Sunday, January 10, 2021

Rush - "The Enemy Within" from the album Grace Under Pressure

 Sometimes you'll hear a song you like alright in a new way. I heard Rush's "The Enemy Within" this morning and it has raised itself in my appreciation evidently.

I even sent a text saying as much to the old friend who got me into Rush in the first place, back when we were fifteen, though I have to admit he was mystified by it, and wasn't quite sure why I associate him with the Canadian power trio, it being 40 long years for him since he was a Rush superfan, while for me, it's the same old memory of him I've always had.

But anyway, back to the song: the somewhat metronomic Eurodisco pulse this time seemed perfect, and so too did the whole damnable late '80's synthetic approach, an admiration for which was a new thing for me, definitely.

I was never a huge fan of "Witch Hunt," so maybe this now makes "The Enemy Within" my favorite movement of "Fear," what about that?

File under: From suites with parts released in backwards order

Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Album of the Year for 2020, and Some Others, Also Good

Fuzz - III

Fuzz III


The weird thing about 2019 for me was that I didn't even hear my favorite album of the year until the end of December. That was poor timing on Duster's part as far as I'm concerned, because they didn't release their swirly, spacy, spacious, ethereal, unexpected third album until the 13th of the 12th*.

The weird thing about 2020, of course, had nothing to do with my favorite album. Good years to compare 2020 to occurred well before my birth, or even the dawn of rock 'n' roll, years like 1347, or 1666, or 1918.. Nevertheless, it is a true fact that I didn't hear my favorite album of 2020 until December, either. And this time, it wasn't because the band didn't release it 'til then. Fuzz III actually came out in October, and somehow, despite my having spent the last four years in wild enthusiasms for their first two, I missed the new one for six or seven weeks.

I was actually looking for an Oh Sees record when I went to In the Red Records' website earlier this month, but that was damned near forgotten when I saw that the mighty Fuzz had reconvened, and released the results of their sessions.

And the album is as great as I'd expected. It maybe doesn't totally remind me of early Blue Cheer the way the first one especially did, but it's still very heavy, especially compared to the thin competition in the field of non-metal heavy music,, and the first track "Returning" is probably their best song ever.

Drummer Ty Segall is a force like Homme or Reznor, a musician whose next project always draws interest, so I can't really figure out why people and publications around the web aren't as excited about this third joint as I am.

Other albums I purchased in 2020 include:

Enslaved - Utgard
Louder called it # 42 on their list of best 50 for the year. With their mix of Scandinavian Black metal, traditional Germanic sounds, and proggy flourishes, there remains no-one in the world who sound quite like this band. I buy everything they put out, and always enjoy.

Maserati - Enter the Mirror
Didn't like this one as much as I might have hoped, "Post-rock with Eurodisco accents" being a microgenre that I maybe could have done without.

Thurston Moore - By the Fire
In which the former noise orchestra cog and no-wave mastermind plays at being guitar hero, to sometimes very nice effect.

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts
Of course I didn't buy this one, or the one just above, as Mssrs. Reznor and Ross made them available for free, so thanks for that, guys. Volumes five and six didn't have the textural complexity of the first four, but the fact that they were specifically and deliberately recorded and released in response to the Coronavirus will give them resonance moving forward, that even some of the better albums of the year might lose, I think.

Osees - Protean Threat
I'd guess that John Dwyer, as brilliant as he is, will never make a coherent album. You can turn that into a positive--no genre can contain him!--but their allovertheplacedness has at least thus far been an issue in my appreciation of his many and varied projects.

Pallbearer - Forgotten Days
A hideous cover belies the music inside, which in its own prog-doom way reaches the heights of their first record.

Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
Slant's 43rd best record of the year, and Paste's 32nd, but I have no idea why no-one else mentioned this. This band, noisy and literary and spacious, is always great, and if pushed, I'd probably say this was my second-favorite of the go-round concluding today.

Solstafir - Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love
It might seem incongruous to foremostly say ""beautiful packaging," but man, beautiful packaging.

Rick Wakeman - The Red Planet
While including it in their top 50, Louder noted how it "harks back to prog's halcyon days." Sounds good to me.

Neil Young - Homegrown
Significant. With moments of true weirdness. And very very good.


*That's a Wire reference, by the slimmest of margins.(return)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Genre Bands


1. Eagles of Death Metal
2. Cap'n Jazz
3. Mogul Thrash
4. Metal Church
5. Be Bop Deluxe

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Adapted from my comment at Locus

Lavie Tidhar - By Force Alone
Any poor soul who's followed me here knows that I'm a big fan of Lavie Tidhar, and By Force Alone, his newest novel, his postmodern interpretation of Arthurian fiction, is as readable as everything he publishes. But while he intends the book to be a descent into the muck, it descended a bit too far for me with Galahad’s initiation.

Of all the cultural references Tidhar makes, the truest one to the spirit of the novel is the one to Goodfellas–and while I can’t help but appreciate Scorsese’s ability to spin a yarn, when I watch that film I always feel a little soiled. And so it goes with this book.

With novels, you should even like the antiheroes, you know? But other than Merlin, some of the time, there’s no-one remotely sympathetic here at all.

I'm no shrinking violet, but with all the mob references, and with all the fucking profanity, with all the farts and the steaming piles of horse shit, with the complete lack of principle or virtue, never mind chivalry, you're left wondering how this could possibly be an edifying addition to the Matter of Britain, for anyone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Andy Summers & Robert Fripp - I Advance Masked

This album is forever associated with a golden day in my mind. Teenagers, Mark and I, again in his shitshaker Vega, smoking a doobie, then driving through Tropical Park with the windows down, my cassette copy of I Advance cranked loud.

Beautiful sunny day, and the guitars preternaturally bright and sunny too, echoplex dripping and Fripp's solos sharp and incisive like the sunbeams you felt viscerally on your forearms.

Mark was not a prog dude--he was more Skynyrd, and if he was feeling crazy he'd listen to some REM--but the flak I expected never came, and he listened to the eccentric guitar music like I did, too chill or too stoned to care about genre, letting the gleaming guitar wash over him as it washed over me, bright, stoned and photonic at 15 mph in his orange rustbucket Chevy.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police

dir. Andy Grieve, Lauren Lazin

Caught this film over the last couple nights--free with Prime you know--and it's absolutely positively pretty good. It is indeed the story of The Police, but more primarily it is Andy Summers' particular version of it. Summers actually narrates, going back and forth between his own musical history and the then-somewhat recent Police reunion tour of 2007 and an opening of one of /his photographic exhibitions.

He spends some of that narration time with how he was in The New Animals with Eric Burdon, and he spends some time on Dantalian's Chariot (Flower Power Central!, as Pete Frame so pithily observed), so color me and dozens of fellow prog-rockers disappointed that Andy in this film didn't bother to mention being in The Soft Machine or making two albums with Robert Fucking Fripp.

But hey! There's lots of time spent on Summers' alternate profession of road photographer, and there's plenty of smack talk about Sting, which, let's face it, depends on how you feel about Gordon Sumner. The film sometimes descends into millionaire rock star self-pity, which definitely fuck you, you lucky and talented fuck, but overall, Summers seems candid, pulling no punches regarding the drugs he took or the groupies he slept with or the swollen ego he developed along with his bandmates at the apex of The Police's popularity. Which, good. Summers seems likeable, but his movie doesn't seem constructed to try and get you to like him.

Like I was saying, I could have stood more attention paid to the prog part of Mr. Summers' career and musical mind, and a little more time given to the absolutely distinctive guitar tone he developed with The Police--echoplex FTW-- but this was a good movie, one I willingly came back to after being interrupted in its viewing.