Archive for the ‘Helmet’ Category

[DID NOT ATTEND: May 21 & May 25, 2022] Primus: A Tribute to Kings / Battles

I saw Primus on the tour back in October and it was pretty great.  I would happily have seen them again, even playing the same songs (although I think set two varies somewhat).

I didn’t love the crowd around me (I didn’t realize Primus fans were bros, but I guess they are).

However, this first date was the same day that my wife and I were going to see The Music Man on Broadway.  And the second date was the same day that my family was going to see Blue Man Group.  So, this leg of the tour was not to be.

Battles are a weird band that I tend to forget about.

The two main guys in the band were once in Don Caballero and Helmet, and their music should be really heavy.   But as I wrote when I first heard their song “Ice Cream” back in 2011

But they’re not so much heavy as noisy and crazy.  And this track is a head-spinning amalgam of keybaords, unsettling rhythms, processed guitars and singing from Argentinean techno producer Matias Aguayo.  The lyrics sound like they are not English, but they are (with heavy effects on them).

The song is weird, indeed. But after just one listen, I was totally hooked.  It’s catchy and bouncy and very sunny and it’s a real joy to listen to.

Boy I’d like to see them live.

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[POSTPONED: September 2, 2020] Korn / Faith No More / Helmet / Spotlights


This is a show I only would have gone to if I could get lawn seats upgraded to seats near the front (for about $35).

Korn is one of the few nu-metal bands that I liked back in the day.  I thought they did some pretty interesting stuff with the genre.  And while I haven’t listened to a new song of theirs in probably a decade, I’m sure they would have played some of the early songs too.

I’m only vaguely interested in seeing Korn, so this would have been the way to do it.

Faith No More on the other hand is a fascinatingly interesting band that I would love to see live.  Mike Patton is a wonder in and of himself and I told myself I would see anything that he did if it was close enough.  But then there’s FNM themselves–weird, eclectic, oddball and sometimes catchy.  I don’t know how many shows they will do in the future, but i would definitely like to see them.

Helmet is one of the great heavy bands of the 90s.  I loved their debut album–nothing really sounded like it at the time.  I probably haven’t listened to them in twenty years, and I think there have been some fifteen people in the band over the years, but I’ll bet they are still heavy as anything.

I saw Spotlights open for Deftones a few years ago.  They were great. Heavy and doomy, making a huge sound.  And there were only two of them.  There are now three members, which might mean they are even bigger.  I’ve been meaning to see them again.  They play a lot of smaller clubs, but I never seem to be able to catch them.

The good seats were way too expensive for this show, but if I could have done it on the cheap, I would have really enjoyed it

Since this show is officially cancelled, I doubt they will be touring together again. But I do hope that faith No More can keep it together for a tour next year.


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SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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june2014SOUNDTRACK: BATTLES-Glass Drop (2011).

220px-BattlesGlossDropI didn’t know anything about Battles before I heard the single, “Ice Cream.”  Battles are an experimental band comprised of the guitarist from Don Caballero (one of my favorite post-rock bands) and the drummer from Helmet.   And they write music that is very angular, with lots of stops and starts and direction changes.  There’s some story about their first album (which I have not heard) having a singer who left just before the recording of this album.  And the remaining trio’s solution was to have outside singers sing on certain songs.  And it all works very well.

The majority of the album is instrumental though.  And the songs feature a very distinctive sound that I feel is close to a steel drum, but which I know is actually a keyboard–but that echoing sound is so drumlike, that when the drummer’s pounding is added, the whole album feels like a percussive explosion.

“Africastle” opens the disc with ringing guitars and a melody that uses those steel drum sounds.  After about 2 minutes of slow intro, when the ferocious drums kick in, the song rockets to life in a frenzy of activity and counterpoints.  It’s really quite something.

“Ice Cream” is the song that introduced me to this album.  The guitars are modified to once again a steel drum sound, but the melody and rhythm are so fast staccato that it removes any sense of steel drum especially when the notes are clearly electronic. This song features vocals (no idea what they are saying) by Matias Aguayo.  They compliment the sound of the music.  Despite all the overlapping disparate elements the song winds up being strangely catchy. The way the chaos ends with a simple Dum duh duh dum dum… is very cool.

“Futura” continues in that staccato style but it features an aggressively catchy melody.  “Inchworm” has a fun almost reggae feel amid the staccato noises.  “Wall Street” brings the drums to the fore again as it propels the jumpy melody along.  “My Machines” has a guest vocal from Gary Numan. I have never liked Gary Numan (I need to never hear “Cars” again) but his voice (he actually sings…sort of) works well with this cacophony.

“Dominican Fade” adds some heavier bass and wild percussion notes to this 2 minute track. It even has hand claps and cowbells at the end.  “Sweetie and Shag,” has vocals from  Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino.  She adds a whole new element to the album with her high pitched yet breathy vocals.  A definite highlight.

“Toddler” is a 1 minute sng that feels like a transition into the manic and bouncy “Rolls Bayce” (which Dave Konopka describes as almost wholly an experiment).

“White Electric” start slow with some echoed notes. Then a martial beat keeps time as the notes seems to swirl around. The song builds and builds with more layers until it crashes apart at around 5 minutes.  At which point the song slowly rebuilds itself into a pretty coda.

The final song sounds like a reggae singer but it is actually Yamataka Eye from The Boredoms.  Konopka says that Eye sent vocals and told them to do whatever they wanted with the track.  The band thought “he was speaking Japanese, but he’s just making up his own stuff and he’s repeating stuff that he’s making up.”  The backing noises sound like a whale song.

Despite the weirdness of the album, there’s a lot of poppiness to it, and I think it is a great release.  It also is a great headphones release, if you like that sort of thing.  I need to check out their debut as well.

[READ: October 15, 2014] “Who Will Water the Wallflowers?”

I don’t quite know what to make of this story.  It seemed to me to be full of individual incidents that were all wiped away by the flood that is mentioned in the very first line.

I enjoyed the details of the story quite a lot.  In it, the girl (unnamed) looks after her neighbor’s cat Cha-Cha while Ms Feliz is away.  Cha-Cha is a a Turkish angora, a delicate breed.  And there is an interesting description of the cat after he has gotten wet in the rain.  Sometime the girl sleeps at Ms Feliz’ house (her mom doesn’t mind since they live across the street).

The girl finds sanctuary in Ms Feliz’s house.  Except for Mr Bradley.  Mr Bradley is an enigmatic neighbor–he seems to be home all the time, dressed in work clothes and slippers. It is clear that the girl is uncomfortable around him, but he seems to always be around.  He seems pleasant enough.  He sees her almost every day and always asks “learning something?” to which she doesn’t know what to say.  She tries to avoid him by looking for Cha-Cha, but he doesn’t leave (and Cha-Cha doesn’t show up).  She tells him that she watched a film about geysers .

He replies, “I know a joke about geysers….it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.” (more…)

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harper juneSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Kronik (1998).

kronikVoivod in the E-Force era released two proper albums.  But they also released their first live album and this hybrid collection. So at this point, there were almost more albums with this in retrospect least popular lineup of the band.

Kronik, with the least inspiring album cover of all (the fact that Away doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it even calls into question the “realness” of the release) has eleven songs on it  The first three tracks are remixes.  It’s fascinating to hear these really really heavy songs remixed in a techno way.  I know by this time there was a lot of really heavy techno bands, so this isn’t totally unusual, and Voivod has been experimenting with industrial beats on the last two albums as well.  It’s just fun to imagine these as dance remixes and to speculate who these remixes were made for.  “Forlorn” sounds a bit like Helmet here.  E-Force’s voice is so manipulated as to be almost unrecognizable.  The solo section is also manipulated in a weird way, making this song sound, if not very different from at least somewhat different. There also appears to be some throat singing thrown on to the end of the mix.  “Nanoman” gets the royal treatment—skittery beats, sounds dropping out and a major techno drum beat placed on top of it.  “Mercury” is given a very fast electronic drumbeat but not much else.  But in this version it sounds very classic industrial.

The next three songs are outtakes from the E-Force era.  “Vortex” has a pummeling guitar riff and some massively screamed vocals.  “Drift” opens slowly with some spacey guitars and distant rumbles of drums.  After 90 second the screaming noise kicks into high gear.  “Erosion” has a some steady heavy sections in between the bludgeoning.  They basically all sound like the could have come from Phobos.

The next song “Ion” appeared on the soundtrack to Heavy Metal 2000 the movie and was unreleased until this album.  It has some very cool moments in it and is a little less brutal than a lot of their music from this era.  I rather like it.

The final four songs are live.  “Project X” and “Cosmic Conspiracy” are tracks from the E-Force era, and they sound very close to the studio versions.  I actually prefer E-Force’s voice here, as it is more natural sounding.  “Nuclear War” comes from the very first album. E-Force’s screams are not too dissimilar to Snake’s, although I miss Snake’s pronunciations.  But the music sounds better than on the album.  And then there’s “Astonomy Domine.”  This is the first live recording of the band (and the only song form the pre-E-Force era that’s on a live record.  So it’s exciting to hear them playing this more complex song.  The recording quality is not great, sadly.  But the problem (once again) is E-Force’s voice.  The first verse sounds fine, but as the song moves along he starts screaming a lot more.  And this song just doesn’t lend itself to screaming.  It’s shame.

So this collection is for die-hards and for people who love the heavier period of Voivod (which is not a majority I would guess).

[READ: September 30, 2013] Room 237

This article looks at The Shining, the film by Stanley Kubrick.  It briefly mentions the book by Stephen King, but only briefly.  And actually this article doesn’t so much look at the film as it looks at a film about The Shining called Room 237.  And, actually, Room 237 is more about the people who have obsessed over The Shining for years and who have come up with very detailed theories about the movie.

Some of the theories that these fans have (and which appear in the movie) include: (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_04_13Chast.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-B-Sides & Rarities (2005).


Deftones released this B-sides collection after Deftones.  It contains mostly covers.  They also later released an album called Covers which has all of these covers and some new ones.  Covers was released on Record Store Day and is really hard to get now.  The covers that are extra to that CD are: “Drive” (originally by The Cars), “Caress” (originally by Drive Like Jehu), “Do You Believe” (originally by The Cardigans), “Ghosts” (originally by Japan) and “Sleep Walk” (originally by Santo & Johnny).   Despite those interesting songs, B-Sides and Rarities is no slouch.

“Savory” is a cover of a song by Jawbox.  Chino’s voice sounds so utterly different here, I completely don’t recognize him.  It’s not the most impressive start to the collection as even after a lot of listens the song still hasn’t really stuck for me, but it’s also one of the few songs I didn’t know beforehand.  (It turns out the cover was actually by the band Far (with the members of Deftones playing as well)).  But it was the Cocteau Twins cover that really blew me away.  The Cocteau Twins, an ethereal lighter than air band get a very respectful treatment here.  “Wax and Wane” has a pretty heavy bass line which Chi produces (with cool effects on it), and while Chino doesn’t try to ape Elizabeth’s Fraser’s voice, he does a great job in her register (how he figured out the words, I can’t imagine). Lynyrd Skynyrd’s  “Simple Kind of Man” gets the Deftones treatment with whispered/creepy vocals in the first verse and a big loud chorus.  The cover of Helmet’s “Sinatra” is very heavy (I don’t know the original but I know other Helmet songs) but it doesn’t sound quite like Helmet–a perfect Deftones take on the band, with very low tuned bass strings.  The second biggest surprise comes from their cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love.”  I don’t know the original, but I do know about Sade and this song keeps all of the funky bass and the slinky sexiness of a typical Sade song.  But it adds an interesting slightly sinister vibe that really makes the song stand out.

The band performs a great spooky gothy cover of The Cure’s “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” (at what I gather is a live tribute show) complete with that weird Middle Eastern sounding guitar and the cool splash cymbal.  It’s followed by a great cover of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” and he does a surprisingly good Morrissey.   Their cover of Duran Durans “The Chauffeur” was the first cover that I had heard by the band and it was the first time I thought about how cool a Duran Duran song could sound: win-win.

There are some reinterpretations of Deftones originals as well.  “Change (In the House of Flies)” works very well in the acoustic format–sounding somehow more dramatic.  “Teenager” has a trippy Twin Peaks vibe when it opens.  This is the “Idiot Version” with guys from Idiot Pilot joining the Deftones.  It doesn’t sound all that different from the version on White Pony and yet I really didn’t recognize it out of context.  “Crenshaw Punch/I’ll Throw Rocks at You” is the heaviest thing on the album, with loud abrasive guitars.  It was a B-Side from Around the Fur.  My least favorite track is “Black Moon” which is a sung by B-Real from Cypress Hill.  I liked Cypress Hill a lot back in the day, but there’s something unsatisfying about this pairing–or maybe it’s just that this songs really sticks out on the disc.  The acoustic “Digital Bath” is trippy and very cool–it’s amazing when they strip down their songs, which are usually so abrasive and heavy and they still manage to sound great.  “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” is another acoustic piece with a remix by DJ Crook.

More than just a stop gap or a collection of misfit tracks, this is a really cohesive Deftones album and actually a great place to start for people trying to ease their way into the band.

[READ: March 3, 2013] “Summer of ’38”

This story is about Montse.  Montse is an old woman with three children.  Her husband died some time ago and she is by herself.  Her daughters come to visit her but she doesn’t like to be a bother to them.  On this occasion, her daughter Ana says that she met a man who is writing a book about the war and he would like to talk to Montse to see if she has any recollections of the time (she was a teenager in 1938).

Montse doesn’t want to talk to the man, she says she won’t remember anything and why doesn’t he write the book without her.  But the man arrives anyway.  When he asks her questions, she says she knows nothing about the war.  But he says that a retired general (for Franco) is coming to their town to show the writer war locations.  The general says he remembers Montse’s name and would like to meet with her.  His name is Rudolfo Ramirez.  She says she barely remembers him and that maybe she’s even thinking of someone else.

The writer says it’s not a big deal but is she would like to meet with him he will be at the cafe on Saturday for a casual lunch. She gives a reluctant maybe and the writer leaves. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BATTLES-“Ice Cream” (2011).

My friend Lar told me about Battles way back in 2007.  I listened to the concert he sent me, and it was great. But my memory of the band was that they were really heavy (the drummer was in Helmet and Tomahawk for cripessakes).

But they’re not so much heavy as noisy and crazy.  And this track is a head-spinning amalgam of keybaords, unsettling rhythms, processed guitars and singing from Argentinean techno producer Matias Aguayo.  The lyrics sound like they are not English, but they are (with heavy effects on them).

The song is weird, indeed. But after just one listen, I was totally hooked.  It’s catchy and bouncy and very sunny and it’s a real joy to listen to.   I absolutely must go back and check out their debut Mirrored.

Listen at NPR.

[READ: April 28, 2011] Five Dials Number 6

Five Dials Number 5 was an excellent issue that I enjoyed immensely.  They followed it up with Number 6, which deals with a subject that I was very passionate about in the early 90s: censorship/obscenity.  When I was in high school and college, the PMRC was the big bogeyman for advocates of free speech (of which I am one).  I still advocate passionately for freedom of speech (now that I’m in a library, the issue can be part of my daily life), but it seems like there are so many more important issues in the world, that stickers on a record seem kind of silly.

Nevetheless, as this issue reminds us, those who control what is said control what we hear.  And that’s true for music and books, as well as our everyday news.  So, free speech should never be taken lightly.  Although this issue looks largely at obscenity in England, they also pull up some good information from Jello Biafra as well.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On John Mortimer and Obscenity
John Mortimer appears later in the issue. He was the lawyer who defended Lady Chatterly’s Lover against accusations of obscenity.  And Taylor points out that Mortimer’s attitude was that he “understood the silliness of censorship.”  And with that attitude, he was able to work to convince juries of that silliness.  The rest of the issue looks at important cases of censorship over the years, from The Dead Kennedys to NWA (it’s nice to be reminded about how “dangerous” they were when they came out).  He also laughs at the lame attempts at putting adult content on network TV (Fudge you!). (more…)

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