Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante (1995)

Apparently I've ingested a tincture of Lethe because I swear I've already reviewed this, even though I am certain I haven't, which is to say I may have, but probably shan't, and you should just keep drinking your tea, because I've got no more sugar. Regardless, for those in the know, rewind for me please back to 1995, when augurs lacked erotic taint -- at least publicly -- and Kyuss, bless them lads, were still playing. Enter Mike Patton and Co. and their deranged musical madness straight from the toilets of the Archdiocese of Montevideo. Nothing short of what I affectionately would call "organized chaos," Disco Volante is not for the easily amused, nor for those looking for anything pleasantly auricular. Like a Protean shape-shifter thrashing in unexpected bondage, Bungle alternates between jazz, techno, funk, death metal -- to name just a few -- seamlessly in a matter of seconds, multiple times within songs and continuously for the course of the album, all the while with Patton at the wheel mangling his vocals through his effects boxes. It is simply nothing like you've ever heard before or since.

I mean, come on, what would you pay to see your highly diseased host of this aborted musical intestine flailing around his living room in clownish fashion to the strains of "Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz?" I have made several performances throughout the years and -- unlike Metallica -- I've still got some oomph in these legs. Favorite tracks: the aforementioned "Skwoz," the Scooby snacks of "Carry Stress In The Jaw," the delicious "Desert Search For Techno Allah" and my favorite lyric of the album, from "Merry Go Bye Bye"-- "The deaths were faked, the laughs were cries / But resurrections are doing fine / You got me walking into suicide / And I'll be there right by your side / In reproduction at your merry go bye bye."

So have at it, bring a clean pair of underwear and remember, it's not how you shave the bunny, but how much gel you use. A-

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Verve - Forth (2008)

I have my reservations about anyone, musician or not, who takes a long extended absence from anything, especially at a relative zenith in their craft, returns and immediately resumes chugging like nothing had ever happened. Ever shoot a firearm accurately? Learn a foreign language proficiently? Finally get sweep picking down? Now stop for about a decade and then resume where you left off for the fuck of it. This is more or less what the Verve did, except they really didn't quit music -- just each other. When I did this with guitar, I was duly impressed at how righteously horrible I was. The reason I say this is because hopefully you are following my thought process -- which is to say, if you've been reading in-between the lines, that I'm unconsciously hyping this album up for myself. Shall I be disappointed? Yes and no.

Yes, because a part of me wanted this album to be better than Urban Hymns. Every album they made got successively better -- why should this be an exception? No, because this is still a pretty good album, for a variety of reasons, none of them being mind-blowing, but still reasons nonetheless; and besides, these fellows sure seem damn happy doing it. The shortest song, an anthemic ballad called "Valium Skies," is 4:34; everything else clocks in well above five, six, seven and even eight minutes. Why, that is such horrid poo-poo nonsense! Who do they think they are making me listen for that long? Because the Verve have always been best when allowed to stretch; and within these songs, they do just that, peeling away an amalgam of sound layers in a loose, semi-jam fashion very akin to a live setting. I always felt like the Verve were the visual equivalent of playing with crayons: ignoring lines, scribbling oodles of non-linear color whilst hand-smearing their creations with cookie crumbs and without a care in the world.

Just a few quick remarks: "Sit And Wonder" is the opener and a better song couldn't have been picked to start the album. I think it's highly reminiscent of Northern Soul material, but still very good. "Love Is Noise" is an iffy track, partially because this is quite frankly a Richard Ashcroft solo album leftover; that synth is kind of aggravating and it feels like -- Chris Martin. Nuff said, for those who know me. "Noise Epic" has such a furiously good ending. "Rather Be" is neurotically addictive, and "Judas" is a damn beautiful song. All in all, a pretty good return to the music scene with a disc closer to Storm In Heaven than Urban Hymns, but regardless, welcome back boyos. B-

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Radiohead - All Points West Music Festival, Liberty State Park - August 8, 2008

After watching the end of Michael Franti & Spearhead, wracking my brain for solace from New Pornographers (and the brief rain), experiencing a mixed sort of repetitive soullessness from Underworld (which was good and bad), and hearing some Columbia U professor ramble on about how I should save Tibet for twenty minutes (which is not the venue for such a thing, in my humblest of humbles), the Only Band That Matters finally came on. Bogsmack and biffle to ye who would dispute otherwise.

The sound was absolutely flawless -- which is to say, no need for earplugs. I generally wear them to protect my ears, but I am also inherently opposed to them because they muffle the finer points of some music. Thank you, Radiohead, for taking care of that for me. Clear sky. Perfect weather. Glorious, pristine fucking sound. Statue of Liberty to the east. Manhattan to the north. And 25 songs! I feel selfish for still wanting more afterwards, but what would you do, Mssr. Montserrat?

I'm not going to labor through the playlist and insult your reading abilities, but I will say a few things. The completely electric version of "Jigsaw" was ridiculous; "Reckoner" sounds immensely better live than the studio version (which is nothing short of amazing, for those in the know); hearing "The Gloaming" live is pure fucking bonkers and sent tingling little impeticles straight through my fortified wazzle; "Paranoid Android" still resonates incredibly well, even after a decade of wear and tear; "You And Whose Army?" was poignant, painful and inspiring all at the same time. Thom's voice was simply tip-top; Jonny was an animal (especially on "Just") and it was great to finally see just how Phil plays that irregularly unsettling beat on "Videotape." And even know I know it's not, sometimes, even for a night, everything was in its right place. A+

And by the gods if I can go again tonight I will I will I will.


15 Step
There There
Morning Bell (Kid A version)
All I Need
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
The Gloaming
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
You And Whose Army
Climbing Up The Walls
How To Disappear Completely

Encore I:
House Of Cards
Pyramid Song
Paranoid Android
Dollars & Cents
Street Spirit

Encore II:
Cymbal Rush (from Eraser)
Everything In Its Right Place