Archive for the ‘Newsweek’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BLACK FLAG: The Process of Weeding Out (1985).

Fans of Black Flag were (justifiably) freaked out by this EP.  It’s a four songs that clock in at almost 30 minutes (from the band who gave us the one-minute long hit “Wasted”).

This album is all instrumental and it provided Greg Ginn yet another outlet for his experimental guitar workouts (see also: Gone, October Faction, Saccharine Trust, Tom Troccoli’s Dog etc.)

So what you get is Kira’s fantastic and unusual bass riffs (she did amazing work with Black Flag), Bill Stevenson’s intense (and cymbal fueled) drums and Greg Ginn’s what the hell? guitars.  I’ve always found Ginn’s guitar work to be somewhat off.  It always struck me that maybe he didn’t exactly know how to play the guitar.  And yet he was always right on with his riffs and chords, it’s just that his solos never conformed to any standard version of guitar solo I’d ever heard.

So this EP comes across more as fee jazz than punk.  “Your Last Affront” is 9 minutes of chaos all under-girded by an interesting if unconventional riff.  It’s followed by the two-minute “Screw the Law” a much faster song, with an intense riff repeated for much of it.  The last 30 seconds or so has some screaming solos from Ginn, but of all the tracks, this is probably the most user-friendly.

The second side has the title track starts with a lengthy solo from Ginn.  A few minutes in, Stevenson’s drums come clacking around the place and Kira is somewhat relegated to the back as her bass is steady but not that exciting.  Until about 3 and a half minutes in, when the band takes over and Kira plays a super cool riff and when Ginn joins in, the song is really solid.  “Southern Rise” ends the disc with 5 minutes of relative quiet.  Although the main instrument appears to be the drums.

The whole things sounds like they were jamming in Greg’s garage.  And I’ll bet lots of fun was had in that garage.

[READ: March 15, 2011] three items about what didn’t make it into Infinite Jest

In honor of The Pale King’s release this week, I’m doing this post on Infinite Jest-related stuff.  This is all of the stuff that we lay people have access to without going to the Wallace archives to find all of the cool DFW stuff.

After finishing IJ this summer, I found out that it was initially much much longer (I think around 300 pages longer).  I grew mildly obsessed with wondering what had gotten cut.  And I had to wonder, if you have an 1100 page book, what difference would an extra 500 pages make, really?  Initially, I thought that the things that were cut were just minor changes, but then I heard about fairly large things that were removed.  And I dreamed of a “director’s cut” of the book.  That will never happen, and that’s fine (I’m less obsessed now).  But these little glimpses into scenes that didn’t make the book are fascinating.

And all told, they confirm that most of the cuts were minor, although there were some large scenes that were left on the cutting room floor. (more…)

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back coverSOUNDTRACK: HÜSKER DÜ-Metal Circus EP (1983).

HuskerDuMetalCircusAfter the insane hardcore mess of Land Speed Record, this EP is a bit of a change.  It’s still pretty hardcore, but now you can tell that the noisiness of the guitar is deliberate.  Bob Mould is playing around with multiple layers of feedback and distortion to create a wall of noise that sometimes hides, sometime accentuates the overall sound.

What strikes me as odd in retrospect is that I think of Bob Mould as one of alternative rock’s poppier songwriters.  And yet when you listen to this disc the two poppiest (which is a relative term to be sure) tracks are by Grant Hart.

The first two tracks are fast and furious.  But what separates them from 4 x 4 hardcore is, mostly Greg Norton’s bass.  He’s all over the place.  There’s also some diversity within the songs themselves (a little guitar squeal in “Deadly Skies”).

“It’s Not Funny Anymore” (Hart’s song) is surprisingly upbeat (with guitar harmonics) and is not quite as noisy (although it’s still pretty noisy, and is not going on the radio anytime soon).

The next two track are more of Mould’s screamy hardcore.

The longest song (4 and a half minutes) is also by Hart. “Diane” is a creepy song about abduction and murder (yet with something of a  singalong chorus).  I actually know the Therapy? version better because I had listened to that disc a lot when it came out.  But the Hüsker’s version is even creepier.  Wikipedia says it is about a real incident (which makes it less creepy than if Hart has made it up, I suppose).

It ends with Mould’s least hardcore song, although the guitar solo is pretty insane.

And then it’s over.  7 songs in twenty minutes.  That’s nearly half as many as on Land Speed Record.  You can see the songs changing already.  Just wait till the next disc!

[READ: June 29, 2009] McSweeney’s #5

McSweeney’s #5 plays with cover ideas again.  On this one, frontthe cover idea is actual different covers and slipcovers.  The book is hardcover, with three different cover designs.  It also has 4 different slipcover designs. The colophon explains that if one wanted one could have requested for free) each of the cover designs because they did not intend to make people buy multiple issues.  Click on the covers to see them enlarged on flickr (all images are copyright McSweeney’s).

This is the Koppel front cover.

I will quote from the McSweeney’s site their description of the covers:

As many of you know, the new issue of our print version is out, and by now is in most stores. This issue is a hardcover book, and features four different dust jackets. One dust jacket has on it a man who seems to be suffering from terrible skin lesions. The second cover looks very much like the cover of Issue No. 1, with the addition of a medical drawing of a severed arm. The third cover is blank, with all of its images hiding on the back. Hiding from the bad people. The last cover is just red. Or, if you will, simply red.

In addition, under each dust jacket is a different cover. One features pictures of Ted Koppel. One features new work by Susan Minot. And a third features a variation on the second cover, described above, though this version is legible only with aid of mirror. This inner cover also is featured under the red dust jacket.

I was quite surprised when I took the slipcover off mine, (more…)

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