnymen album, Siberia, is a non-descript photo of pincipals Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant peering from what appears to be an abandoned building. The inside cover shows the word "verboten" written in red paint on the structure which left me wondering what the connection between a German word and Siberia would be. Trying to match an album cover up with the music inside may seem a bit much to some, but Echo is a band that always seemed to me to be wrapped up in symbols and mythology. They were more than a rock band during their halcyon days when they wore military anoraks to the stage and the promise of youth seemed eternal.

An album like Porcupine lived up to its cover with music suggestively prickly and cold. Ocean Rain looked to be wondrous and enchanting and it was. Siberia's cover is prosaic with the only promise perhaps one of haunting echoes. The appearance of Hugh Jones as producer is notable. He co-produced Heaven Up Here. Another echo from the past. Which could be a very good thing. Since Ian and Will have revived the Bunnymen name each succeeding release has been a pale imitation of past greatness heavy on ballads and rockers that sound more of mid 90's Britrock than classic Bunnymen. Those albums were all of decent quality, but they all seemed to miss the mark. Where was the serpentine shards of guitar and the propulsive bass? The dynamic pauses had all been shunted aside for some seamless weld that held no spark.

Siberia makes attempts at reconciling the old with the new making it the best release since Will and Ian decided to take Peaches and Herb's advice. McCulloch's vocals have long since transcended the days when they regarded as aping Jim Morrison. They possess a burnished sublime beauty all his own well showcased on "All Because Of You Days"; a slow burner of sentimentality given a real ache by Ian. "Parthenon Drive" is being touted as the song most like the past and it does have the muted slippy drive of old giving it a recoil and snap I wish they would embrace more often. Hints of the old dynamic tension surface fleetingly on "In The Margins"; a good example that it's the notes you don't play that sometimes makes a song.

McCulloch also has a way with those "in between" songs; those tunes that are neither ballad nor rocker. "Of A Life" is the best of this sort. A mild Madchester bass lopes under the title track reminding me that Echo never got the proper credit they deserved for helping to inspire the "baggy" scene. Some hard rock flourishes show up in "Sideways Eight" and get full blown on "Scissors In The Sand" which manages to meld The Who, Joy Division, and Echo And The Bunnymen into one monolithic screamer. The album tumbles back down to a fitting soul searching end for "What If We Are?" where even the sappiest of questions deserves an answer.

Siberia is less I'll meet you halfway there as it is taking a few steps back before going forward. We'll just have to accept that they sound more like "Bring On The Dancing Horses" than "The Cutter". The promise of youth may not be eternal, but McCulloch and Sergeant are aging gracefully without tarnishing their past. I bet they would still look cool in military garb though. Echo And The Bunnymen will begin a North American Tour in November.

College Football Predictions - Week 9

GEORGIA TECH by 3 over Clemson
winner Georgia Tech
spread Georgia Tech

Oklahma by 1 over NEBRASKA
winner Nebraska
spread Nebraska

BYU by 6 over Air Force
winner BYU
spread BYU

Ohio State by 3 over MINNESOTA
winner Minnesota
spread Minnesota

FLORIDA by 5 1/2 over Georgia
winner Florida
spread Florida

usc by 31 over WASHINGTON STATE
winner USC
spread Washington State

Texas by 36 1/2 over OKLAHOMA STATE
winner Texas
spread Texas

ucla by 7 over STANFORD
winner UCLA
spread Stanford

Michigan by 4 over NORTHWESTERN
winner Northwestern
spread Northwestern

TENNESSEE by 14 1/2 over South Carolina
winner South Carolina
spread South Carolina

Current record: picking winners 48-32
picking spread 32-48

Looks like if I was a gambler I'd be coming out even at the moment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Euroweenies Say No Halloweenie

A small group of Euroweenies have it in for Halloween. Maybe we should make the largest piece of flaming poo in history and leave it on their doorsteps. Or perhaps we should send some kids to do some rolling over there. I can see it now - the customs official inquires, "What are you doing with all of that toilet paper, sir?"

The kid replies, "I've got a problem with some leakage, you know, down there, and the European toilet paper makes me break out in a rash."

Anti * Society Issue 1959

I've wrote about my old fanzine numerous times. I've included some pages from time to time and finally decided to post all of the issues over the next year. I posted the first issue some months ago. If you want to read it, just check the archives. Today it's issue #2, the one which garnered rave reviews from Flipside magazine (they said it was "punk as hell") and the Beastie Boys mag Grand Royal. It holds up pretty well considering the thing dates from around 1994. There's even a mention of Rosa Parks in one column that touched a nerve with me in light of her recent death. Just click on the pictures and you should hopefully be able to read the material.

Say It Ain't So

Yahoo is reporting that Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo is heading back to Harvard. They also quoted him on meditation and celibacy:

"I decided to try celibacy because I heard it would help the meditation, and I tried meditation because I heard it would help with the music," he said. "So, it all really comes back to the music.

"Listen to 'Make Believe' and compare it to the previous album, 'Maladroit,"' he continued. "I know I can hear a difference in my singing. My voice just sounds much more sensitive and dynamic now. I also notice a difference in the lyrics. I'm much more open and communicative about my emotions now."

And here I thought his vocals sounded better thanks to Pro Tool technology. I would slam on Cuomo for such a pompous interview, but the dude did record the Pinkerton album which gives him an almost endless supply of slack cutting.


I don't know what I hate more: the religion of peace or the jerks that capitulate to them. Besides, I don't see pigs going around strapping explosives to themselves in order to kill innocent people. I'm eating some delicious bacon right now.

Monday, October 24, 2005


During the recent powerball frenzy I was asked what I would do if I won millions of dollars. I'd build a bigger house on the same street. I'd buy some oceanfront property in North or South Carolina. But most of all I would open up some sort of store (maybe books, maybe records or CD's, DVD's, or toys) built in the Googie architectural style. So if there are any wealthy benefactors out there who want to donate to that cause, please get in touch.

To All The Blog Spammers

To all of the blog spammers who have been hitting my site with their stupid comment posts like "I love your blog. Visit here for premium dog food" etc... I hope you realize you are wasting your time since my blog is worth nothing. Nada, zero, zilch. Which is true because I don't have blogads here and I have don't have that many links from Technorati registered blogs. I'm all about keeping it free, folks. I'm going to institute some things to keep the blog spammers out.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I am a father. That trumps anything else in my life, period. This means putting my kids first and I gladly do so. It also means worrying about them growing up in a world with people in it willing to exploit and harm children. It would be nice if the world we lived in didn't need an organization like PROTECT - The National Association To Protect Children, but it does. Here is their mission statement: PROTECT is a national pro-child, anti-crime membership association. We are founded on the belief that our first and most sacred obligation as parents, citizens, and members of the human species is the protection of children from harm. We are committed to building a powerful, nonpartisan force for the protection of children from abuse, exploitation and neglect. We believe that this must be done through a determined single-issue focus, a meaningful mainstream agenda and the use of proven modern political strategies. What does this have to do with music?

Punk rock label Fat Wreck Chords is a corporate sponsor of PROTECT and they have just issued a compilation album whose proceeds will go to benefit the organization. There are 26 artists included with 15 songs never previously released. As with any compilation album there's some stuff I really love and some that has me leaping to hit the skip button before 5 seconds have elapsed and this will apply to most consumers. If you say you like everything on here I'd be tempted to call you a liar, but whatever. Here are my favorite goodies from this disc: MxPx's "Broken Heart's Disease" is primo pop punk, NOFX's "Red State" stoops to stereotyping, but damn if the song doesn't rock with the sort of abandon I cherish, a never before released live Jawbreaker cut, "Want", shows why the emo kids hold them in such reverence, Hot Cross brings some Iron Maiden guitar along with them on "Tacoma", and Western Addiction keeps the old school hardcore punk rock torch blazing fiercely with "When Friends Attack" and this is just a tiny bit of what I appreciated.

Punk rockers and parents unite! Go and buy this album today. It's for a worthy cause and the music is good. Your kids might just thank you someday.

What's Happening

I know what I'll be doing the first weekend of November. I will be watching a massive amount of the TV Land 48 hour What's Happening marathon. I will then subject my friends to multiple "hey, hey, hey's." Great to see this fun show make it back onto the national airwaves.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

College Football Predictions - Week 8

Last week was a very good week for picking winners. I went 8-2 in what I dubbed the week of the favorites. I hedged my bets on the spread and got killed going 3-7. My grand total for the season is 41-29 picking winners, and 28-42 picking against the spread. Here are this week's very unsure things:

IOWA by 2 1/2 over Michigan
winner Iowa
spread Iowa

SOUTH CAROLINA by 8 over Vanderbilt
winner South Carolina
spread South Carolina

MISSISSIPPI STATE by 1 1/2 over Houston
winner Mississippi State
spread Mississippi State

NOTRE DAME by 18 1/2 over b.y.u.
winner Notre Dame
spread B.Y.U,

ALABAMA by 3 1/2 over Tennessee
winner Alabama
spread Alabama

Texas A&M by 4 1/2 over KANSAS STATE
winner Kansas State
spread Kansas State

U.C.L.A. by 9 over Oregon State
winner U.C.L.A.
spread U.C.L.A.

TEXAS by 15 1/2 over Texas Tech
winner Texas
spread Texas

L.S.U. by 6 over Auburn
winner L.S.U.
spread Auburn

u.s.c. by 30 over WASHINGTON
winner U.S.C.
spread Washington