Archive for the ‘Therapy?’ Category


Drummer has a funny story about joining My Little Funhouse.  It’s especially funny given how young he was and how raunchy the band seems.

This album feels like a hair metal band whose second guitarist had just heard of grunge.  Lead singer Alan Lawlor sounds bratty and sleazy like an L.A. hair metal stud.

There’s some ripping guitar solos (“Destiny”) and big soaring ballads (“Wishing Well”) and there’s a dumb straight up rocker (“L.S.D.”).  There’s even the quiet intro (lighters up in the air) “sensitive” song (“breaks my heart/tears me apart”), “Anonymous.”

The one musical surprise is the summer guitar intro of “Been too Long” which sounds like it belongs to another song all together.  Although the bass/drum clap along is pretty apt.  “raintown” is another song that is a little unusual here–it feels like a B-side.  Lawlor’s vocals are toned way down and the production is much softer.

Perhaps the one thing that sets them apart from the West Coast metal is the song “Catholic Boy.”  Yup, it’s just as sexual/ist as a typical metal band, but the specificity of being Catholic seems very Irish to me.

My Little Funhouse opened for Guns N’ Roses when they toured Ireland.  And that makes perfect sense.  This album is completely of its time (or maybe a year too late).  With the right exposure, they would have been huge.  But this is the only thing they released before they broke up.

[READ: December 30, 2020] Irish Drummers Volume 1

I received this book at work and thought it would be interesting to look though.  I flipped through the names in the contents and was pretty sure I hadn’t heard of any of these drummers.  But it turns out I knew a lot of the bands they played in, just not their names.

Gilligan says that he created the website Irish Drummers several years ago.  It was an opportunity for him to interview Irish drummers and celebrate them.  Gilligan himself is a drummer but never really played with any bands.  Probably the most famous Irish drummer, U2’s Larry Mullen, Jr is not in this book, but he is on the website.

Gilligan thought it would be very cool to publish a book and here it is. The interviews are truncated for the book, you’ll get a lot more online.

Each interview has a picture (or two) and three to seven questions.

I have made some notes of interest from the drummers who had something unique to say. (more…)

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blacksad1SOUNDTRACK: GIRL BAND-Live at Kex Hostel in Reykjavik (November 8, 2014)

girlbandlive This brief concert finally allows us to see just how Girl Band make their unholy noise.  And yes, it is just four guys–guitar (and a whole lot of pedals) bass drums and a vocalist.

“Sexy Wife” has staccato guitars until the real noise kicks in for the chorus (oh, so that’s how he does it).  It’s also fun watching the bassist remain largely calm while still playing some unsuaul high notes on his instrument.  The drummer doesn’t have any fancy gizmos, but he keeps a steady loud beat.  And I love that the singer is quite a pretty fellow in his Oxford shirt and parted hair (but he can scream like the best of them).

“De Bom Bom (their newest single) is just full of noise and more noise (how can you have chords if it’s just staicky noise?) as the bass rumbles along.  This song is intense.

“Heckle The Frames” is a noisy chaotic pile of hardcore (and is about 90 seconds long).  It’s followed by “I Love You” a cover of the Beat Happening song.  For this one, it’s pretty much all bass and drums while the guitarist fiddles with his pedals making a larger wall of noise until he begins playing a ringing open note.  I don’t know the original, but I imagine it’s nothing like this.

“Lawman” shows off just how noisy the bassist can be in the opening moments.  And his riff, coupled with the noisy riff of the guitar, make for such an enjoyable combination.  I love how the song which you assume is over–at about the length of their other songs–suddenly turns into something else altogether–a sort of guitar solo, if you will.

The final song is “The Cha Cha Cha” which is all of 25 seconds.  It’s a pretty great set if you like your music noisy.

[READ: March 19, 2015] Blacksad

This book collects the first three Blacksad volumes: Somewhere within the Shadows (2000), Arctic Nation (2002) and Red Soul (2005).  I’m only bummed that it took me so long between books to read them.  They were translated by Anthya Flores and Patricia Rivera

It’s amazing to see that it takes two or three years between books, but when you look at the visuals, it is completely understandable.  The drawings/paintings in these volumes are simply incredibly.  They are incredibly realistic with exquisite attention paid to detail.  The fact that he can make people with animal heads seem sexy is really a testament to his drawing skills.

Okay so Blacksad is a noirish detective series with a slight twist.  John Blacksad is a cat.  Well, he is a human shaped person with a cat head.  But otherwise he is very much a detective–he is hunky, has smoldering eyes and is a really hard dude. And that first story opens with his former lover dead in her bead.  She is so pretty (and colored in pale fleshtones), that one might be hard pressed to see her as a car (except for the ears).

This mystery is personal and John sets out to find out who wanted his former lover dead. (more…)

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amarilloSOUNDTRACK: GIRL BAND-In My Head (2012).

inmyheadI enjoyed “Why They Hide They Bodies Under My Garage?” so much that I immediately went to Girl Band’s bandcamp site to check out their other releases.

They have a bunch of EPs and singles out.  This was their first one.  It’s hard to believe that the band who is so experimental with noise and feedback sounds so different just two short years ago.

I like this single (which is only two songs and which you can get for free from their site), even though it has none of the more noisy elements that would come on later songs). Having said that it’s not like these are sweet ballads.  They are plenty noisy, just in a more conventional indie rock vein.

They actually sound a bit like a Steve Albini project–sharp guitars and feedback (and both songs total 5 minutes)–and an aggressive feel like Therapy? perhaps.

“In My Head” has a pretty conventional rhythm section (which unusual guitars) and a rocking chorus that is pretty catchy.  By the time the singer starts screaming the chorus the second time around, a lot has  been packed into 2 minutes.  “Conductor” has a thumping bass line that propels the song while the guitars alternate between ringing dissonant chords and a squealy guitar line.  The vocals are almost spoken and sound like someone but i can’t quite place it).  And once again, the chorus is strangely catchy under the noise.

But make no mistake this is still an abrasive bunch.

[READ: December 29, 2014] Blacksad: Amarillo

So I see now that this is actually the fifth book in the series, not the third.  I’m glad I found the fourth volume before reading this one.  I hope to get the first 3 volume set soon.  There’s a wonderful introduction by Neal Adams who puts some context and admiration for these guys’ work.

I enjoyed this story a bit more than A Silent Hell (which was really, really dark).  The fact that this one is so bright on the cover (and while I thought amarillo meant yellow (which it does) it is also set in Amarillo, Texas.

It opens with two lions–both writers–sitting by a pool.  The one writer (who is bigger in general) throws his poetry into the pool out of artistic honesty, while the other sits, aghast.  The poet then tries to throw the other writer’s scroll of a novel into the pool as well, but when the novelist talks about his work he did the poet scoffs and says he should think of it not as work but as poetry.  They depart with hard feelings between them. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?: Music Through a Cheap Transistor: The BBC Sessions (2007).

I enjoy the title of this disc quite a bit.  Fortunately, I also enjoy the music quite a bit.  This is a collection of BBC recordings from Therapy?

It’s a strange collection in that they recorded songs on five separate occasions and yet there is a lot of duplication of tracks (the liner notes deal with this issue).

John Peel Sessions (and there’s much made in the liner notes about the fact that they thought they’d be meeting Peel himself when they went in, when in fact it was just a random engineer) are essentially live recordings done in the studio.  They tend to be slightly more experimental (done after a band has toured and messed around with the songs some) and for some bands (like Therapy?) they tend to be more raucous.

This collection was recorded from 1991-1995 with a final show in 1998.  Obviously the band isn’t thinking about the future CD release of the sessions when they recorded these sessions, so it probably didn’t seem strange to record “Totally Random Man” 3 times.  But it does seem strange to listen to it like that.

The songs are definitely rawer than the studio versions.  Even their more poppy tracks from 1998 are a bit harsher.  However, their first EPs were really raw, so these songs sound much better (much cleaner).  They also include a lot of fun/weird unreleased tracks and covers.

My only complaint is that neither version of  “Teethgrinder” features that awesome drum sound that is my favorite part of the track.  Otherwise, it’s a great collection.

[READ: June 1, 2010] Lost in the Funhouse

I checked out this book so I could read the title story.  I enjoyed that one quite a bit so I decided to read the whole collection.  The Author’s Note says, “while some of these pieces were composed expressly for print, others were not. For instance: “‘Glossolalia” will make no sense unless heard in live or recorded voices, male and female, or read as if so heard.”  Um, yeah.

The first story: “Frame-Tale” consists entirely of this: “Cut on dotted line, twist end once and fasten AB to ab, CD to cd.” The cut part is a strip of paper that reads: “Once Upon a Time There/Was a Story That Began.”  It’s cute.

The next story, “Night-Sea Journey” is a proper story of a night sea journey. The secret to the story is gradually revealed, and is rather amusing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BBC Sessions (various).

Many many bands that I like have recorded tracks for the BBC.  And after several sessions, they tend to get released as BBC Live or BBC Sessions discs.  In the last few years, I’ve gotten discs from the Cocteau Twins, Tindersticks, The Beautiful South, Belle and Sebastian and Therapy?  One of the first ones I’d every gotten was The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow.

I’ve always loved these releases.  The recordings are “live,” even though they’re not in front of an audience.  For the most part they don’t vary greatly from the originals (that’s not always the case, mind you, but most of the time it’s true.)

What makes these releases so great is that by the time the bands do these recordings for the BBC, the original album has been out a while and the band has toured a bit.  So, they know the song backwards at this point, and they usually record a version that’s faithful to the original but a little more playful.  I always thought that the Hatful of Hollow versions of songs were better than the originals.  It was many years before I understood why there were two “official” releases of the same songs.

There are so many BBC recordings out there (this is an incomplete list).  If you like a British band, chances are they recorded some sessions.  And I don’t know if the BBC is hard pressed for money or what, but they seem to be releasing them by the handful lately.  The biggest problem of course is that most of them are not available in the States (at least for a reasonable price).  And that’s a drag.  So find them used and enjoy!

[READ: May 19, 2010] Girl with Curious Hair

This is DFW’s first collection of short stories.  I clearly bought this copy soon after finishing Infinite Jest.  I was delighted to find as a bookmark an old stub from a sub shop that I used to go to all the time when I worked in Cambridge, Ma.  I wonder if that sub shop is still open.  It was in Brighton, was more or less on my way to work, had a predominance of Irish products and had delicious subs that were almost cheaper than buying the stuff yourself.  I had checked off a few stories in the table of contents (most of the shorter ones) but that stub brought back more memories than the stories did.  I didn’t even recognize the ones that I had apparently read.

And the stories are pretty memorable.  So I wonder if I didn’t read them at all.

The first story is “Little Expressionless Animals” (or, the Jeopardy! story).  In fact, if I may back up, the whole collection is really rife with pop culture, especially television references.  In David Lipsky’s book, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself , DFW states matter-of-factly that he has an obsession with TV and pop culture, so this shouldn’t be surprising.  But for me it was disconcerting to have the pop culture not incidental or as a set dressing, but absolutely central to the stories. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?-Lonely, Cryin’ Only [single] (1998).

I have a few Therapy? singles, but I wanted to mention this one specifically because it has two “new” recordings on it.  The first is of “Diane” the Hüsker Dü song that they first recorded on Infernal Love.  The second is of “Teethgrinder” their first “hit” off of Nurse.

I’m always intrigued when bands reinterpret their own songs, but I have to say that these two remakes are disappointing.  “Diane” is slowed down quite a lot and is very very crisp.  But it rather removes some of the creepiness of the original (and it’s a very creepy song).

As for “Teethgrinder,” the original of that song is stellar.  Any changes can only be for the worst.  And that’s the case here.  There’s so many great, weird sounds from the original (and those sounds make it wonderful) that without them, the song is fine, but nothing awesome.

Fortunately these tracks are b-sides and not really official or anything.

[READ: May 4, 2010] The Review of Contemporary Fiction

This is my first exposure to this journal.  The only reason I bought it was for the main (and only) title in the book–Damion Searls’ ; Or The Whale (which I’m reading now and will review shortly).

The rest of the journal contains Book Reviews and ads for forthcoming publications.  Since I didn’t plan to talk about that back matter in ; Or The Whale, I ‘ll do it here.

There are 22 book reviews in the back of this journal (which itself is 368 pages and only costs $8.00!).  Each book is not quite an academic book, but certainly not popular fiction or non-fiction.  There are a lot of French writers (either in translation, or of books about them).  There’s also some reviews of books that were long out of print (Robert Walser’s The Tanners and two works by Breyten Breytenbach).

The one surprise is the inclusion of a sort of meta-science fiction title by Christopher Miller called The Cardboard Universe.  It’s an encyclopedic guide to a sci-fi author whose initials are PKD. (Phoebus K. Dank–although Dank does have a fictional character called Phillip K. Dick).  It sounds great and yet it is an encyclopedic-style book of over 500 pages.  I’m just not sure if I’m up for it.

I’ll probably never read any of the books reviewed (I barely have time for the stuff I really want to read), but they all sounded interesting in one way or another.   For the entire list of books reviewed and more info on the journal, click here.

After the Book Reviews, there’s a Books Received list.  I assume this is all of the books that they were asked to review.  I wonder if they’ll review all of them?   The only author I recognized in the list was A.S. Byatt.

There’s then a few ads for like-minded publications: n+1, Chicago Review, Trickhouse, which looks fascinating, and Absinthe (new European writing).  There’s also a listing for new books from University of Delaware Press about Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Thomas Pynchons’ Mason & Dixon and William Gass’s The Tunnel (which I really ought to read as that book was a mystery to me).  There’s even critics I recognize in these essays!

The final pages are ads for forthcoming books from Dalkey Archive Press (the publishers of The Review of Contemporay Fiction).  I know Dalkey for a few obscure titles (mostly from Flann O’Brien, but others as well).  The books in this list are from the Dalkey Archive Scholarly Series and include titles like Phantasms of Matter in Gogol (and Gombrowicz); Reading Games: An Aesthetics of Play in Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, and Georges Perec (which I admit sounds really interesting, but which I will likely never read).  The final title in the list is called Don’t Ever Get Famous: Essays on New York Writing after the New York School.  I’m curious about this one.  The book blurb mentions a number of writers that I’ve never heard of, so I can’t decide how to take that title.  I only wish the blurb explained it.

If I were more studious, if I worked in academics, if I didn’t read so many other things, I would definitely subscribe to this journal.  But as it stands, I’ll be just getting just this one (and maybe an occasional other one if the mood strikes me).

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?-High Anxiety (2003).

I hadn’t listened to this disc in a long  time, and I was delighted by how much I remembered (and liked) it.  This was the last Therapy? album that received a release in the U.S.  And it is a solid collection of heavy alternative metal with some seriously catchy bits thrown in for good measure.

“If It Kills Me” could have been a huge hit with a killer chorus and amazing hooks.  As could “My Voodoo Doll” (an outrageously poppy song).  Even the penultimate song “Last Blast” starts out with a low rumbling bassline, but when the chorus comes in it’s warm and catchy (even if again it’s lyrically not warm).

But what’s amazing is how good the whole disc is.  Their previous disc was something of a muddle of styles and textures.  It was an interesting but not entirely successful experiment.  But High Anxiety returns to what Therapy? does best: raw, and noisy alt-metal with really catchy melodies.  Most of the time I don’t even care what Andy Cairns is singing about (it’s usually pretty dark) because regardless, it’s sure fun to sing along.

The final track is a 9 minute crazy mess.  It opens with Cairn’s Tom Waits-ian vocals and a pounding guitar line.  It stops after a few minutes and then picks up again with that pounding guitar line (repeating a little much, honestly, but it is a cool riff).  Then after 7 minutes there’s a new bonus track which is practically like Green Day, it’s so poppy.

This is definitely one of their best discs.

[READ: April 25, 2010] “The TV”

This (very) short story begins with a wonderful concept: a man wakes up one day and calls in sick from work.  He turns on the TV and sees himself, his actual self, finishing his actual job.

The man is transfixed, obviously.  I mean who wouldn’t be?  He tunes in the next day and watches himself drive to work, sit down and begin doing his job–more efficiently than he himself had been doing it!  The credits even indicate that yes, the man is the man.  Amazing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?-Never Apologise Never Explain (2004).

This album is the prior release to One Cure Fits All. It’s not true that Therapy? works on a harsh release/melodic release kind of schedule, although judging by these two discs it sure seems that way.  Never Apologise begins with a blistering, noisy “Rise Up.”  The really notable difference with this disc and other Therapy? releases is the amount of noise in the track. One of Therapy?’s most notable sounds has been a guitar that is so clean it sounds almost unreal.

This disc is far more sludgy (and seems even more angry), witness: “Die Like a Motherfucker.”

The whole disc is fairly short (under 40 minutes), very fast, and in relative Therapy? terms, lyrically not very interesting.  Consider this a solid rawk album.  And, again, one that is not available in the States.

[READ: April 29, 2010] Metrophilias

Brendan Connell’s new book is a short story collection.  And the short stories are indeed very short.  The longest one is 4 pages; most are 2.  There are 36 stories in all and each is named after a city.

I love the title of the book.  Metrophilias.  Technically, what? City love?  Love in a major city?  [Of course the prefix metro- means “mother” so I guess the title is literally motherlove, but that’s not how it’s intended].  And so each short story shows a snapshot of an individual in love in that city.

Each city is represented by at least a small nod that locates it, whether it is a street name or a building, or as in many cases, by an entire culture coming to the fore.  As such, some cities are far more identifiable as cities, and yet the content of the stories is so individualized that the city itself is (in many cases) irrelevant.  Of course, some of them could only be set where they are.  But before I get too obsessed with that aspect of the stories, I should move on to the people on the stories. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?–One Cure Fits All (2006).

I’ve always liked Therapy?’s brand of aggro-alt metal/whatever you call it.  Their earlier stuff was harsh and dark. During their middle years they grew surprisingly commercial (although they’ve always had a bit of a commercial side to them, even at their harshest).

The last album I got from them was 2003’s High Anxiety (the first in a series of grotesque and unpalatable CD covers which culminates with this horrorshow).  I think the band must have lost any kind of distribution deal in the States, because it is still very hard to find these later discs (without paying way too much for them).

I was delighted to find this one on Lala.  And it stands as a pretty solid Therapy? disc.  They have always had guitars that sounded very sharp, almost electronic, which I thought really exemplified their take on angry literate metal.  And this disc opens up with it (after the 30 second “Outro”)

Their earlier tracks (like the awesome “Teethgrinder”) employed sonic tricks that really propelled the songs onto genius territory.  These songs are a bit more conventional, and yet they’re hardly commercial.  The most likely single would be the “ballad” (which also rocks pretty hard near the end) “Dopamine, Seratonin, Adrenaline.”

The back half of the disc is more melodic and catchy (a sort of reversion back to their middle period?). The only song that veers too far into pop territory is the closer, “Walk Through Darkness.”  It’s almost a bit cheesey, especially after all the heaviness of the earlier tracks.

It’s a fun disc, and a shame that it (and those BBC Sessions, which I am drooling about!) have yet to get a proper release in the states.

[READ: April 28, 2010] “Austerity Program”

In one of the letters to The Believer this month a reader suggests that they start printing fiction.  No reply is given to the letter.  At the same time, here is a piece that is certainly fiction.  There is no comment or explanation attached (which is surprising as The Believer usually tells us everything that’s going on in the magazine.

So, I’m going to treat this as a short story.  Tucker Nichols is responsible for the art direction, while David Khoury wrote it.  It is printed as a series of letters on official letterhead (with a logo but no name) stationary.

Much like with the novel Ella Minnow Pea, the “austerity” is a cost saving measure in which letters are removed from general use. (more…)

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