Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles, Year in Review: 2016 June - Sept.

 July  2016

What the Jenny Clinkscale band brought to the local scene was entertainment value.... you put down your hard earned moolah and in return you witnessed a rock and roll testimonial unlike any seen before or since. Jen Sincero, the self anointed “rock goddess” had cut her teeth in NYC with Crotch (Sara Rotman and Mike Mellett) Crotch dropped one epic tongue in cheek video for their single, “Power Tool of Love” in 1994, then dropped from sight. The video includes a cameo by Adam Ant, Jen's mother and a hair bikini. Dear old mom gets catcalled by construction workers and Jen has no recourse but to take matters in hand. “and then something happened, I felt the biggest burning hunk of man muscle I ever felt in my life” 

Naturally..... Jenny Clinkscale revolved around Jen Sincero and Amy Clinkscale, accompanied by a revolving cast of local musicians (at least 15 different musicians according to Jen & Amy) this included: Leonard Apodaca, Dead Leonard, owner of The Atomic Cantina and co-founder of Socyermom Records. Elijah Mink, a drummer from Seattle who responded to Jen's best selling book: “Don't Sleep With Your Drummer” by stating, “I don't know what I did to her” Jenny Clinkscale's sole album “Mind if We Join You?” is a skillful mix of mid-90s alternative rock influenced heavily by Liz Phair and P.J. Harvey (obviously, seeing how Jen's other band from this period, 60 Foot Queenie derived its name from Polly Jean's song “50 Ft. Queenie” 60 Foot Queenie, formed in Los Angeles is not to be confused with 50 Foot Queenie, a P.J. Harvey tribute band) 60 Foot Queenie wasn't much of a departure from Jenny Clinkscale. Not long after that, Jen ditched the rock & roll lifestyle, declaring herself a failed rock star goddess.

You almost wouldn't expect Lindy Vision to hail from Albuquerque. Visually they present a stunning and exotic image not normally associated with 'Burque or New Mexico for that matter. The three Cuylear sisters, Dorothy (Dee-Dee) vocalist, songwriter, keyboards. Natasha (Na)- guitar,vocals and Carla - drums are strikingly beautiful in a head turning, jaw dropping sort-a-way. Equal parts K-pop divas and new wave rave queens. Raised in Southern New Mexico now making their homes in Albuquerque. Their mixed heritage (Native/African American) sets them apart.... but it's the music that seals the deal. Disco beats for millennial shoegazers. A soundtrack for the debauched rave set. Stripped down intelligent synth pop loaded with sex appeal and danceable rhythms.

I've got the white noise it drives me insane” Lindy Vision's name derives from a passage in Malcolm X's autobiography where he (along with co-author Alex Haley) describes the “Lindy Hop” dance culture (a predecessor of the modern dance club scene) “The spotlight would be turning pink, yellow, green and blue, picking up couples lindy-hopping as if they had gone mad” In this sense, using modern vernacular, Lindy can be defined as "turnt up " Positive/Negative... as the party rages on, we feed off the contradictory nature of a world divided into either fun or serious things... pink + black. Innocence pitted against the relentless need for a stimuli, be it sex, drugs, music. All the while, facing a dilemma: that eventually those turnt up must turnt down “You want the white horse to come save you now”

Take Liz Phair's cocksure sexual self awareness, give it a garage punk beat, filter it through the experiences of a young Chicana growing up in Denver, before being abruptly uprooted to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mx...... mold it into unruly three minute discourses on alienation, displacement and the never ending war against misogyny (in this case the machismo culture that infects Mexican society) and you have Teresa Suarez, aka Teri Gender Bender, the clever, sensual and mesmerizing musician behind Le Butcherettes. She's a unique musical bi-product of clashing cultures, who rages against the machine with rancor and honesty. Teresa sings in her native language... English, though she's equally proficient in Spanish. Her unmistakably American vocals, give away her extensive musical influences.

The Tapatio whirlwind wields a guitar like a cleaver.... all down strokes and slashing riffs (Teri asked her father to buy her a guitar at 10 years old after she had dreams about playing the guitar) On stage she demands your attention. Seeking to satisfy her need to feed your soul, punishing her instruments.... smashing her keyboard, then tossing it aside like an inattentive boyfriend. The uninitiated are taken aback. The divide between her and the audience melts away, Teri stage dives backwards into their midst, arms outstretched. She begs for punishment and finds only admiration, love and an occasional call to “show us your titties” Teri builds to a raging orgasmic climax. The fans eat it up. It's a mental health balancing act not seen since sullied Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi was titillating the masses. 

August  2016

The third installment in a three part series showcasing the women involved in Albuquerque's music scene is cued up and ready to spin. Until the late 1990s few women were involved in the local music scene and only a handful managed to release any recordings. Prior to that it was strictly a boy's club with a few rare exceptions. Beverlee Brown joined future husband Sidro Garcia in The Sneakers shortly before they relocated to Las Vegas, Nv. in 1964. The Feebeez ('Burque's legendary all-girl 60s garage band) recorded legacy consists of one scratchy self-released vinyl 45) Kid Sister w/ Victoria Woodworth are a bit of mystery. Bandmine lists them as being from Albuquerque and having been signed by MCA records. Yet, I haven't found much evidence that they actually were from 'Burque. Kid Sister rose to become a regional favorite based in Denver, Co. Could be they hooked up with Victoria Woodworth (raised in Denver) after they relocated.

Who of course, doesn't remember Femme Fatale, fronted by Lorraine Lewis (also lead singer for Babe Ruthless) they found success on a national level that few thought attainable for a local band. That success would prove to be short lived and bittersweet. Lorraine remains one of the most recognizable musicians to hail from the Duke City, becoming somewhat of a cult figure with heshers hellbent on reliving the 1980s. While we're on the subject. Twenty five years after the fact, Femme Fatale's aborted second album for MCA has seen the light of day. "One More For The Road" released this year on F n A Records. (compact disc only, no plans for a vinyl release) Lorraine, Bobby, Rick, Bill and Maz.... it's like they never left us. A time capsule from an era of Albuquerque's rock history that often gets neglected or lampooned. “One More For the Road” appears to have been released in limited quantities, check online for availability.

Albuquerque is a quizzical mix of open hostility and open armed bienvenidos.... meted out in equal increments that can be both puzzling and maddening. Bad things happen to good people here and bad things happen to bad people with alarming regularity as well. The prevalence of Spanish spoken throughout the city, is perhaps the biggest change that I've noticed. The line separating the homogeneous white heights from the rest of 'Burque is almost blurred beyond recognition. What were once good neighborhoods are now bad and what were once bad neighborhoods are now gentrified.

Albuquerque as I once predicted has become more like Los Angeles or Phoenix. Though to be honest, the entire southwest has become more like Los Angeles or Phoenix. The one thing that has remained constant in the Duke City is the music scene. It continues to thrive with an upsurge of creative and talented musicians heading up a growing list of bands and projects that rival those of any other major metropolitan area that comes to mind. No shit. Albuquerque music makes Albuquerque a better place to live, it's proof positive that there's intelligent life here.

Question: which of the following genre tags best describes Wall of Voodoo.... new wave, post punk, alternative rock, dark wave, cowpunk? It's a trick question, they all apply, unequivocally. How many times did you try and play Wall of Voodoo at a party only to be met by belligerent bellows of “Take that punk shit off!” Lead singer, Stanard “Stan” Ridgway drawled with jaded detachment.... a flowing river of abstract pronouncements, delivered with an unmistakably American west coast accent that echoed western movie heroes and any number of their nasalized sidekicks. “Cause I can tell at a glance you're not from 'round these parts, Got a green look about ya And that's a gringo for starts” Stan had the necessary tools: a shitload of confidence combined with an endless reservoir of arrogance.

Guitarist, Marc Moreland specialized in big rich rolling tones, shamelessly lifted from Morricone spaghetti western soundtracks and spiced up with some Dick Dale inspired surf licks. Stan would introduce “Morricone Themes” by announcing: “Here's a little film music for you” Marc Moreland, one of the truly underrated guitarist from the 1980s. On stage Marc and Chas T. Gray gave off an underlying sense of hostility. Two So Cal bros ready to stomp your ass into a mud puddle at any moment. “If it's the rough stuff ya want You can point yer finger at me” Gray's encyclopedic arsenal of keyboard riffs gave Wall of Voodoo a “new wave” sound not unlike that of “Duty Now for the Future” era Devo (Can't Make Love and pretty much the entire “Call of the West” album)

  September 2016
Dirt City Chronicles was born of an idea that a radio station playing primarily local music could be feasible. It wasn't, although the advent of online streaming made that a mute point. Terrestrial radio, hampered by the FCC's archaic adherence to rules and regulations (in place since the early days of radio) simply can't compete with streaming apps such as Pandora, Slacker, Spotify etc. All of which allow users to program their own tailor made streams. After exploring possible online broadcast apps such as Shoutcast (too expensive, complicated) I determined that podcasting was the obvious choice.
Thus Dirt City Radio was born.... with a slight hitch, a local band was already using that name. Radio became Chronicles and there you have it.

All I lacked at that point was a file host. After some research, I settled on Pod Bean, a competent app that provided cool embedded players, though overall the process of posting episodes was rather tedious. There was one major drawback to Pod Bean, initially you pay $29.99, after that Pod Bean essentially holds your audio files for ransom. Forcing you to renew at their escalating rates or your links go dead. Dirt City Chronicles is a not for profit undertaking, leaving me to explore whatever free options the internet had to offer. YouTube was the obvious choice. It's free, you can upload files of any size (once you register your mobile number) and as long as you don't run afoul of YouTube's copyright restrictions, the sky really is the limit. Another option for those working on the cheap is Unlimited uploads, no file size restrictions and little if any copyright hassles. The internet is forever and these links will never go dead.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles, Year in Review: 2016 Jan.- May

March 2016

First post of 2016.... it being three months into the new year and all. I plead guilty with an explanation. Dirt City Chronicles, after 16 years exiled to the bootheel country of SW New Mexico is now back in Albuquerque. With turnarounds to Amarillo and Deming and a 24 hour motor trek from the Duke City to Appleton, Wisconsin out of the way, I can finally settle back into my regular routine of gutter sniping. From the desolate outbacks of New Mexico to the outskirts of Albuquerque's westside, Dirt City Chronicles is back up and streaming in glorious, compressed stereo. Boy Howdy!

As a rule of thumb, post rock i.e. emo/screamo/math rock bands drew the ire of local music aficionados. Looked upon as a blight, the boys of angst never received their due nor garnered praises worthy of their respective musical talents and recording output. The locals didn't warm up to them, maybe it was the indecipherable lyrics or the swirling racket over which they screamed. Whatever it was, you can't unring that bell. Oh! Ranger, Kid Crash, Your Name in Lights, Pilot to Bombardier, Dear Oceana, The City is the Tower..... we can sing their praises now, it's ok. As a whole, they combined to create a definitive Albuquerque sound that went shamefully unnoticed. Archabald belatedly carries on that tradition.

April 2016
“The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes” or as the case be, Prince. The world mourns the passing of music's second most enigmatic celebrity (surpassed only by Jacko) He was totally fucking cool and bad exaggerated foppish mini-pimp decked out in puffy sleeves and every shade of purple imaginable. I gotta say though, I was never a huge fan. As for his status as musical genius, lest we forget, the Love Symbol formerly known as Prince, followed up “Purple Rain” (a trite, quasi-biographical musical, chock full-o- drama for yo' mama and bad acting) with the much maligned “Under the Cherry Moon” (a self indulgent, pretentious clunker, filmed in black & white, no less)

Prince's performance at Super Bowl XLI in 2007 was electrifying. (the bar for halftime entertainment having been set quite low..... Up With People, Tops in Blue, Aerosmith, the Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction) Opening with a thunderous refrain from Queen's “We Will Rock You” under storm clouds, then seguing into a muscular arena rock take on “Let's Go Crazy” The crowd rushed the love symbol stage platform in a scripted frenzy. Prince effortlessly worked in covers of Proud Mary, All Along the Watch Tower and The Foo Fighters' Best of You before closing with a rousing version of Purple Rain complete with audience sing-a-long. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Few local bands of late have gained as much notoriety as Glitter Dick. Their Tom of Finland inspired record release flyer in 2012, was described by the Weekly Alibi as “borderline pornographic” it caused one UNM student to lose his shit, grousing that “the image caused him to lose his appetite” Deemed tasteless and pornographic by the administration, the flyer was banned from campus. Glitter Dick followed up with a poster featuring Tom of Finland, Robert Mapplethorpe and a few other artists.... which didn't help matters any. Posted around the UNM campus, they were quickly torn down, though the administration denying having anything to do with their removal.

In 2013, Glitter Dick then appeared on the syndicated court-tv show, “Judge Mathis” under the pretense of lead singer Kendoll Killjoy suing guitarist Magnum P. Nye. The band would later reveal that the television appearance was nothing more than a creative way of funding their debut album “Sparkling Richard” The video of that particular episode has since been pulled from YouTube. Johnny Wilson (The Gamits) conducted an interview with the band for his website “For the Love of Punk” he tried in vain to pry the details from Killjoy and bassist Dee Dee Ramen (Kenta Henmi) Ramen cut him off, advising Wilson that his wife is a lawyer while tossing in a curt “Don't Worry About It” True, she's a partner in the law firm of Maruchan, Ramen & Noodles.

May 2016

A to Z, women in Albuquerque are doing it. That hasn't always been the case, throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and into the mid-1990s women (with a few rare exceptions) were absent from the local scene. We've since witnessed an amazing turn about, women are now firmly planted at the forefront of Albuquerque's local music scene. This has brought about a shift towards more experimentation and genre bending than ever before. Events such as the Denver based Titwrench Festival, the local Gatas y Vatas festival (which expanded to Oakland, Ca. In 2015) ABQ Zine Fest and venues such as The Tannex, are all spearheaded by women bent on building not just a cohesive musical scene but an inclusive and varied artistic community. This installment of Dirt City Chronicles (the podcast) is the first of a triumvirate showcasing women's contributions to 'Burque's local music scene. Three hours that are but a sampler of the astonishing and varied music produced by our better half. Beam me up, there is intelligent life here after all.

If you follow Albuquerque's music scene, you can't help but notice the omnipresent Mauro Woody. A singular songwriter and vocalist who draws listeners into an inviting aural comfort zone. Hugely talented yet accessible, confident, vulnerable and fragile all the same. In her own modest fashion, Mauro has firmly established herself as a unique and powerful voice on the local scene. Mauro's bewitching delivery, accented with a variety of vocal nuances lends itself well to the swirling textures and precise structures of dream pop. That's not to say that she's not at home outside that genre. “Blue Flowers” for instance, rooted in Appalachian folk tradition is delivered as a comforting lilt, a tonic for anguished souls that descends into a dialogue of ghostly whispers at the end.

“Ouch! Welcome to Albuquerque” came out in 1999. That iconic double disc set from Socyermom Records introduced a grip of music lovers to Albuquerque's music scene and it introduced me to Electricoolade and Frankie Medina. Española N.M. The self declared lowrider capital of the Southwest has a rock & roll musical legacy that most New Mexicans are unaware of. Going back to the mid-1960s, The Moving Morfomen (also known as The Morfomen) guided by the totally self confident musical genius of Dave Rarick (an underrated New Mexican rock & roll icon if ever there was one) resoundingly stamped their brand on the regional music scene.

The Morfomen weren't alone, The Defiants scored a minor regional hit with “End of the Highway” and The Era of Sound earned their indelible slot on 60s garage rock compilations with “The Girl in the Mini Skirt” (Cottonmouth i.e. The Wumblies, called Española home before they set off to find neither fortune nor fame) “Everybody's doing something...Soda riding like Pops was doing” Channeling the past and predicating the future.... displaying more swagger than Swaggy P... Frankie Medina burst out on the local scene with Electricoolade, an alt-rock outfit from Española that Flipside, a “legendary” punk rock magazine once compared to The Replacements & Elvis Costello's Attractions.

You can take the man out of España, but you can't take España out of the man. Too cool for school and Santa Fe, Frankie Medina and Calida Salazar (whom he met at a Santa Fe recording studio) set off for Austin, Tx. circa 2005. It's been their home ever since. With Frankie on guitar and Calida on keys, The Dirty Hearts honed the Española sound down to a razor sharpness.... chock full-o-attitude and swagger. Following the release of their debut ep “Five Canciones Five Pesos” and their self titled full length debut “The Dirty Hearts” Frankie and Calida became Austin's darlings. They netted scant attention from major labels, though the alternative press doted over them. 

Anarcho Punk Folk.... is an apt descriptor for the musical trend of combining a punk ethos with unique folk instrumentation. Originally just Alex DenBaars and Beth Hansen working as a ukele and flute duo... unconventional instruments not usually associated with Punk or the Straight Edge movement. From those humble origins Arroyo Deathmatch has evolved into a five piece “hardcore-and-metal-influenced experimental anarcho folk band” Alex-vocals, Beth-flute,vocals Jett-washboard, Matt- bejota~accordion, Cameron upright-grandjo. “Evil folk for evil folks” Stubbornly acoustic, stubbornly sober, stubbornly honest... sworn to an ideal, totally committed to lighting a fire under your ass.

The music grips you. The distance between performer and audience is totally negated. Alex's fully throttled vocals force the listener to listen. No escaping or ignoring what's in your face. With every song, Arroyo Deathmatch builds to a seemingly chaotic crescendo, that is anything but. They're as tight as the Mothers of Invention. No shoe gazing aloofness, no jam band doodling. They electrify, without the use of electricity. The bejota is an instrument of their own invention. It sorta looks like an over sized banjo, but it ain't no banjo. For starters, it only has two strings. The grandjo on the other hand also looks like a big banjo, but its role within the group is similar to an upright bass

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 48

An Addiction to Origins
Record collecting is an infinite journey backwards”

Many have tried to compose a complete history of Albuquerque's music scene and many have failed. The downfall of most music scribes attempting this is that they fail to grasp the complex nature and immense depth and variety within the Duke City's local music scene. A little over a year ago I took on this challenge and set out to write as complete a history of 'Burque's garage / punk / soul beat scene in the 1960s as has ever been written.... I'm leaving it up to you to determine whether I failed or not. While not on the scale of Doctor Zhivago, it is of epic proportions. The size of which led my older sister (a retired librarian and school marm) to say that there were too many words. Well, powder my fuse. Imagine that, a librarian complaining about too many written words.

When writing pertains to historical facts, leaving something out for the sake of brevity is akin to writing a history of the Civil War and ignoring The battle of Gettysburg. If there's anything that I've learned from years of reading Rolling Stone, Creem, Goldmine, Bomp and Trouser Press, it's that pertinent facts such as recording labels, session players, release dates etc. are the holy grail for a music completist. Leave them out at the risk of killing your music nerd street cred. I blame Twitter for this aversion to reading. That social networking service favored by none other than Donald Trump has conditioned users to peruse snippets of text enhanced with emojis. Anything longer than a single line of text is too fucking long. Shortened attention spans, the bane of writers. Fuck Twitter.

Compleat: (the archaic spelling of complete preferred by persons who obsessively pursue a philosophy which includes the completeness of something) In this case, something being every recording ever made by which ever artist your mind is tangled around at the time. In the mid-1970s, I was lucky enough to be stationed just outside the Bay Area (Travis AFB) which gave me access to two of the greatest record stores ever conceived. Aquarius Records at its original store in the Castro District and Recycled Records in San Francisco's North Beach ("I'll buy anything." owner Bruce Lyall once declared, in jest) Both shops survived well into the next century. Aquarius finally gave up the ghost earlier this year, while Recycled Records having diversified, transitioned to online sales.

I started out in the mid 1970s, a crate digger obsessively seeking out every record put out by The Flaming Groovies. To this end I navigated San Francisco's bus routes, all but invisible to the Castro clones congregating along Clone Canyon. Aquarius Records was an isle of normality in an ocean of strange. Known for its commitment to unique and rare releases, Aquarius originally opened in 1970 and had two storefronts on Castro Street. The shop moved to Noe Valley in 1983, before settling at its final location in the Mission District. My biggest scores at Aquarius? “Sneakers” an ultra rare Flaming Groovies ep from 1968. I also scored a copy of “Spunk” the Sex Pistols' de facto alternative debut album, released prior to “Never Mind the Bollocks” both for the ghastly sum of $19.99 each.

Truth be told, collecting is not really about music. Collecting is about collecting. The principle of delight, the quest for a positive emotional reaction upon discovering something unexpected. Here's the kicker, having carefully curated everything I could find, I wound up selling or giving it all away. I know, I know..... a real collector does not sell. I might be a collector, but I ain't no fucking pack rat. Having ditched vinyl in the early 1980s, my collection was top heavy with cassettes, a format that was rapidly in decline. I welcomed the advent of compact discs with open arms. The first compact disc I ever bought?.... “Flyin' the Flannel” fIREHOSE's first album after signing with Columbia Records. Described by Greg Prato at AllMusic as “one of the great lost rock gems of the '90s.” 

"Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen" Gather 'round, I got something to say. A quick rundown on Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode #48..... beginning with another dose of stoner doom from ABQ expats, Boar Worship. Just can't get enough of this band's enrobing wall of sludge. Sun Dog's “Share Your Love” flows with a majestic cock-of-the-walk swagger not heard since Robert Plant's Led Zep heyday. It's refreshing to hear a local band draw on such classic influences. Colin Roxford's vocals have got me all teary eyed and shit.... I just may go out on a limb and declare Sun Dog the best band currently active on the local scene. Nod your head up and down if you agree. Sun Dog is Colin Roxford, John Deyhle, Maxwell Graves & Luz Allison. They work with Will Byrne at Juniper Lab Studios in Sandia Park.

Naturally my opinion is pliable and liable to change at any given moment. These are the salad days for Albuquerque's legion of metal/grind/crust/noise fans. No shortage of talented local bands to be sure. Hanta (named after the virus) describe themselves as “4 boys making loud fun” I'll be blunt, there's nothing truly distinctive about their relentless grind. It's a bit derivative though not without some redeeming qualities. Gnosis is far more experimental. “Simulacra” their 2015 album is a disjointed journey into sound. The basic tropes: a heady mix of shape shifting experimental noise augmented by rock and jazz instrumentation, coupled with cryptic lyrics delivered with the effect of someone whispering into your ear. It's a bit jarring at first, but it grows on you like mold.

It's damn near Christmas and in all likelihood this will probably be my last podcast episode for 2016, a year derided by most as the worst year ever. I beg to differ, I've been around long enough to have seen worse, 1968 for instance. MLK and RFK were assassinated and Richard Nixon was elected. That was a bad year. Some advice on how to survive the Trump years.... when life throws you curve balls, you bear down and learn how to hit a fucking curve ball. In case you missed them the first time around, I present for your reading and listening pleasure: 'Burque Garage: Original Artyfacts from Albuquerque's First Rock Era 1964-69 (in two parts) and From 'Burque to Blackpool, The Classic Era of Duke City Soul. Keep those cards and letters coming in. Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo. Boy Howdy!

Black Wizard ~ Boar Worship
Share Your Love ~ Sun Dog
Contact High ~ Weird A
Corn Dogs to Carbon ~ Hanta
Daedalus in Velvets ~ Gnosis
Eat the Rich ~ Constant Harmony
Bad Vibrations ~ The Flossies
Riding ~ Litter Brain
Red Riding ~ Big Girls
Zip It ~ Gods Got a Gun
Don't Tell Me ~ Weedrat
10,000 Miles to Graceland ~ Colour Me Once
Shit Down All Throats ~ Boar Worship
Unsanitary Coral Extraction ~ Hanta
Walk My Way ~ Sun Dog
Highway 64 ~ Italian Rats
Apocrypha / Other Planes ~ Gnosis

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 47

Albuquerque Sky

Greetings from that island of enlightenment in a sea of intolerance. The land of enchantment, New Mexico. A man can only ignore the "boost" your post button for so long. Tempted by the promise of beau-coup views and a cascade of page likes, I caved in and ran a handful of ads on FB's sidebar. Though highly skeptical of the process at first, I gotta say that initially the results beat all expectations. A second go-round brought me back to my senses. Diminishing results while pouring good money down the FB drain just isn't smart. I did however pick up a dozen new likes, and I would like to welcome those new followers to the one and only podcast and blog dedicated primarily to promoting music produced in New Mexico by artists based in the land of enchantment or with ties to local music scenes. I write about music (local and national) at I produce an ongoing podcast (available on You Tube, Vimeo and Dailymotion) showcasing local music (past and present) gleamed from various internet sources or my own private collection. We got ya' covered. 

On the whole, social commentary and political content are sadly lacking in local music. There are a few exceptions. “We're the Vassar Bastards and we're here to pick your bones” The Bastards (not included on this episode) make no bones about it, they will rub your collective noses in it. Speak up, take a stand, say what you want, mean what you say. Their commitment is readily evident in all their releases, especially so with “Another Person Dead” a defiant middle finger in the face of those thuggish ruggish boneheads at APD. The album is credited to Bostons Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Band..... Boston being the band's guitarist. “Another Person Dead” chronicles the cold blooded murder of James Boyd by Albuquerque SWAT. “We expect them to do as we say, because we are the ones who they answer to. We don't answer to APD. APD answers to the people” Cops are servants not masters. APD demands respect without giving respect.... what the fuck is wrong with this picture?

Before the Vassar Bastards, Racist Cop earned my respect with their unflagging grassroots take on punk rock. “What's the reason for acting so funny?” Outspoken, openly political, capable of kicking up dust at every available opportunity. For the majority of us, living in 'Burque ain't easy. Plebeian hopes for a just society have been dashed on the rocks of the Sandia foothills and in North Charleston, S.C. “Living in my hood, in my neighborhood. People get what they want when the getting is good” Champagne dreams and Trumpian wishes will prove to be empty promises and a recipe for disaster once hoodwinked Republicans come to realize that you can't roll back time and they're nothing but pawns in a rigged chess match. Racist Cop is gone, there's next to nothing about the band online other than their My Space page. They did leave behind one glorious extended player: “These Colors Kill” A live wire five song manifesto that spells it out for ya'.... on your knees or on your feet, your choice. 

Behold Boar Worship's oozing sludge emanating from anguished speakers already tortured beyond repair by repeated plays of Inappropriate Necessity. For those who love sludgy stoner rock, Boar Worship is the musical equivalent of comfort food. A relentless static charged sound so dense and heavy that you could cut through it with a knife. This experimental doom outfit was formed in Albuquerque (2009) relocated to Oakland, Ca. and is currently based in Denver, Co. The release of their debut album “The Decline and Fall of the Christian Empire” in 2009 introduced us to their droning rock of ages and a Brahman inspired dogma designed to lift the curtain to those seeking enlightenment. I'm reading between the lines, but hear me out anyway. “Pro Death” an ep released in 2012 touches on the rejection of lower worship by the militant faiths as a way of explaining why they have conquered and kept a permanent dominion over the world's god fearing masses.

This search for profound spiritualism culminated with the release of “Boar Worship” in 2015. “The interior truths, the divine secrets, the real way of salvation are known only to a few. The great majority of men, being timid and ignorant are concerned mainly in propitiating the powerful and malignant influences by which they fancy themselves to be surrounded” The supremely dominant principle of modern times is that the world is on a course of continual evolution... though the current political climate in our nation leads one to think that Devo got it right, devolution not evolution is our destiny. As we gear up for the coming apocalypse, my soundtrack of choice for end of the world warfare shall be this beastly sound. Beats Wagner’s “Ritt der Walküren” every single time. “Boar Worship” is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. If you suffer from delicate sensibilities or are easily offended just stick with Slipknot or some other equally cartoonish band. 

Laying claim to Albuquerque and The Bronx as their place of origin, Inappropriate Necessity eschewed all pretense and went straight for the jugular, flinging a handful of brief shit stomping tunes at the wall of convention. They described their musical style as “Verbally abusive, drug, and alcohol induced, relentless, un-compromised, straight to the point, hardcore assault” and they weren't lying. Listing “the Local Dope Dealer” and Pabst Blue Ribbon as their managers showed that these fellas had tongue firmly planted in cheek. In a scene saturated with trendy lame bands that play mallcore / deathcore / metalcore / lamecore / techical metal /ect.. humor is a rare commodity indeed. This is exemplified by lead vocalist Dave As One, the skid row version of Cyko Miko (Mike Muir) from Suicidal Tendencies. I'll just describe Inappropriate Necessity as grindcore for those with attention deficit disorder and be done with it. This mindrot is NSFW, though yo' mama may like it.

Marma consists of Charlie Morales (drums) and Tug Keith (guitar & vocals)... a drum and guitar duo usually brings The Black Keys or The White Stripes to mind, but Marma goes down a much more melodic and inventive path than the aforementioned twosomes. Marma released two versions of its debut album “PPHRTD” a live version of the album came out in Feb. of 2016 followed by the studio version in April. An unusual move to be certain. There's a slight variation in tracks and tracking order. Live versions of “You Know” and “I'm Sorry” are in reverse order while “Bukowski” is absent from the live album. “PPHRTD” is an excellent hyperkinetic punk rock album loaded with solid tunes and substantial lyrics that drift about on the edge of being high concept without ever taking the plunge. It's intelligent music that steadfastly retains its raunchy roots, delivered in an energetic and invigorating fashion. Punk rock for the thinking man or woman, that's something I can get behind.

Gee Baby ~ Marma
Don't Wait Up ~ Scatter Gather
F.Y.Y.F.F. ~ Inappropriate Necessity
Burn Your Family ~ Word Salad
Hired Hand ~ Prison of Sound
Heat on VHS ~ Shitty & The Terribles
Blood on the Porch ~ Racist Cop
Icky & The Yuks ~ Icky & The Yuks
Punk Rock Song ~ Sputniq
Loan Groan ~ Litter Brain
Capitalism ~ Then Eats Them
Clear Blue ~ Train Conductor
Johnny Remains ~ Uranium Worker
In the Well ~ Young Lungs
Keelhaul ~ Distances
No Place to be Junky Juice ~ Free Pop Arkestra
One ~ Boar Worship

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 46

Heavy Metal Thunder”

All evidence points towards William S. Burroughs having coined the term “heavy metal” first in his 1962 novel The Soft Machine in the form of Uranian Willy, the Heavy Metal Kid and then in his subsequent novel Nova Express where Burroughs uses the term as “a metaphor for addictive drugs”
"With their diseases and orgasm drugs and their sexless parasite life forms—Heavy Metal People of Uranus wrapped in cool blue mist of vaporized bank notes—And The Insect People of Minraud with metal music" Though Burroughs vaguely gives the term a musical context, I imagine the radical, purposely incompetent rock noise such as that produced by NYC avant noise pioneers, The Godz to be a better match than the riff happy hard rock of the early 1970s.

In the hippie and beatnik vernacular of the day, Heavy was synonymous with profound. Metal represented an industrial element. Originally referred to as acid rock, hard rock or downer rock (a term used by Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward to describe their music due to their fans preference for Quaaludes) Heavy Metal as a musical genre developed almost simultaneously in both the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S.A. The origins of so called heavy metal music could perhaps be traced back to proto punks, The Music Machine, the brainchild of Sean Bonniwell, a heavy metal front man if ever there was one. The band cultivated a dark goth like image characterized by their use of black clothing, black gloves, “heavy” musical arrangements featuring distorted guitar leads and growling vocals.

In the U.K. some consider The Kinks You Really Got Me to be the prototype for the sound that would evolve into heavy metal. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Pretty Things, Deep Purple were just a few of the bands developing what would soon become known as “hard rock” Across the pond, Blue Cheer (Summertime Blues) Vanilla Fudge (with their trademark extended arrangements of hit songs) Iron Butterfly (In-a-gadda-da-vida) Bloodrock (D.O.A.) and Grand Funk Railroad (who defied convention by succeeding without commercial radio play) were early purveyors of the “heavy metal sound” Blue Cheer, named after a strain of LSD made by Owsley Stanley, went against San Francisco's musical conventions to invent a ruckus form of music unlike anything heard before.

The first mention of “Heavy metal” in song lyrics would be Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild, “I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder, racing with the wind and the feeling that I'm under” Kudos to Dennis Edmonton (better known as Mars Bonfire, an original member of Steppenwolf and author of Born to be Wild) for coming up with that line, which may well have been the impetus for labeling the nascent musical genre as “heavy metal” The phrase also started to creep into the language of music critics at Rolling Stone most notably Mike Saunders and Lester Bangs. Saunders famously referred to Humble Pie's first U.S. album release, Safe as Yesterday Is as “a noisy, unmelodic, heavy metal laden shit rock band with loud noisy parts.... 27th-rate heavy metal crap”

It's your one way ticket to midnight, call it heavy metal, desperation on a red line, call it heavy metal noise” New York Times music critic John Rockwell described "heavy-metal rock" as "brutally aggressive music played mostly for minds clouded by drugs" and then in a later review added "a crude exaggeration of rock basics that appeals to white teenagers" He's describing Grand Funk Railroad to a tee and stating the obvious.... heavy metal from its very inception was white noise for white boys. Eventually, the universal appeal of the music cut through racial and cultural divides, making it one of the most popular and profitable forms of commercial music to come down the pike. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the genre ruled FM radio through the 1980s and 1990s. Boy Howdy!

I know that I could make this world so peaceful and calm,
If I could only get my hands on a hydrogen bomb”

Ground zero for heavy metal in New Mexico may well be Carlsbad, an intolerant burg nestled on the banks of the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico. C-bad has sustained a vigorous metal scene for years, producing a number of relatively successful regional bands. With some fluctuation across the “relatively successful” range. Working in a genre that appeals to a limited audience certainly didn't help matters none. Despite oodles of talent and tons of determination, major label stardom eluded these Little Texas sultans of schwing. Footnote: Prom Night Girls, Edgrr, Cidogen, Flood the City, As Idols Fall..... live on only in the minds of hardcore oil patch heshers. Trying to find any mention of them online was an endeavor equivalent to searching for intelligent life at a Trump rally.

If you're talking Carlsbad heavy metal, you have to go back..... way back “The best band that ever came from this area ..Carlsbad,NM. was Banbury Cross..Period..” Perhaps named after an old English nursery rhyme.... “Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse; rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, and she shall have music wherever she goes” (cock-horse meaning a high spirited horse or a hobby horse ) Banbury Cross, formed in the early 1990s revolving around lead singer Tom Ireland plus guitarists Dion Hood and Martin Burris. Don't confuse this Banbury Cross with the slick alt-rock Seattle band from the same period that featured lead singer Gina Ricci, a Martha Davis sound-a-like and don't confuse that Gina Ricci with the shoe shop in Windermere, UK.

In 1995, following several personnel changes and stymied by the usual problems that plague bands, Banbury Cross called it quits.... Sadly, Tom Ireland passed away just two years later. Their languidly paced brand of heavy metal had more in common with the fading “arena rock” style favored by big hair metal bands of the 1980s than the thrash / doom / death metal bands that would follow. For one, the guitars weren't heavily distorted and you could actually understand the lead singer. If you wish to form your own opinion, Banbury Cross still has an active SoundClick page with three tracks available for streaming (Night Shift, Black River, Midnight Run 2) Dion Hood makes mention of a compact disc they recorded at some point. As one chapter of Carlsbad music closed another opened.

N-Cyde (the precursor to Kryoburn) came about from Todd Brashear jamming with Les Huber, which led to Chris Huber joining them (having just acquired his first drum set) They would go on to form the core of Kyroburn, the poster boys for Carlsbad's metal scene. Not sure of the band's full line-up during the early years. (They spent ten years grinding it out before recording their first album) The band has been through several bass guitarists, including Les Huber who takes on the duties when need be. Jared Pace was their bassist at some point, though Derick Richards plays bass on “Enigmatic Existence” Hunter Correll, bass player/vocalist joined after the debut album but left before the release of their second album, he was replaced by keyboardist Kelly Bogues.

It took ten years for Kyroburn to drop their first album “Enigmatic Existence” on the Continental Entertainment label in 2005. Recorded at Krank Studios in El Paso, produced by Eddy Garcia (Pissing Razors, he also produced the 6-track N-Cyde demo for the band. Which included a cover of the Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me) “Enigmatic Existence” is triumph of crisp, clean production, strong, muscular instrumental performances, and the barking vocals of Todd Brashear. While the exact parameters of this organically appealing sound have been explored before (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad) It doesn't detract from the album's overall appeal. Kryoburn carefully culled their influences from the very best of the alt-metal rockers from that period with highly effective results.

AllMusic's take: “This 2005 release is generally decent, at least if one enjoys a big dose of crushing brutality. Not every artist who comes along is obligated to be groundbreaking or innovative” Kyroburn wasn't having any of that “trendsetter” bullshit and once they dropped the hammer on their audience, it's not likely that anyone had any fucks to give about innovation. It's nothing but a party ya'll. Whatever momentum Kyroburn may have garnered after “Enigmatic Existence” quickly dissipated as the band suffered a number of setbacks including a round of personnel changes which left them pondering their own enigmatic existence. “When artists who wear their influences on their sleeves, function as followers rather than leaders, the question becomes, Are they good followers?” 
It took five years for Kryoburn to regroup. They did so by poaching guitarist Allen Scott and keyboardist Sam Logan from Blessed Disease, a metal band originally from Hobbs, N.M. The addition of keyboards added an entirely new dynamic to their sound, which they displayed on their long awaited second album “Three Years Eclipsed” Todd Brashear explained: “It took us awhile to get this done, with all the changes we've had going on, we had to find our legs again” Recorded at the band's own studio, KryoLab, “Three Years Eclipsed” produced by Todd Brashear, really benefits from their collaboration with Tue Madsden, who mixed and mastered the album at Antfarm Studio in Aarhus, Denmark. Todd Brashear: “He has done some amazing albums and we're big fans of his work”

AllMusic wasn't all that impressed: “Three Years Eclipsed pretty much picks up where their first album left off, they still operate on the harsher side of alt-metal, favoring an abrasive, claustrophobic, viciously dense approach” then as if to deliver the head shot, AllMusic concludes: “Now for the bad news, Three Years Eclipsed simply isn't very memorable” they go on to point out that Todd Brashear's “angry barking vocals” simply ape those of Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell. “One cannot help but root for Kryoburn and hope that their third album will be stronger” There would be no third album, in 2011, Allen Scott (who appears to have become the band's torch carrier) released a statement announcing that the band had officially called it quits.

Allen Scott later released a statement declaring that he was in the process of getting the band back together “There is a chance Kryoburn is not finished. Everyone keep your fingers crossed and send us some good vibes” No subsequent releases have seen the light of day, although Allen Scott seems to have hijacked the band's material while carrying on as Progenerate. Not certain if this project includes any members of Kryoburn, though Scott had hinted that he would be working together on a new project with Chris Huber. Twenty years after they first formed, we have to conclude that Kryoburn, Carlsbad's great white hope is no more. In fact the entire Carlsbad metal scene appears to be at a crucial crossroads. Most bands have disbanded or on semi permanent hiatus. Which doesn't bode well.

Inside Everyone is a Heavy Metal Kid

While researching for this article, I came across a Topix discussion on Carlsbad local metal bands. It proved to be more than helpful and highly entertaining. “Kryobum? hahahaha, Toad and his washed up buddys, hahaha,what a joke. How old are they? like 40, haha. Kryoburn, that is a good one haha.” Beat me daddy, eight to the bar “Kryoburn have been around since 1995. They broke up because they were tired of going on tour and coming back broke with no jobs. Everyone's a critic: “Dude stfu! These bands suck! I have been around and seen the original local bands and they were good these "bands" f***Ing suck. They don't play music they make noise and yell at these white kids from the rich side of town that have it good but want to be cool and rebel!” One commentator summed it up well “I knew that this town was not capable of any positive feedback or support for any local talent” Boy Howdy!

Of Graves and Gods, hailing from Oil Center, N.M. was successful enough to release an album “Slit Throat Andromeda” on Candelight USA records (same label that released Kryoburn's second album) and embark on a 2006 tour of the U.S. (which included a pair of shows in 'Burque) The album garnered some less than enthusiastic reviews: “Of Gods And Graves occupies the harder end of the metalcore spectrum. The band’s sound is belligerent and brutal” observed Anna Turgel at Metallian Towers “Then again, the lack of originality, the spoken vocal segments and the non-descript drumming take back most of the aforementioned gains” Dismissively, Ms. Turgel then ponders the tenuous connection between the band's name and C.W. Ceram's history of archaeology “Gods, Graves and Scholars”

All Music's reviewer sorta liked it: “When a band like the New Mexico-based Of Graves and Gods has a recipe that is about 90 percent metalcore and ten percent death metal, brutality is bound to result -- and this is definitely a brutal, harsh, vicious sledgehammer of a CD. Of Graves and Gods' jagged material isn't remarkable or terribly memorable -- other bands have done a better job with this type of approach -- but Slit Throat Andromeda is a generally decent listen if one is in the mood for pure, raw, head-kicking exhilaration” To sum it up, it's a dose of European metalcore for American metal heads who prefer metalcore played by Americans. “Slit Throat Andromeda” is available on Amazon for $1 U.S. plus shipping. Keep the change you filthy animal.

Of Gods and Graves consisted of lead singer Lance Staggs, lead guitarist Dustin Mellenbruch, drummer Jake Rogers, guitarist Shawn Norris and bass guitarist Dustin Norris. The Norris brothers were also members of Lest My Heart Dies, a highly talented Carlsbad metal band that we'll get into next. “Slit Throat Andromeda” was produced by Eddy Garcia whom I mentioned previously as having produced Kryoburn's first album and the N-Cyde demo tracks. Eddy is the drummer for Pissing Razors, a metal band originally from El Paso, since relocated to New York City......New York City? get a rope. Highly influential on the Transpecos metal scene, Pissing Razors have recorded seven albums for a number of labels including Noise Records.

Lest My Heart Dies was a Carlsbad teenage metal super group of sorts. Shawn Norris, Dustin Norris (Of Gods and Graves) Dustin Morril (Through Gore Comes Glory) Todd Brashear (N-Cyde, Kryoburn) Ismael Molina and the ubiquitous Kris Kerby, Carlsbad native and Albuquerque's most innovative and recognized drummer. (Joe Bolt coming in a close second) Kerby, the self proclaimed; One Man Percussion Apocalypse, is best known for his work as Icumdrums, but he also sits behind the drum kit for Leeches of Lore, Tenderizor, Knife City and collaborates on Monica Demarco's solo project Cthulha along with Jessica Billey. Kris also works with Lilah Rose, Sean Lucy and god knows how many others. I prefer to think of him as “Carlsbad's Renaissance Man”

For those of you interested in exploring Kirs Kerby's musical roots. Kris, Shawn Norris, Dustin Norris (who handled vocal duties) along with Dustin Morril, CJ Burton and Bronson Roybal were also involved in Death For the Well Dressed, a metal group that followed Lest My Heart Dies. Both groups released albums, albeit short ones. Lest My Heart Dies' album clocks in at a furious 18:10 and Death For the Well Dressed at 25:51. Both are available on YouTube. My New Mexico music source of choice. As you would expect, both groups have a similar sound, though for being teenagers their musical chops were well developed. To me this says a lot about Carlsbad Public Schools excellent music programs. Marching bands being the main source of rock musicians in the U.S.

Ibleedblood included Thomas Williams (Through Gore Comes Glory) and Wesley Whitaker (pretty sure he's related to Dillon Whitaker of Through Gore Comes Glory) They're best remembered for having won a battle of the bands that led to them opening for Veil of Maya, After the Burial and Within the Ruins during the Lubbock, Tx. Warped Tour stop in 2011. Ibleedblood were heavy as fuck, splendid in all their gut grinding, throat mangling glory. There's still a SoundClick page for the band with six tracks queued up for streaming... do it, do it now! All the Carlsbad bands I've mentioned suffered from “failure to launch” to one degree or another. None more so than Through Gore Comes Glory (Dillon Whitaker, James Dingler, Thomas Williams and Dustin Morrill)

Primed to become the next Kryoburn, Through Gore Comes Glory ran out of steam before reaching their full potential. A long awaited album never surfaced and their presence online seems to consist of a few live concert videos on YouTube that are rendered almost unlistenable by poor audio.
The one thing that jumps out at ya' about Through Gore Comes Glory are Dillon Whitaker's vocals... they can best be described as the sound a bobcat-that-got-caught-in-a-tractor's nuts would make... just before it died a slow and horrible death. All of which led one Facebook commentator to say: “That singer is fucking nasty” Through Gore Comes Glory, like almost every band I've mentioned is in a holding pattern. As are we all, waiting for the next big thang to come outta C-bad.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 46

Retribution Shot- Space Truckers
Unkept- The Ground Beneath
Ramble Song- The Dirty Clydes
Court of Kings- Five Hundred
Gateway- Winterlock
Soul Crusher- Catfish Hunter
The Agent- Sincerely
Night Shift ~ Banbury Cross
Transience ~ Kryoburn
Curbstomp vs. Face ~ Through Gore Comes Glory
Above All ~ Immortal Prophecy
Taking Advantage ~ Arcadian
Alice ~ Cordova
Beneath Desire ~ Kryoburn

Friday, October 21, 2016

Berserker Bonfire Songs

My love for you is like a truck, Berserker....
Would you like some making f**k, Berserker”

“Did he just say making fuck?”.... Berserker, the song that Olaf (Silent Bob's metal head cousin from Moscow) uses to serenade Veronica Loughran (played by Marilyn Ghigliotti) was an actual song that appears on the official Clerks movie soundtrack album, performed by Love Among Freaks. “Girls think sexy” Olaf and his fictional band, Fuck Your Yankee Bluejeans were hardly Death metal... a closer approximation would be early Judas Priest. Death metal is considered a sub-genre of heavy metal music, though over the years, it's morphed into any number of sub-genres of its own. The style evolved from thrash metal (Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer) and black metal (Emperor, Mayhem, Burzum) The style further developed and spread with the relative success of bands such as Death w/ Chuck Schuldiner (not the Detroit band) Venom, Celtic Frost, Slayer and Kreator.

Death metal is much maligned, due mostly to its inherent preoccupation with subject matter such as; death, suffering, destruction and mayhem..... did I mention death and suffering? The primary characteristic of Death metal that sets it apart from other sub-genres are the vocals. Typically, lead singers will employ a hoarse roaring grunt, sometimes referred to as death growls, which should never be confused with vocal fry, a technique used in other forms of black metal. “The vocal fry register (also known as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, croak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrape, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency” Though unproven, growled vocals may have been a part of Viking music.

Death growls are also referred to as “cookie monster” vocals, due to its vocal similarity to that of the Sesame Street character. Regardless of what you prefer to call this mutated vocal style, it's nearly unintelligible to all but the most harden fanatics. “However, the harshness of death growls is in keeping with death metal's abrasive music style and often dark and obscene subject matter” The opposite of this vocal style would be the screamo/crunk pig squeal which is a squealing vocal technique resembling that of a pig. Another quirk that sets Death metal apart from the rest is the use of Death metal English. The ponderous diction accents the ominous music. It's a lyrical style designed to give Death metal lyrics a sheen of intelligentsia. Which is totally lost on the listener unless you can decipher the death growls delivering the message. The music website, Invisible Oranges does a bang-up job of identifying some common traits of Death metal English, albeit... tongue in cheek:
  • Big, polysyllabic words: You don’t have to use them correctly; you just have to use them. These words don’t even have to be real.
  • Adjectives: In Death Metal English, they’re like guitar solos. You aren’t using enough. Add more.
  • Prepositional phrases: Same is true here, too — the more prepositional phrases, the better.
  • Progressive tense: Especially useful for song titles
  • Passive voice: Active verbs aren’t brutal. Passive voice is useful when you need to add more syllables to a line to make it fit the riff.
  • Archaic or pseudo-Biblical verbiage: If you write like you are some kind of ancient, ageless force who is unfamiliar with modern grammatical conventions, you are probably pretty evil. Bonus points for using constructions that evoke the King James Bible, which is ironically among the most metal texts in the English canon.
  • Grandiloquent metaphor: This is death metal. Make whatever you’re talking about sound really big and important.

The difference between the genres is in the details. What primarily separates Black metal from Death metal is the former's adherence to ideological Satanism (not necessarily practical Satanism) Defining the term 'black metal', Euronymous (a founder and central figure in the Norwegian black metal scene) said that it applies to any heavy metal band who are theistic Satanists and write Satanic lyrics. Such extreme ideas repeated by other scene members, eventually caused it to implode upon itself. Not all the musicians and fans were mother loving Satan worshipers, many were bandwagon believers who dropped all pretenses of allegiance to Beelzebub once the shit hit the fan with a pair of highly publicized gristly murders involving key figures in the Norwegian black metal scene.

A wave of church fires preceded Bård Guldvik "Faust" Eithun (drummer for black metal band, Emperor) stabbing a gay man, Magne Andreassen to death near Lillehammer. Faust later confessed that he encountered Andreassen at Olympic Park “this man approached me, he was obviously drunk and obviously a faggot” the two went into nearby woods, Faust confessed: “I had decided that I wanted to kill him, which was very weird because I'm not like this” Faust was armed with a knife because “It's better to have a knife you don't need than to not have one when you need it” He stabbed Magne Andreassen 37 times and kicked him in the head repeatedly. It would later be revealed that, all three men, Faust, Euronymous (Mayhem) and Varg Vikernes (Burzum) were present at the burning of Fantoft Stave Church and Holmenkollen Chapel.

After Varg Vikernes, a protegee of Euronymous formed Burzum, animosity arose between the two men. The motives for what would follow are shrouded in mystery.... a power struggle, a financial dispute or a need by Vikernes to outdo the murder of Magne Andreassen by committing an even more hideous murder of his own. Whatever the reasons, “on the night of 10 August 1993, Vikernes and Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch drove from Bergen to Euronymous's apartment in Oslo. When they arrived there was a confrontation and Vikernes stabbed Euronymous to death. His body was found outside the apartment with 23 cut wounds” Vikernes claimed he killed Euronymous in self-defense, having been lured to the Oslo apartment under the pretense of meeting to iron out details of an unsigned contract. Varg claimed that Euronymous planned to ambush him using a tazer and torture him to death while “filming the event”

"There are very few bands in the history of rock & roll that are undeniable as genuine innovators, Mayhem is one of them." writes Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) in the afterword for The Death Archives: Mayhem 1984-94. (co-authored by Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud) Formed in Norway in 1984 and recognized as the most influential black metal band in the world, they are a group whose story has, over the years, grown so big, so notorious, it often seemed in danger of swallowing them up entirely. Arson and extremism; exploiting the grusome suicide of corpse-paint wearing singer Pelle "Dead" Ohlin and murder of guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth by then bassist Varg "Count Grishnak" Vikernes Today, Norwegian Black Metal is one of the most distinct and controversial subcultures in the music world, its popularity spanning globally to Europe, the UK, the U.S. , Mexico and Brazil. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Radio is Broken

Radio Radio

Recently, Mark Davis who worked for Kmart from the late 1980s to the early '1990s, uploaded over 60 hours of pre-recorded music sent in from the corporate office on cassette tapes. Kmart radio (KMRT) featured an MOR format designed to comfort customers as they browsed through the store's array of discounted goods. It's mostly muzak interspersed with soft rock songs from that era and in-store announcements. Nonetheless, it's a fascinating find for radio heads such as myself. A veritable time capsule of sorts. Mark Davis, for no apparent reason, had the foresight to save over 56 tapes from the trash heap. Years later, Davis converted them into digital files and posted them at Internet Archives where they were met with far more fanfare than he could ever have imagined.

Canned music in stores is nothing new, it's been around forever. Walmart has come full circle with in-store music. Originally (like everyone else) they went with canned music. In the early 1990s Walmart Radio was created as a reliable means of broadcasting important information directly into stores. It evolved to include a morning show hosted by consummate radio pro Terry Berry, the original Walmart Radio legend. However staying true to its policy of “constantly changing things to keep those fuckers on their toes” In 2009 Walmart ditched Walmart Radio instructing stores to play cds' instead. (Terry Berry was long gone at this point) This led to lazy store managers looping the same music over and over.... usually Celine Dion, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or some other inoffensive white bread schmucks. The complaints from associates (most customers are blissfully unaware of the overhead music) came hot and heavy.

This even led to a puppet character named Willie Sellmore (Will He Sell More?) joking to Walmart head honchos at the annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville that “One of my fellow associates recently developed a serious eye-tic from hearing Céline Dion’s greatest hits on loop in our stores.” Ever eager to appease a workforce perpetually threatening to organize a union. Walmart reinstated Walmart Radio. A nationwide talent search to find two associates to serve as morning radio hosts was announced with over 500 cheesy videos submitted from across the country and the two men (sorry ladies, you were shut out) deemed the least offensive of the bunch were selected to become the new voices of Wallyworld. The lucky fuckers were Bo Woloszyn an innocuous bald white guy from Meadville, Pa. and Antonio Williams, an African-American co-manager from Frisco, Tx.

Antonio is inoffensive, not totally lacking in talent and believe it or not when he's in the groove, he spins some killer tunes. Bo plays the straight man, makes announcements and comes off as bland as mashed taters without salt or pepper. The nadir of the Morning show comes when Bo & Antonio muster up a shitload of phony cheeriness and lead the Walmart morning cheer, which in stores, usually follows the reading of daily sales numbers. “Give me a W-A-L-M-A-R-T,” with the rest of the people in the room shouting back the same letter. It's pure cornball, inspired by a trip Sam and Helen Walton made to a filthy tennis ball factory in South Korea. Between the L and the M...... Bo musters up all the personality he can find and yells “Give me a squiggly!” at which point I'm sure Antonio does a butt wiggle. So Help me, Sam. It's corny as hell... but the faithful eat it up.

The entire charade ends with an emphatic chant of “Who's Walmart is this?” to which the now frothing associates yell back “My Walmart!” They should just hand out amphetamine pills at the start of every shift. Wash them down with those Little Hugs fruit drinks that Walmart sells by the millions. Not all stores do the cheer anymore, mainly because it scares the shit out of customers. All in all, Walmart radio isn't that bad. It's a carefully formatted station that mixes Contemporary Hit radio with the that old format warhorse, Good Time Oldies.... sprinkled with just enough country music hits to keep the redneck associates happy. No actual commercials are played, just Walmart ads and friendly reminders designed to keep associates productive and focused. Walmart has licensed tons of music since the days of Walmart Music, so the playlist varies more than that of your average “Hot mix” station. Plenty of hit songs, lots of Beatles, Stones, classic rock, classic oldies and what have you.

Do you have any idea how surreal it is to hear “Sold in a market down in New Orleans, Scarred old slaver know he's doin' alright, Hear him whip the women just around midnight” played overhead in a Walmart at 3a.m.? It gives me the whammy. I still say that the song selections are meant to carry a subliminal message. The Beatles “Don't Let Me Down” plays at crunch time, just as associates are struggling to complete their daily tasks. “When Will I Be Loved” kicks in just after that (I've been cheated, been mistreated) Paul Revere's “Hungry” comes on right before the lunch break and The Guess Who's “No Time” just as the lunch hour comes to a close. Invariably associates will call in with requests for “Proud Mary” ..... “Workin' for the man ev'ry night and day and I never lost one minute of sleepin' worryin' 'bout the way things might have been” or “Working in a Coalmine”.... “Five o'clock in the mornin' I'm already up and gone Lord, I'm so tired How long can this go on?”

The second time I heard Larry from Vernon, store # 3229 in the Great state of Texas call in to request “Neon Moon” It dawned on me that dedications are pre-recorded and carefully screened. During Terry Berry's days, associates abused the request line by sending out mean spirited shout outs.... “Splish Splash” for that associate with a body odor problem. Weird Al's “Eat It” for that grossly obese assistant manager. Oh! that's classic. Walmart Radio's daily broadcast is pre-recorded. I suppose that Bo and Antonio's show is live, though it's hard to tell. Either way, Bo and Antonio broadcast to a captive audience that radio advertising salesmen would die for. (5,000 stores and clubs, 1.5 million associates) Sweet Jesus on the cross, that's just in the U.S. No terrestrial radio station broadcasting today can even come close to matching those numbers.

Hello!... this is Eager Beaver from ghetto Walmart, store #831, Albuquerque N.M. And I'd like to request I Wanna Fuck you Like an Animal..... err!, Closer by Nine Inch Nails and dedicate it to that shorty in Meats & Dairy, she's the spicy Tapatio meatball of my dreams..... Hello? Oh, they cut me off. I wonder why they cut me off?..... Hello?, they keep cutting me off, someone answers but they keep cutting me off ..... Hello?