Showing posts from July, 2012

The Firepit: A Prose Poem Of Sorts

Dark, murky dusk on a river finds the boys around a raging campfire. Logs are twisted in sharp directions, poking precariously towards the graying sky. The music that comes out of the immense Cerwin Vega speakers is a crackly, tinny selection of mostly old school country and rock 'n' roll, interspersed with metal, punk, indie, and Deep Purple. The portable record player does its best to keep up with the steady stream of dust and dirt from long forgotten grooves. Drinks and beers are lofted skyward in respect for new friendship and ancient camaraderies. The whiskey mixes with the beer in an interminable amount of Krunt pulls, swigs straight from the flask, and attempts at shoddy mixers. Yet the music blares on, not impeded by the sound of a car door cracking or a drunken stumble through the mud to the far away outhouse.

The night eventually winds down. A crack of light is seen in the sky. Political discussions, story-telling, wrestling on the rocky ground, will all drift seamle…

In Anticipation of the Batman!: Building Controversy with the Pows! of a Legend

I'm listening to Damnation as I get ready to go see the new Batman film. I'm scared that it won't meet expectations. As one of the minority who believes that Batman Begins was superior to The Dark Knight, I don't know what to expect from The Dark Knight Rises. I want it to be old school. I don't want it to be anything like the Tim Burton films. Sorry, but I just can't see Jack Nicholson as the Joker. The man just played himself. He did a great job with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but as the Joker he was subpar. Even Heath Ledger did not capture the Joker of "Death in the Family;" he explained himself too much, and gave off a decided church lady vibe. Take that, Dana Carvey.

I'm hoping the new film will satisfy my youthful Batman needs. The original Tim Burton movie floored me as a kid. I never saw anything quite like it -- I collected the movie cards with relish; I still have all of them. I remember the first Batman comic that I ever read…

Bands You Should Hear: From Noise to Shoegaze and the Patterns in Between

In the interest of reviewing seemingly left field (at least for this blog) records, I bring you some thoughts on several of my newest summer finds. The Ruiner. EP by Atlanta's Whores really surprised me. Given their name I was expecting another black metal or generic hardcore band, but the record recalls the best early moments of Helmet or Unsane complete with staccato rhythms, crunchy guitars, and the like, all blended into a sweet cacophony of sound. Christian Lembech's vocals even recall young Page Hamilton before he blew his voice out. The lyrics are introspective without being overly artsy. On "Daddy's Money,"the guitars lead a call and response with the vocals and the lyrics discuss typical social striations, but the band has enough melody and chops to make the track definitive. On "Fake Life," similar themes are explored under even more seductive riffs. "Shower Time" finds the band slowing down. The staccato guitar riffs are anchored by…

I Do Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio, or at Least I Want To

Does anyone have the fond memory from childhood of listening to the radio late at night under the covers? This habit seems to be common among the record collecting breed. The Ramones song "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?"celebrates it. For me, it was as ubiquitous as hiding under the covers reading an old superhero comic book, or staying up late watching old horror movies with the subtitles on. Although I can't say that I listened to the same stuff the Ramones did. There was no Murray the K coming out of the speakers in my quiet northern Wisconsin town. In fact, the frequency from the local Top 40 station often drowned out the other stations with a constant buzz of mainstream static.

But the nights that I could get other stations in, I found some interesting music. One of the local public radio stations would play a mix of Native American music, indie folk, and rock 'n' roll. The station regularly blew my mind -- you just didn't hear such variety…

The Plants Are Taking Over

My landlords like the sight of weeds the size of trees. Here are some of the plants that we contend with daily. Straight out of a Swamp Thing comic, they are beginning to take control of the earth.

Summer Classics: Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963.

My soundtrack for the slow summer days is often old blues or soul records. Not that I feel particularly bummed out or blue at the moment, but artists like Son House and Robert Johnson wrote timeless songs that always seem appropriate. Listening to the blues makes me think of past summer days spent walking in the woods or traipsing down to the river to go fishing. While listening to soul reminds me of summer picnics with oldies radio cranked up to ten. Each seem perfect, whether blasting out of a boombox, a phonograph, or an mp3 player. Right now I am savoring Son House's Complete Library of Congress Sessions, but I could as easily be sampling John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. There are so many blues records that seem appropriate for a hot summer day. Soul records are also great, easy summer listening. Sam Cooke and Otis Redding are not far from my turntable in summer months.

Which is why I return again and again to classics like Sam Cooke's Live at the Harlem Club, 1963 -- a ra…

My Obsession with Colored Vinyl

I have long harbored an obsession with collecting colored vinyl. The very first 7 inch I purchased, the amusingly titled "My Name is Erik Yee. My Favorite Band is Green Day," was on green vinyl, and I have been obsessed since then. While not the best record I own on any color, this record still gets played at least once a year. It reminds me of my roots as a pop-punk kid, who still has the goal of collecting all the Lookout! 7-inches on whatever color I can find them. I often dig through bins looking for interesting covers; if the record is on colored vinyl all the better. There is something primal and real about listening to records. You can listen to the analog recording straight from the needle without amplification, and, in a sense, feel closer to the recording process. The crackle and pop as the needle hits the record reinforces this sense of authenticity. When bands release limited color vinyl, not only does it look cool, but it also brings the listener closer. In one …