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Showing posts from November, 2014

Kung Fu Comics: The Hands of Shang Chi

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I've previously written on my obsession with Iron Fist, and I plan to continue my foray into analysis of later comics in that franchise, taking a look at how they changed with the introduction of Marvel's answer to the Blaxploitation genre, Luke Cage. Before that I want to explore the strange milieu of Marvel's earlier martial arts hero, Shang-Chi, the "Master of Kung Fu." He made his first appearance in Special Marvel Edition #15 in December 1973, six months before Iron Fist appeared and is one of the first heroes of the martial arts comics boom. Created by the interestingly weird team of writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin to cash in on Marvel's recent acquisition of Sax Rohmer's Dr. Fu Manchu and their rights to the Kung Fu television show, he paved the way for future martial arts heroes.

Shang-Chi is a Wushu master, skilled in both hand to hand combat and and weaponry. He uses both, unlike Iron Fist who tends to just use his hands and feet…

Track This: Matthew Sweet's "Sick of Myself"

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Matthew Sweet's "Sick of Myself," the first track from 100% Fun is the type of pure power pop mastery that is good for whatever ails your tired old soul. From the palm-muted opening to the first full clean power chords, the song makes its intentions known, rocking heavily with tight drumming and blasting guitars. The song was a call-to-arms in 1995, and its even better now. Sweet's everyman vocals have a bit of sweetness to them, and it sounds like he's having so much fun. The track harks back to 20/20, the solo work of Chris Bell, and the like, but there is a larger guitar presence, if not a Phil Spector attention to detail. Sweet doesn't take himself too seriously and even with the backing of guitar legends Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd, both members of the far artier, yet no less explosive Television, the song maintains a ramshackle vibe. Listen to the sloppy, but spectacular, solos.

Sweet's lyrical bent is pure power pop love and loss. His word play…

Track This: Hayden's "We Don't Mind"

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It's fall again, so that means that the music around here slows down and gets decidedly folky, if not more rootsy. That's not to say there isn't plenty of metal and rock and roll on the playlist, but some of the slower songs get priority.

Hayden's Everything I Long For is one of those singer-songwriter records that pulses anew on each listen. His simple guitar playing and everyman gruff vocals lend a veracity to his simple tales of love, loss, and boredom. While he has grown as a songwriter since its 1995 release date, the simple power of his unadorned vocals and aching lyrical approach make Everything one of his greatest artistic statements. His song craft has improved, but he has never bettered the album's timeless exploration of pain. Many people remember the single "Bad As They Seem," which put the Canadian singer on the map, an exploration of the narrator's hopeless unrequited love for the women he can't ever date -- a sixteen year old girl a…