Friday, December 20, 2013

Top Five Albums of 2013

 I didn't do an album list for 2012. The truth is, that one of the albums on my 2011 list made such an impression on me, it's practically all I listened to in 2012. Yes, Use Your Illusion I & II made an indelible mark on my 2012, and I chose to skip my list and listen to more music in 2013. That I did, but like the previous entries, I choose to profile albums that I got into in 2013, not just albums released in 2013.
 As always, this list is in no particular order.

10. Drive By Truckers, Southern Rock Opera:

  I listen to DBT probably more than any other band, I generally put my iPod on shuffle at work.  The luck of the draw for a band with 47 albums out is that they will come on rotation more often than most. I picked up Southern Rock Opera a few months ago when I was at the record store and noticed there was another one I didn't have.
 It's a double album, and somewhat of a concept album to boot. The themes deal mostly with the duality of a modern southern personality, and they also have a lot to do with Lynryd Skynyrd  and Neil Young's interpersonal hookum. It's a damned good ride, and educational too, with songs like The Three Great Alabama Icons coming off as a mix of Wikipedia page/great spoken word. This is the band at their strongest iteration too, with Jason Isbell filling the slot of third guitarist/songwriter/singer. There is one thing about this album that chills me though, and I can't quite put my finger on the why exactly... Zip City. 
 Patterson Hood is the primary songwriter for the Truckers' and his songs fill most every album, and I love the dude, I do. But there is something about Mike Cooley that really touches my soul. I have a huge literary crush on Mike Cooley. The way he says things, the words he chooses to express himself... Sometimes they don't sit right at first, then you let it settle and you realize it's perfect.
 I know most DBT fans give accolades to Women Without Whiskey, another Cooley song off this album. I think that song is brave as hell for what it address', and I'd be lying if I tried to say it might technically be a better crafted tune. Zip City fucking kills me though. It has replaced When the Pin Hits the Shell as the Cooley song I listen to 5 times a day. Everyday. Zip City.
 People make their musics in their bedrooms these days. Everything is digital... A true analog journeyman band like the Drive By Truckers makes me happy because it's what I like the most. They're the closest to The Band that we're ever going to get from here on out. Cooley reminds me of Danko, and besides "Granted" is such a big word for a country girl like you.

9. Pentagram, First Daze Here:

 I had to stop smoking weed because it breaks my brain. I get stuck in riffs. It might be fine for you, and I'm happy for you baby. I know myself pretty well, and I know how to traverse this territory. That just don't work for me if I have to come anywhere close to anything that could be construed as work for about 15 hours. That being said, I spent a lot of stoned hours wondering where a few bands came from that seemed to influence everyone in their genre after them. The first of these bands is Van Halen. The second is Black Sabbath.
 If we're being honest, there are about 50%  of us that were familiar with Pentagram, but never listened to them until Netflix put Last Days Here on streaming. I know I'm one. It blew me away seeing the early footage, so I had to suss it out.
 Sabbath in stride, or Sabbath in parallel. At least another link between Blue Cheer and where we ended up getting. But then there's 20 Buck Spin and a whole other slew of songs that ain't trying to ape Ozzy. My whole stoned thinking at the time was "Ahh man, my band just put out an album with a song about a blue light, and now it's gonna seem like we were ripping Pentagram off."
Us musicians and artists... We are a bunch of fucking pussies.

8. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City:

  I was so pissed off when I finally copped this record. I was so angry that I asked the people who recommended it to me, to please reimburse me. I wanted my 12 bucks back bad.
 My argument at the time was that it sounded like all of the boring Outkast songs on Stankonia that I stopped listening to them for in the first place.
 I am so glad I kept listening to this record. This record makes sense in a whole sense that hip hop albums these days especially, rarely do. There were the obvious cuts I liked from the start like Backseat Freestyle(which is not a freestyle) & the ubiquitous Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe... I hated the rest of the album, and I wanted to take friends to task for telling me I'd dig it.
 I remember the "Aha!" moment too. I was hungover as a frat room bedsheet soaked with piss on the balcony to dry. I had just got my cup of coffee and lit my only cigarette on the first rainy day of summer being over and M.A.A.D. City(feat. MC Eiht) came on shuffle in my earphones.
I had to look down at my iPod to see who this banging track was from. Then I hated myself for liking it a little... Damn, I'm a hip hop hipster after all.
"Seems like the whole city going against me... Every time I'm in the streets I hear YAQ YAQ YAQ!"

7. Roky Erickson & the Aliens, The Evil One:

 This album is not new to me. My old friends and I have traded third rate tape transfer copies of tracks from this record for years. If you ever wondered what paranoid schizophrenia would sound like if you plugged it straight into a Marshall stack, then this is it.
 Thankfully, Seattle based record label Light in the Attic has released all of Roky's material with the Aliens this year.
 It sounds great, and to hear it clearly for once, is a blessing.

6. Kanye West, Yeezus:

 Grand Guginol is a descriptor I almost always use for Kanye. It was the birth of the splatter film, a theater of the absurd that operated in Paris from 1860-1960. It was, for the adventure seeking of the times, a place to see their most horrible fantasies become flesh on the stage.
-From Mr. Wests' Brilliant 2011 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:
"Fuck SNL and they whole cast, you can tell 'em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass, or more specifically they can kiss my asshole. Oh, I'm an asshole? Ya'll niggas actors."

 You gotta give the boy one? Nope. You're not going to... I already knew that.
I knew that already because every single person that I know on any personal level has taken an aside
to ask me if I really like Yeezus as much as I claim to. I ain't even kidding.

Telling, or daring. Depending on your point of view, judging from the quoted line above, that Kanye chose to debut 2 songs off of Yeezus on SNL. Premiere stuff. You can youtube it, Ben Affleck was the host and he sounds like he's about to cry when he announces Black Skinhead. While that song isn't my favorite on the disc, it was a hell of an intro to the new album for me. Hell, even Kanye sounds like he's about to cry. His trademark swag a little saturated with insecurity.
 And if you can't see Kanye's insecurities stitched onto his designer sleeves, you are the one that is missing out on the joke here. When being a pariah is what pays the bills, you'd better be ready to kill.
The music game is full of motherfuckers who's name fell out of someones mouth, then completely off their minds.
Completely off the radar with a Kardashian to pay for.
  Truth is, I don't know what a Kardashian is. People come at me all the time telling me shit from Kanye's personal life like I'm guilty of the same for liking his records. I don't know, nor care.

Of actors and assholes... I wouldn't be stowing too many stones.

The record is brilliant.
I remember Nick from Dark Hip Falls and I calling each other as we picked it up on release day. I was mouth agape on the first play through. I couldn't believe he was upping his own ante that far. Yet I listened to him do it over and over again.
 How he twisted civil rights nomenclature into sex rhymes, and how he is happy to be the most hated motherfucker on the planet is fine with me. As long as it don't taint the music.
And it hasn't tainted his music, he took hip hop somewhere else. More akin to spoken word backed by synth tracks. And I find it funny how all his detractors turn right around and sound like him on their next release. The hip hop community might be a climate of braggadocio and hate, yet no one can admit that they have been bested by a pop motherfucker that wasn't even playing their game?
People get heated when he compares himself to Nas
People get heated when he compares himself to Michael Jackson
People get heated when he compares himself to God
people that get heated are really taking themselves way too seriously.
Don't you see the god damned pattern yet?


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Texttape, side A track 2: Don't Fear the Creeper

M. Crossley

Texttape side A, track 2:

Don't Fear the Creeper


My brain is broke. My brain be broken.

I wake up, the reverberations of last nights music still rattling around up in there and making an interesting melange in my head. I'm at a loss, call it a seasonal condition. I don't get out much

this time of year.

My Apartment, my room, let's call it that, 'cos that's really all I got. It smells like burnt riffs and cashed bowls. Quiet desperation and stale Coors. It's all mostly the fault of the Blue Oyster Cult.

--What the hell is this band? And I'm not the type of dude that needs some kind of linear definition

of the music I'm listening to in order to understand it, but most bands tend to wear their influences on the outside, making it easier to understand where exactly they're coming from... I get caught up in BOC

and get stuck in chord progressions for days on end. They don't end when I wake up and go to work, they stick with me. That in itself is a powerful thing, but I'm stuck more often than not in a band that doesn't make sense. I think I like that. Really dig it, in fact.

Are Blue Oyster Cult the "Best Band in the World"? No, hell no. Are they even the best ambassadors

of stoner guitar rock? No, they are probably not. And maybe I like them all the more because everyone

thinks that they are a joke. Much like I've always felt about Rod Stewart.

Well, it turns out, that BOC might actually be a joke. Or at least, one of the first "ironic bands", and don't start here with the Monks, and Paul Revere and the Raiders, and all of that Monkees bullshit. I know damned well they weren't the first ironic band, but maybe they pulled it off so well no one even suspected the joke.

I was flipping through some stuff at a bookstore the other day, one was about the best heavy metal bands of all time. It mentioned that Blue Oyster Cult's in joke on the industry was so hilarious to Rob Reiner, that Spinal Tap was actually inspired by them.

Studio Apartments on Flame with Rock N' Roll:

At a French Letters rehearsal one evening, we were joking about how funny it is that some bands find the need to put the words "Rock N' Roll" in their rock n' roll songs. As if the listener couldn't discern or

file that particular puzzle piece themselves, what with all the wailing solo's and awesome riffage said

songs usually entail. When I got home, I sparked some Northwest Blend and started Youtubing some

songs with "Rock N' Roll" in the title. BOC came up, but here's where I took a turn...

I saw all of these awesome song titles, so in I went. This is important, recipe time,

Northwest Blend:

6-7 bags leftover from various strains that were never finished because you copped new.

1 zest lemon peel

1 zest orange peel

mix as if small salad, seal and leave overnight.

Remove zest and enjoy.

Play: Then Came the Last Days of May from BOC's self titled first album.

(You can substitute Workshop of the Telescopes here if need be, also Before the Kiss, a Redcap.)

So now I'm stuck, and my brain is broke.

Stuck in riff transmission. It might just be the winter, but I'm just one step from replacing all of the light in my room with black lights. So you think you've got "Marshall will boy, and Fender control?"

I sure the fuck don't, but I wanted to delve deeper, so I did. It turns out, what can set an entire city aflame with rock n' roll? ... 3000 guitars, playing at once. You may scoff. But they may be on to something here.(BTW, yes, I can question mark into ellipse if I want to. I'm grown.)

Seriously, imagine it. Three Thousand Guitars Fill the Sky. 10% of those are going to blow fuses, maybe start a fire, if a club or practice space has a leaking gas main nearby... Boom. City on flame. Occupy that you passive bitchez.

So now I'm stuck, and my brain be broken.

My room smells like burnt riffage and cashed bowls. A hint of stale Coors, beneath that, the hue of Cordite. I've been listening to BOC for 2 months straight. Long enough to know that they ain't the best band ever, but I really dig them for what they are. And that's what this is all about. They toured with Patti Smith Group and the Stooges. Can you imagine that show? I know I do everynightly.

Blue Oyster Cult, Self titled... I found a copy of Curse of the Hidden Mirror for cheap, it kicks ass, especially Dance on Stilts, looked at the liner notes, 2001. BOC formed in 1971! Thirty years, do you know what that even means? If you ain't in a band... Then no, you probably don't.

I just got Tyranny And Mutation, their second album, and it's my favorite so far. But I gotta start at the apogee.

I'm gonna sell it all, burn it all down on a drunken dare and trade it for a Chevy Custom van with an airbrushed Viking on the side. He'll have a spliff sword and be in grievous battle with a barbarian who wields a Fender SG as a battle axe, the wounds they strike into each other will bleed pure riffage as well as blood. I'll probably be driving through your town blasting BOC from some house speakers in the back, so come kick it with me... It's lonely in here and it smells like burnt guitar strings and cashed bowls.

Friday, March 16, 2012

You're Not Punk, I'm Telling Everyone....


24 Hour Revenge Therapy


Text tape, side A, track 1

You're Not Punk, And I'm Telling Everyone


What year was it? 1993? That sounds right, but is it?

To the best of my recollection, that can be stated as a fact. I was on the run from the Marine Corps. I was enlisted, I was due for basic soon, I got rabbit & just split. It's a long story and I ended up several places before I found myself in San Francisco for the first time. 18 years old, on the lam, and having the

time of my life.

There was so much new music in San Francisco in 1993. MDC was a band from the 80's I grew up listening to, but now I knew them, shot speed with drummer Al & crashed in his practice space.

There was Blatz, Filth, Dead and Gone, Tribe 8. I didn't even know what a Berkeley was. All I knew was that East Bay hated West Bay and vice versa. The first time I ever went over to East Bay was to see Citizen Fish at a tiny club in Oakland called Your Place Too. An unknown band on their fourth show was opening that night, they were called Rancid. They still are. Stevie and Maus and I hopped the BART, I had never been on a subway before. When we got out on the Oakland side, a transit cop yelled at us to stop when we jumped the turnstile, I actually did stop... Stevie and Maus looking back at me, screaming "Run, you dumb ass!" So that's what I did. I was used to running at that point. Is it safe to say, factual I mean, that it's the only thing I had been doing for years at that point? Running? Yes, I believe so. But facts are always fuzzy, I prefer to rely on feelings.

I was West Bay proud. SFJP. San Francisco Junky Punx (We shoot up to shoot you down!) I lived in squalor and young addict twilight. I lived in a bubble it's fair to say.

So when I made my way home to Cincinnati nine months later, and all of my punk friends were into this

Berkeley(East Bay) label called Lookout! I had no idea what they were talking about. Not only that, but I hated the artistic direction of the label and the crappy, whiny, retreads of 60's doo-wop the label was churning out at an alarming pastel colored rate. I was into the real heavy squatter punk stuff at the time: Rorschach, Anti-schism, Man is the Bastard, Battalion of Saints etc.

-So when my homey, my cat, my ace boon Ron Jones showed up with some disturbing Lookout! Records logo tattooed on the back of his neck, the word Popsicko! in rainbow colors, which was and remains to this day one of the gayest tattoos I have ever seen.... And my boy starts playing these tapes while we're all sitting around drinking 40's. It's all that doo-wop, pop crap... it goes

"Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby... I love you." Over and over again, I couldn't stand it.

Where were we at? Lannegans? Dan Sheas? I don't know why I put them there. It might just be association. Maybe it was Darci's house on Daniel's. Do I have to state for the record? Do you swear that I have to swear on bibles? Why does my past always play out like a courtroom drama in my head?

Fuck it.

Ain't that important... Feelings over facts.

Feelings overdose. Which was what I was in fact, feeling. I kept trying to put in this comp tape I had of Crust Punk my boy Cretin had made me. Ron pulled out one more cassette. "Just listen to this for a minute, it just came out, and it's not on Lookout! but they're from East Bay." He fucked with the buttons on the boom box, ffw'd to a key pause(remember with tapes, how you'd keep play pressed and hold down ff, listening for the pauses between songs?)

Well... This sounded a bit better, I had to admit. What is it?

"Jawbreaker, this song is called Boxcar."

Dude, the singer sounds like Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs, mixed with Rod Stewart, I kinda dig it. Oh, He's really into Kerouac, that was obvious before he name dropped him.

And like that... I was hooked.

I do, in fact, know the complete origin history of what is now called "emo". Anything after 1999, though ya'll are on your own. I also, do not consider Jawbreaker an "emo" band. I consider them post-punk the same way I consider the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, or the Only Ones post-punk. And those are all bands that could be, using the same criteria, construed as "emo". But this was years before such a tag was ever even considered a dirty word.

In a very paraphrased history, this is it. (Why do I have no problem stating other peoples POV as facts, yet holding my own to such scrutiny? Who cares? Idiosyncrasies baby!):

I deem every musical genres birth as 'punk', but we all know what I mean here.

When the punk wave of 1977 finally settled all throughout Americas' boundaries around 1979,

it was a much more meat-headed and hooliganistic scene than most would lead you to believe. It was violent. You had to fight to look like that. It had way more in common with the modern Skinhead than the modern effete Rocker. American punk was Hard-Core Punk, it was brutal, loud, and more than ready to smack you in the face with a cane than most music writers feel comfortable admitting these days(that's why most modern music writers are pussies, and you can blame them for Weezer. But not me baby, I'll kick your ass.)

Some punk musicians in D.C. got tired of the dogmatic coda of "Bro's, beers, and beat downs" and started writing ostensibly punk songs in a different manner: Rites of Spring, Gray Matter, Government Issue, Dag Nasty... This music spoke to a lot of the people in the scene, and spread for quite awhile until 7 Seconds infamous "Revolution Summer" of 1989, wherein, Kevin Seconds' tried to create a schism between hardcore punks, and just plain punks. Very simplistic view I know, but it's the truth from where I'm sitting. Besides, I want to get on to the album.

24 Hour Revenge Therapy: Jawbreaker.

Tupelo Communion Conspiracy Theory Records/ 1994/ Producer: Steve Albini

Until I typed the words "Steve Albini" out, I had no idea he produced this album. I've been an ardent Big Black fan since age 15, and have known this LP by heart since 1995. It's telling then, what a producer can bring to a record. The leap in change from Bivouac and Unfun to 24 Hour. There's more editing on this album than anywhere else in their catalog. It could be the influence of Albini, or it could be Blake Schwarzenbachs' writing style at that moment. I'm not sure that I care all that much what "it" is, I just find myself happy that "it " is.

I don't know that I've ever read the liner notes until now. It lists them as a San Francisco band. That ain't so strange, living in the current musical climate I find myself in. The competition was fierce between the bays back then, much like Seattle's current music scene. If there were more clubs on the Berkeley side, and they got their first following there, it's easy to understand. SF was all junked out crust

punk at the time, East Bay would have been more receptive to the other melodic bands from West Bay.

Boat Dreams From the Hill: Solid opener, "Sometimes rainy days drop boyish wonder."

Indictment: My current, favorite song on this disc. "I'd like to know what's so wrong, with a stupid happy song? It says many things in it's nothingness. It gives me space to think I guess. To think less, and less, and less... Moving units and tracking charts, will they ever learn? It isn't who you know it's who you burn."

Boxcar: The Genesis song, the track that made me love 'em. "I was passing out while you were passing out the rules.... one, two, three, four, who's punk? What's the score?"

Prosecuting DA: "Do you really wish to break the album up like that?"

Defendant: " No, Not at all what I had intended really... I'm just making this up as I go along dude."

Prosecuting DA: "I am not a dude, I am you."

Defendant: " Oh yeah, it's just... Condition Oakland."

Prosecuting DA: " A song on the album?"

Defendant: " If I may, I mean.. if it's alright with the court I'd really like to extrapolate on that fucking song man."

Prosecuting DA: " Go ahead Mr. Crossley, just watch your language, and I ask you to remember you are in a court of law. Common law, you've been with this album for more than seven years now? Living with it?"

Defendant: " We've had our relations. Yes, the album has lived with me for some 19 years or so. I have problems with remembering correctly sometimes. But my testimony is the truth as far as I know it.

And I do honestly believe that song to be the most emotionally accurate depiction of solitude that I knew when I first heard it. The man{Blake Shwarzenbach}was on to something. Listen to the bass line as it staccatos' it's way on in. The guitar is almost indiscernible fuzz, but that's true emotion on the track. Fuck blood, anybody can bleed! But who can truly emote without sounding like a complete pussy? I've heard Jets to Brazil man, that shit sucks after Orange Rhyming Dictionary!"

Prosecuting DA: " Mr. Crossley, we allowed your testimony, but advised you on your language already, please remember that you can be held in contempt."

Defendant: " Truth be told... I can't always remember who else was there, or where exactly we were, and I'd like to remind the court that the statute of limitations is expired in most of these scenarios... I just know that I was there... And it meant a lot to me. My whole life, my relationships with women when I was younger. This album has always been my go-to. I mean, after a break up or during a relationship even. it's an album as alienated from everything else as I am. I would not be who I am today, had I not discovered this album at the time that I did. If it pleases the court, I'd really like to go out for a cigarette now, and I'd really dig it if that jury of yours fucked right the Hell off."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Side A:

 I just want a space to talk about the music I love. I don't want to critique.
I'm not even sure I could handle the implications of what it means to be a critic. I'm a hater, natural born. So I tend to come off when talking to people like some one that naysays anything that didn't come out before 1980(at least, I think I come off sounding that way). Here, I'm going to talk about some albums and music that I love. Make a little textual mixtape for your eyeholes.
Give myself a little training at the same time... Being a writer. Being a musician. Writing about music.
A lot of people are misquoting someone as saying "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."
Well then, Lester Bangs is the greatest dancer I've ever seen. Check out my building plans.