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Archive for the ‘Big Black’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SELFISH CUNT-“Britain Is Shit” / “Fuck the Poor” (2003).

I had not heard of this band until reading about them in yesterday’s Nick Hornby essay.  He didn’t name them, but he mentioned a review in which the band were described as combining ‘the hammering drum machine and guitar of controversial 80’s trio Big Black and the murky noise of early Throbbing Gristle.”

The band was formed in early 2003 by Martin Tomlinson and Patrick Constable, and was noted for provocative lyrics, aggressive stage shows, and electronic-influenced rock.  In 2004, The Guardian placed Selfish Cunt at #40 on its list of “top 40 bands in Britain today.”  They broke up in 2008.

This was their first single.  It surprises me that both of these songs are over three minutes long as they seems like they would be about 45 seconds.

“Britain is Shit” opens with a fast electronic drum beat with jagged guitar stabs and shouted vocals.  Big Black is an excellent touchstone.  After a few verses, all the music drops out except for the drum machine–it’s quite a bold musical statement (not to mention the lyrics).  A ringing guitar chord keeps the semblance of melody going.  The lyrics resume:

Are you having fun / when war is on
put your kettle on / cause the war is on.
Britain is shit / it’s full of lies
white men start their shit / in their shirts and ties.

“Fuck the Poor” is quite similar.  A simple drum machine beat with loud distorted guitars as the only musical element.  The lryics:

Fuck the poor / make war

sung in a heavy British accent,  After the first verse a second guitar chimes in with a guitar riff on top. and more distorted guitar.  The melody doesn’t change.  The song ends in a cacophony of noise.

These songs aren’t original (although combining the sharp electric drum with punk guitars is pretty novel) but they are provocative.  Evidently their live show was quite something.

A 2004 thread on Drowned in Sound describes the live show

I saw them last night, not sure if they could live up to the hype. I went with an open mind but thinking they might not pull it off.

But fuck me. They pulled it off. They fucking rocked. The singer was incredible, hypnotic, acrobatic, snarling, wearing a ripped up catsuit and eye makeup, prowling round the crowd and singing in people’s faces, coming on to all the straight boys, singing in the girls’ ears… like some kind of crossover between iggy, rotten and … grace jones or something. he threw himself around, doing these balletic poses, completely confident and… fucking ace.

Songs? yeah, there were some, they were loud and good. Britain Is Shit is the best anti war song I’ve heard. Fuck The Poor is an anthem. And, one more time, for the record, when he says those vile things like “bang bang another nigger dead” it’s not his own opinion, it’s the voice of someone else – soldier, politician, whoever. It’s a PROTEST not an advocation. come on, haters, get with the fuckin programme.

I think racist types are not really going to latch onto Selfish Cunt because Tompkinson is one of the most obviously gay frontmen i’ve ever seen, and i doubt many racist bigots are particularly accepting of gay people… and i honestly think that the disdain with which he spits out the lyrics make it pretty obvious that there’s something more going on than just the straight lyric.

Of course, you’ll never get a song on the radio with a name like that.

[READ: June 3, 2019] “The Male Gaze”

I enjoyed the tone of this story although the main character was a bit of a puzzle.  She is sophisticated and aware of the male gaze, but seems willing to succumb to it anyway.

Phoebe is a young, sexually active New Yorker: “sometimes she felt like hot shit, sometimes just like shit.”

The first section of the story is called The Most Important Artist of the Post-Second World War Period.

At a party, Phoebe meets Pablo Miles who approached her and says “you’re very fuckable.”

Of all the affronts!  But Phoebe knew the game and made big eyes at him and said “Do you really mean it?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RAPEMAN-“Steak and Black Onions” (1988).

Rapeman was a project by Steve Albini named after a Japanese graphic novel character.  They put out one LP and one EP and were protested everywhere they went.

I wasn’t intending to use this song for this story.  As I was finishing this post I read that Carlson was accused of the sexual assault of a minor.  I didn’t want to associate the musician I initially had on this post (who I loved) with this asshat.

So, I am tying him to Rapeman.

Whether the band name is inherently good or bad is not the point.  I wanted something appropriate for the author.  If only the song had been called “T-Bone Steak and Potatoes.”

But then there’s the music, which is really good.  This song, as with most things Albini plays on, is full of sharp, piercing guitar stabs and ricocheting feedback.

The lyrics are pure meat-eating aggro:

Why don’t you snuff it, then?
You plant-eating pussy

Well I know that you wanna tell me what I’m…
What I’m eating, ah yeah
Shut your mouth, shut your mouth
Shut your mouth
I know what I want and I don’t like onions

And yet it’s surprisingly catchy–catchier than his work with say Big Black, anyway.

It is hard to listen to a band called Rapeman, which is a shame since the sounds that Albini generates are so extraordinary.

[READ: April 16, 2019] “At the Jim Bridger” 

I was reluctant to read this story because the title is so puzzling.  And then, as I read it, I was reluctant to finish it because I assumed i knew where it was going and didn’t want to read a story about homophobia.  But I read it all and it surprised me.

The man is named Donner (which seems too easy) he and a woman (not his wife, as the story keeps pointing out) have just pulled into the parking lot of the Jim Bridger Lodge.  He’d been talking about a steak and a cocktail at the Jim Bridger for days.  He talked a lot–more than anyone she’d ever met.  And his stories seemed so poetic.

He had taken the woman on his annual week long hike in the woods.  There was much talk and much sex and he had left beers in the river for when they returned and they were the best she’d ever had. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2015] The Organist

organistFor the second season of The Organist, they switched formats from the once a month 45-55 minute long amalgam of stories of last year to a one story an episode, once a week format.  The length hovers around 20 minutes now with some shows being much longer and others being much shorter.  It doesn’t make too much of a difference if you listen all at once as I did, but I can see that if you’re listening when they come out that a weekly podcast would be more satisfying.

However, they have also opted to have an “encore” episode every fourth episode in which they take one of the segments from an earlier episode and play it on its own.  How disappointing would it be to tune in and get a repeat?  And why on earth would they repeat things if all of the previous episodes are available online?  It’s very strange and frankly rather disappointing.  I mean, sure, it’s nice to have the new introductions, but it’s not like you’re getting some kind of special version when they repeat it.  It’s exactly the same.  And, boy, they tend to repeat some of my least favorite pieces.

Also the website now gives a pretty detailed summary of the contents of each episode, so you get a good sense of what’s going to happen. (more…)

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locke6 SOUNDTRACK: HAPPY FLOWERS-“All I Got Were Clothes Christmas” (1986).

godsAfter all of this mostly respectful Christmas music, I had to throw in one crazy stupid ugly horribly song.  But that’s mostly because I forgot it existed until I stumbled on it the other day.  The Happy Flowers were a terrible band (seriously).  They were the kind of band that seemed to blossom in the late 1980s which don’t seem to exist anymore (for better or worse).  They were beyond noise, this was just a crazy noisy pile of sound with screamed lyrics that have nothing to do with the music.

I loved them.  But not really, because they were terrible.  But it was fun to know that people not only made music like this but that it could find a record label (and presumably an audience).  I used to enjoy playing their songs on my radio show.

The Happy Flowers were two guys from Charlottesville, VA.  They were in another band (the Landlords) so presumably they could play their instruments, although I don’t know that band at all.  Their stage names were Mr. Horribly Charred Infant, (drums, vocals) and Mr. Anus, (guitar, vocals), so you have a sense of what we’re dealing with here.  And yet you really can’t be prepared for it.

This song is basically just feedback and two adult men screaming about how they wanted to get toys for Christmas but all they got was clothes.  For four minutes.  And it made it onto the above compilation, God’s Favorite Dog, with Big Black and the Butthole Surfers.

If your Christmas didn’t live up to your expectations, perhaps you need to hear this.  Or perhaps not.

[READ: December 29, 2014] Locke & Key 6

I knew I couldn’t hold out until the new year to finish this series.  I was compelled to keep going.  There was nothing I could do to hold back, as if some kind of spirit kept pulling me towards the books.

And the ending did not disappoint.  Well, it did disappoint a little in that so many people ended up dead.  I couldn’t believe how many people who I grew to care about were killed in various ways.

There’s really no time for flashbacks in this book, although we do get occasional look-backs.  We see the Locke kids make up with the friends that they have alienated. We also see that the kids’ mom has been sober for 30 days (this whole series takes place over a much longer time than it seems).

We also see Rufus come to say goodbye to the Locke family. While he is waiting for Bode to come up from the water, Rufus sees Bode’s ghost who tells him that the person in Bode’s body is not him but is actually Scout.  Rufus immediately attacks Bode when he arrives.  This send Rufus to the same institution that Erin Voss is in.  While he’s in there we see him already making plans to escape.  And it turns out that Erin Voss is able to communicate with him (sort of) and she is able to help in her own way. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAPANDROIDS-Live on KEXP, June 16, 2009 (2009).

Back in 2009,  one of the guys from Japandroids had surgery and they had to cancel some dates.  That’s only relevant to this because when this set is over, the guitarist is bleeding from his scar.

Japandroids are two guys and they make a lot of noise.  I can recall jamming on guitar with my friend on drums and even when we were totally in synch, we never sounded this good.  It really sounds like there are four or five people playing.  This set has three songs from their debut album and an amazing cover of Big Black’s “Racer X.”

The three  songs are very good and the guys pay hard and fast and, as I said, they sound amazing.  It’s a great set.  You can hear the whole thing here.  There’s also video of the performance.  It’s broken  into two parts.  This is part two, with the blistering cover of “Racer X.”

[READ: September 17, 2012] Bluebeard

I’ve mentioned this book a few times in the last couple of days as something that I’d been struggling with.  And, indeed, I found it to be a little slow going.  I was excited to start reading it because, as the subtitle says, this is an autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, an artist who appeared in Breakfast of Champions–I love that Vonnegut keeps working within his own universe.  But there was something about the early pages of the story that were just not that compelling.

Rabo is having a hard time getting his book going, and while that is a dramatic effect, I had a hard time getting into the book too.  It’s not that complicated of a story.  There are really only about a half dozen characters in the book:

Rabo–he is an American Abstract Expressionist painter (contemporary of Jackson Pollack, Jasper Johns, et al).
Circe Berman–she is an author who writes under the pseudonym Polly Madison (ha).  Madison’s books look at the real life of American young people and are staggeringly popular.
Paul Slazinger–Rabo’s next door neighbor who spends most of his time in Rabo’s house, although he and Rabo mostly ignore each other.  Slazinger is a writer with a decades long writer’s block.
Dan Gregory–a famous artist for whom Rabo apprenticed.  Gregory was such a good detailist that he once created a perfect forgery of a bill (on a dare).  Gregory was also a terrible racist and philanderer and treated Rabo with contempt at best.
Marilee Kemp–Gregory’s mistress and sometime muse.  She inadvertently sends Rabo an encouraging letter on behalf of Gregory and then she and Rabo begin a writing relationship which blossoms when they eventually meet. (more…)

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