For the second time in my life, I have attended a GWAR show. This most recent time was also @ the Catalyst and on the eve of the election. Naturally, both candidates for president appeared as puppets in the show and both were promptly decapitated, whereupon their neck holes sprayed fake blood into the audience while the band played a savage tune. My favorite was the 13 ft. high “cyber Jesus” puppet. Awesome! Yes, this stuff is not Shakespeare, but it most certainly is theatre. True, you are not required to get covered in fake blood, but you must be there in person. You cannot tweet GWAR, you slave!
Possessed by Paul James is the project of 36-year-old musician Konrad Wert, banjoist/guitarist/fiddlist whose music blends the down-home lyin’-in-the-grass-while-the-summer-heat-buzzes-around-you-and-you-realize-just-how-big-the-world-is-so-you-decide-it’s-time-to-go-explore-it feel of folk and bluegrass with the fiery passion of punk and blues to make a stunning set of songs collected on 2010’s Feed the Family. Raised in a small Mennonite community of pacifists, Vietnam vets, and various hangers-on, this son-of-a-preacher moves from the powerful bombast of banjos and bellows into mellow tunes straight from an old rocking chair. What doesn’t change is the passion with which he plays. No matter if it’s the profane condemnations of “Color of My Bloody Nose” or the guilty lamentations of “Take Off Your Mask” (which you can hear below), his voice powerfully carries each note into cozy bliss (please ignore the fact that “cozy bliss” sounds like a description for some kind of body butter or something, maybe a snuggie). Below are a couple videos to give you a sense of both sides of his musical personality. Take a listen and see for yourself:
Also I’m just gonna put this here, because it’s rad:
When my friend first introduced me to Death Grips’ Ex-Military it was rough going. I never really took a liking to them. Recently, Death grips released No Love Deep Web. After spending a month with it, the album has begun to grow on me. At first I didn’t like feeling like I was being yelled at by an angry homeless man, but now I find it entertaining. The production on the tracks used to be too noisy for me as well but that soon changed when the 808’s took hold of me. The songs on this album arent as poppy and catch as those on The Money Store but there are still a few gems such as Come up and get me, Lil Boy and Stockton. The rest of the songs are entertaining and there isn’t really a track that i cannot stand.
What could be better than being surrounded by music and the passionate fanatics drawn to it? Other than winning the Lottery, not much. If you’re a record collector or just like people watching, the annual KZSC Ultimate Music Sale should be your destination Saturday November 17th. Dozens of music vendors will be selling everything from rare collectibles to bargain-priced vinyl and CDs. And yes, back by popular demand, The Great 88 will have a separate titanic table with no item over 25 cents. Fun for the whole family and a Santa Cruz tradition in November, the Ultimate Music Sale is…well, the ultimate. FREE admission; FREE parking. Get there early for best selection. The double doors open at 10 AM Saturday, November 17th. Follow the signs and balloons to the Crown/Merrill Cultural Center on the UCSC campus. More info and pictures on our Facebook Page.
Music is the cultural bundle package. It defined the identity of post-war social movements and their countercultures; it also acts as a commodity consciously bought, sold, and made marketable to prospective general audiences in the form of fads or trends. Why do certain elements of pop music persist in their popularity? Why do others become dated and kitsch? What is retro? What is vintage? Why do we like them? Why do the Beatles still sell records to 15-year olds? Why do 15-year olds still buy records? Isn’t this the Digital Age? Why does Maroon 5 write songs about Mick Jagger? What about Nick Waterhouse, whose contemporary albums made in contemporary studios are meant to sound as ‘sixties’ as possible? What about cover songs? What about cover albums? What about box sets? Why do people buy them? They’re expensive. Do people ever listen to them?
All 500 bootleg uncut versions of Queen Jane Approximately?
What about reunion tours? Who goes to see Pat Benatar at a casino for 9$? I did. I wasn’t even alive when she was at her most popular, but I went anyway. What about that Grateful Dead Archive? Can you really archive a musical event? Is that still relevant? Going to an archive is nothing like seeing a concert in person. Can you put punk rock in an archive? That’s not very punk rock. What about post-punk? New wave? No Wave? Why do people pay $15.00 for a mediocre hamburger at the Hardrock-Café-Wherever to gawk at Eric Clampton’s old unsigned red Fender behind bullet-proof glass? The guitar is not Eric Clampton. Right? Or Elvis. Or The Beatles.
If nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, what exactly do these trends say? If a generation begins longing for a past it never participated in, does that imply some sort of current cultural dissatisfaction? How can you feel homesick for a house you never lived in? Have visions of the future in the chaos of the postmodern world been recapitulated backwards?
Maybe the answer lies in understanding the nature of post-war consumerism and the advent of leisure time. People now had time to be nostalgic and culturally disaffected. People suddenly had the money, and the education, and the time to spend collecting tokens of the past, and constructing their identities around them. You could live in the 60’s and dress like you were from the 30’s, or from England, or from India, or from Bohemia. The rise of the service economy and upward swell of per capita income freed white America to be unsatisfied.
But! In the grander scope of larger more historic epochs, haven’t humans always been unsatisfied? Isn’t that what drives the need for progress? Even if we’re well fed, housed and exist outside the immediate threat of arbitrary violence, humans will find something to be discontented over. Maybe we’re not really post-anything. The music industry is a case study.
In this week’s edition of new metally things that you should care about, we have a group of bands that aren’t quite as well known as the past few weeks’ additions, but they’re still just as awesome. Something noteworthy about this week’s adds: The Sacred People marks Tiamat’s 10th record. No matter what band you are, ten full lengths is an impressive feat in its own regard. Also, is it just me or is this the millionth reissue of a Megadeth album? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it’s just remarkable that after over 20 years Megadeth is still making waves in the loud rock genre.
1 GRAVEYARD Lights Out Nuclear Blast
2 HEARTIST Nothing You Didn’t Deserve [EP] Roadrunner
3 TIAMAT The Sacred People Napalm
4 MEGADETH Countdown To Extinction 20th Anniversary Edition EMI
5 DORO Raise Your Fist Nuclear Blast
1 NEUROSIS Honor Found In Decay Neurot
2 NO BRAGGING RIGHTS Cycles eOne
3 THE SWORD Apocryphon Razor And Tie
4 MOTORHEAD The World Is Ours, Vol. 2: Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else UDR
5 CONVERGE All We Love We Leave Behind Epitaph
6 BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME The Parallax II: Future Sequence Metal Blade
7 METALOCALYPSE: DETHKLOK Dethalbum III Cartoon Network
8 TEXAS IN JULY Texas In July Equal Vision
9 ALL DINOSAURS Rules Of Civility And Decent Behavior Self-Released
10 ABIOTIC Symbiosis Metal Blade