Friday, December 23, 2011

burMONTER - self titled demo '92

(note picture is from early 2000's when we got together for 2 songs during a Plumerai set @ King's Barcade in Raleigh, NC)

burMONTER was my first real band ever.  I had just returned to the States and was intent on starting a band that was representative of the type of music I actually listened to at the time.   Whilst in Deutschland I was playing guitar in what surmounted to a HC/Punk/Metal cover band.  We did a lot of Misfits covers and broke it up with songs by Spermbirds, Slayer, & DRI.  But what I was listening to at the time was the Cure, Lush, Violent Femmes, The Cramps, and bands of that ilk.   So immediately after arriving in the US I began searching for bandmembers and would eventually recruit a drummer that lived a neighborhood over and a vocalist that I met by chance.  We went to the same HS but didn't have classes together...just happened to see each other in the halls on occassion.  Like my current band, my brother took over the rhythm guitar and eventually moved to bass when the bassist we found bailed but for the sake of this recording we captured it as a five piece.  That in a nutshell was how burMONTER began.   Since we were in a podunk North Carolina town, there weren't that many options in regards to playing live shows, so we wound up spending more time writing and making home recordings.

My last Christmas in Germany, my parents had bought me a Tascam Porta-Studio 4-Track.  So it was this device that we recorded our first demo tape, the self-titled burMONTER.  It was the first go at writing songs and recording them as a band I had experienced up to this point.  The year was 1991 or 92.

As mentioned the influences on these songs were mostly The Cure, Mission UK, Violent Femmes, Lush, the Sundays, the Smiths (for vocals) and an assortment of others that the rhythm section brought in and I would probably be unable to recognize without it being pointed out to me.

"Last Breath" was the opener and was proceeded by a brief vocal swell ala "Hero Takes A Fall" by the Bangles before the muted guitar influenced heavily by 17 Seconds era guitar intro kicks in.  Just a heavy kick and the muted guitar.  It then pops with a straight forward rock beat and rhythm with arpegiated guitars for the verses and the choruses burst in with a typcial C-D-G with a Robert Smithy strum pattern.  This was the first original song I had ever written and aside from using such a common chord progression during the chorus I don't think it was such a bad effort.  When we toured Germany a few years later, this song made it's way back into the set and held up just as well if not better than some of the newer material.  What I notice most about these recordings are the bass lines.  Totally not typical of my post-punk/Simon Gallup influences.  Charli Ramos was older and more influenced by music from the 70's and the bass represents that.   Also, this was back when I did a lot of lyric writing which probably made it more difficult for our vocalist to come up with vocal melodies....or did it?  The song doesn't really go anywhere to me,  just some parts that sound good together, smushed together.  The final vocal line today sounds weird to me "i have breathed my last breath" that even proper english?

"The First Rays of the Waking Hour" was probably more solid songwriting.  It had a long instrumental intro definitely influenced by The Cure's "Push"  with single notes played high with a bunch of open strings to fill out the sound.  The drums do that double time beat that's popular in Pop music that I enjoy and once the verses start you can hear a bit more of my Bangles/Cure influence in the guitar.  The song is light and very 90s.  I sort of wish we had keyboards back then.

The other highlight of this demo is the song "Dalia."  More Cure influence with the tribal drums and the guitar solo in the end and also the darker lyrics and use of some Robert Smithisms in both the guitar and the lyrics.  This was a song that never left our set once we started playing live.  Of note are Charli's backup vocals during the chorus.  The really boominess of the drums I think are great and our drummer at the time went on to become a phenomenal player far surpassing the skill level of anybody else involved in this project.

The other songs I don't even want to mention,  full of youthful idiocy and lameness.  But what I do notice is that the sound quality on this demo is much fuller and although very flawed, much better than the demo's that came after it, Hybrid I & II.  I'm not sure what we did right here and wrong on the other recordings.  We basically recorded the drums with three random mic's that we happened to possess and then bounced it down to one track.  Then added the overdubs and did the same until we were done.  Recording all onto cassette tape mind you.  While not something I would say I'm proud of, this recording for the time and method and the place that we were at the time, I think came out okay.   I'm pretty sure the bass went direct and the guitar was a horrible little crate practice amp with built-in chorus and a Charvel Model 4 guitar, so to begin with, we had so much working against us.   As I learned later, what saved this record probably was getting a fairly decent drum sound (for what we were working with).

To hear for yourself:  where you can hear the various era demos burMONTER did.

for more info you can also visit

Hefner – Breaking God’s Heart

I first got this record back in 1998 because I was doing QRD & got promos from Beggar’s Banquet.  In one envelope were my two favorite records of that year, Hefner’s Breaking God’s Heart & Six By Seven’s The Closer You Get.  From the outside there was no reason I would like the Hefner disc as they had none of the elements I was really into at the time.  No shoegazing guitar.  No tribal drums.  No ambient drones. No baritone vocals.  More or less straight indie rock with a little bit of a Buddy Holly edge. But somehow I gave it a chance & it was an instant favorite.

I’m not sure how long it’s been since I heard this record or how it ever got out of my rotation.  It is pretty incredible & I’ve always had a fondness for it.  It’s funny because even now I don’t find any of the many bands that “sound” like Hefner (Built to Spill, Weezer, etc.) interesting at all & there’s something special about Hefner.  I’m not sure that what I really like about Hefner actually has anything to do with the music as much as Darren Hayman’s ability as a storyteller with his lyrics.  All of the songs on here are narcissistic passive-aggressive tales of semi-unrequited love & I don’t know if I’d like them as much if they weren’t so easy for me to relate to them, but luckily enough I can.  I think this might be one of the twenty records I will always want to own & I’d be willing to put it up against Neil Young’s Harvest or Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska & I’m not sure I can think of any band with a stronger debut album.  It may be better to me now than it was all those years ago.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Cure - Faith

Here I go with another review of something from the past updated in the present.  This time it's The Cure's album Faith.

As many of you may have already known, recently the Cure had played a series of shows called Reflection.  The basic premise was that they were playing back to back and in sequence, their first three albums.  Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds & Faith.  Unlike their Trilogy concerts where there was a general mood being set by the choice of albums, the Reflection shows were basically a musical journey documenting their transformation from post-punk to goth (or whatever you consider the darker majestic side of this band).   It's the final album in the set that I want to concentrate on, because it's the first time the Cure emerges with the sound that they've become known for.  It's the album where the combination of big keyboards, tribal drum patterns, the melodic yet driving bass lines and the melodies being played on the bassVI all come into play to create a particular mood that the Cure would employ again and again (and again and again and again).

Like I said, it was seeing them play the album in it's entirety live at New York City's Bowery Ballroom on the final night of the tour and presumably the last time they do these Reflection shows, that it all came to me.  Possibly as a result of hearing the three different albums in sequence, I was able to see the metamorphisis of the group.  It wasn't as apparent to me before I think because of the production of Faith being what it is.  While I always felt Faith/Pornography/Disintegration seem more of a Trilogy than Pornography/Disintegration/Bloodflowers, hearing the Faith album live and loud and surrounded by both the atmosphere and the moodiness of songs such as The Holy Hour, All Cats Are Grey and the highlights of both the recorded album and the live show The Drowning Man & Faith really made apparent that this was to be the album that set the tone and informed all the albums to follow until Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.

A big deal was made of these shows because Lol Tolhurst would join the band for the first time since his acrimonious departure around 88-89.  Although, his inclusion seemed like a gimmick.  He was relegated to playing extra keys and percussion on just the Faith portion of the show and since they were doing a reflection on their past, it would've been great to have him behind the drum kit again since that was what he played on those albums.  I'm sure he would've struggled but it would've been great to see.  Especially since their latest drummer Jason Cooper plays the songs more generically and with a lack of style that both Lol & Boris possessed.  He didn't murder the songs like he does with 'Push' from Head on the Door  but if they were going to make a big deal about Lol being on stage,  it would've been great to have him up there for more than the Faith set and doing more than adding percussion that was never in the original songs or playing minimal keyboards.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confessor - Condemned

When I was in high school I was into metal. There was a local metal band who were awesome & kings of the scene that got signed to Earache. They were Confessor. The only local heavy band that outshined them was Corrosion of Conformity. My memory is that they had an album come out & then broke up after a European tour, but I don’t know if that story was ever true or not.
My metal roots started to fade towards the end of high school, so I hadn’t listened to this album in almost twenty years. Oddly this band is still popular enough locally that you sometimes hear some of their songs between bands at local shows. Last night I had a dream where I went to see them play a reunion show, so I decided to pop the disc in. I can’t believe I used to listen to this on a regular basis. This is a really dark record lyrically, but not in a way where I can relate to it (as say The Cure or Joy Division) & not quite in a Dungeons & Dragons cartoony way that a lot of metal does that can be fun. I could hardly make it through the album. Also there is some kind of weird phaser stereo expander put on the whole mix (you hear it on a few early 90s albums) that makes me feel semi-nauseated & uneasy & that probably adds to the feeling of dread this record holds. Oh, & here’s the weirdest thing about this band for me, I went to their current website & they sell soap as merch.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heavy Metal - The Motion Picture

So I first saw this when I was seven years old.  It was on HBO during the annual family reunion & beach vacation at Myrtle Beach.  All of the cousins & my brothers were trying to figure out a way to get to watch it & something happened where one aunt & uncle were at another aunt & uncle’s hotel room & everyone gathered there to watch, but I was five years younger than the youngest of that group of cousins so I ended up for some reason watching it while my parents were in the next room drinking their liquor drinks.  Anyway, the animation totally blew me away (the best looking cartoon I had probably seen up to that point was probably Starblazers as we didn’t have cable at home & the animation explosion of 1983 hadn’t yet happened) & as a Star Wars fan the sci-fi had an immediate appeal.  The nudity & language & violence didn’t strike me as odd or unusual or exciting, just factual.  The next time I saw it I was 16 & amongst the guys in my age range the movie had reached this cult status as a weird childhood memory (it seemed like every one had managed to see it as a kid that summer of 1982) & it was on one night at 3am & my buddy Jason recorded it & I got to see it again.  I was pretty shocked by the volume of nudity that time out & even more shocked by the volume of John Candy doing the voices.  So that takes me up until pretty recently with the movie.

So yesterday I saw Heavy Metal 2000 & thought it was pretty bad.  So I decided to watch the original.  The animation quality I think is still pretty awesome, I’d be willing to put it up against Akira or Avatar or whatever - while not the most computer clean cutting edge it has a style of its own that really works.  The nudity in it for me is weird because the boobs in it look like water balloons about to explode more than actual breasts.  But the short stories of it work really well.  15 minute chunks of self-contained loosely connected stories with little characterization is pretty ideal for sci-fi to me.  All of the segments are great with sections that are film noir, sword & sorcery, Twilight Zone-y, post apocalyptic, & just plain fun.  Of course one of the movies claims to fame is its soundtrack & I think the way the music is put in here is pretty awesome.  So many times I see movies where the music volume is blaring & it all just sits right in this & cuts in & out well.  I mean, clearly this movie is mainly made for pubescent boys into sci-fi, but I stand by it as a good movie & am shocked by how well it stands for being 30 years old & part of my childhood.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Effects Pedals (guitar)

Living in a city where you don’t really have the opportunity to be super loud and not a complete asshole at the same time doesn’t leave you many choices in regards to experimenting with guitar amps and effects.  You wind up playing guitar unplugged or an acoustic or you pay your scarcely earned dollars for a rehearsal space and even that has it’s issues. You’ll find yourself nestled between The Bro-Metal bands and the Teen Angst Punk Rock played by 38 year olds and their bass and kick will boom and echo through your half assedly sound proofed room.

However, once in a blue moon you wind up at the rehearsal spot alone because the rest of the band bailed on practice and this gives you an opportunity to crank the amp and play whatever the hell you want to.   For me that was an opportunity to once again pull the effects out without having to worry if anybody but myself can keep time with it or hear the nuances I do.   I used to play with effects a lot and then I think as a result of writing more songs at home, the effects started dropping off one by one.  Instead of a whole board turned on at once, I now just use one or less at  a time.  I don’t know if it’s old age or that all the bands that knew how to use the effects effectively are all 10years defunct and so I’m uninspired by those types of sounds.  Regardless, things just weren’t the same.  The excitement of discovering a new combination of sound or rhythm was lost on me and the one piece that I did like with the tremolo/delay/wah combo I tend to use often, actually sounded better with just a little overdrive and reverb.  

Did I grow out of It or has my writing just developed into something different that no longer benefits from heavy usage of boss pedals.  I’m more into thinking about what will accentuate the dry guitar part as opposed to what will send it to the freaking moon.  It makes sense since most songwriters tend to become more Country or Bluesy as time goes on, maybe I'm due for this transition.

Monday, June 6, 2011


So I caught Red Dawn over the weekend.  I’m not particularly sure how I felt about this movie when I saw it many years ago but i recall enjoying it even if it wasn't amongst my favourites or even particularly interesting.  Watching it today however, I was able to catch on to the more propaganda elements (which I’ll attach below from an article by some dude that wrote a book on pentagon involvement in Hollywood) or realistic parts of the flick; Stuff like rounding up the citizens known to have firearms, which makes perfect sense now but at the time i orginally saw this, didn't even register.  While watching,  I wondered how many people watch this movie now and are able to separate the US invasions and subsequent insurgencies or if they still just think it’s a bunch of anti-westerners looking to lop off an infidel’s head.   I guess we’ll find out when the remake hits theaters.  

Plot-wise it’s classic evil Russian of the 80’s and their south of the border allies, invade America fantasy.  Red Dawn concentrates on this small Colorado town and the high school insurgent group “Wolverines” that take them on.  The movie makes use of a lot of stereotypes, re-education camps, slaughter of civilians as retaliation, the sovietfication of the po-dunk town, the KGB prescence.   What I missed when I saw this in the 80’s was the larger scope of this war.  I always felt it was silly that the Russians would invade some high school in the middle of nowhere but I guess watching it alone in my living room allowed me to actually pay attention when the downed Fighter pilot gave them the run down on the nuclear attacks and the wider scope of the invasion that made it seem more plausible.    My main issue with the movie today is how they sort of cut it like a teen movie.  Down to the montage of their successes as they go from kids in the mountain with rifles, to an actual fighting forces with heavy weaponry and fighting strategies….each success ending with a shot of their name “Wolverines” spray painted on a wall or damaged tank.  Pretty much every major detail besides the skirmishes exist in a vacuum.  They just sort of come up when it’s convenient as opposed to being alluded to, much less shown in the flick.  They could have done much more, especially in regards to the traitor amongst them.  Another thing I noticed was the 80’s style score, it’s a bit creepier than the more orchestral scores of today and not overbearing like action flicks of today, i do admit they made a lot of obnoxious sound choices though.

Ok now on to the special report: "How the 80's Programmed Us for War" by David Siorta 
White House strategists and Pentagon propagandists use information and imagery as strategic weapons, and they are well aware that the most valuable of those weapons is cheery childhood nostalgia. They also know that in a country where almost half the population was born after 1979, some of the most compelling of those youthful memories come from the schlock that was originally stockpiled in the 1980s basement.
And a lot of it plays into the ideological agenda of the Pentagon. "Young men of recruiting age cited movies and television as their primary source of their impressions about the military, so [movies and television] are very important [to the Pentagon]," an army spokeswoman told PBS, citing the Defense Department's extensive surveys of youth attitudes. "It's an opportunity for [kids] to see what the possibilities are and to see what being a soldier would be like."
"Red Dawn" is a classic invasion flick, but with a deliberate twist for recruitment-age teens. It tells the story of youngsters from the fictional town of Calumet, Colorado, who call themselves the Wolverines and who go rogue by mounting a preposterous guerrilla resistance against a massive Soviet assault on the American homeland. To further sex up the adolescent appeal, "Red Dawn" cast '80s teen heartthrobs such as Thompson, Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and, yes, Charlie Sheen, in the lead roles.
The film starts out with the bedrock provisos of militarist paranoia, including key pillars of eighties Vietnam-related revision:
-- Anti-gun-control extremism: One of the film's first scenes shows a Soviet thug pulling a gun from an American corpse as the camera pans across a pickup truck bearing an NRA bumper sticker that reads, "They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers." Later, the Soviets are able to hunt down American resisters through the secret master list of gun owners that the U.S. government allegedly keeps (one of the longtime conspiracy theories among gun enthusiasts).
-- Retaliation/revenge on countries that defeat the United States: One of the kids' fathers is shown in a concentration-camp cage, yelling to his son to "Avenge me!" by killing as many enemies as possible. His scream could be the name of every back-to-Vietnam flick from the 1980s.
-- Backstabbing politicians: The film shows Calumet's mayor as a cowardly and conniving Soviet collaborator who does nothing while his constituents are rounded up and murdered. Additionally, the mayor's son (also student body president at Calumet High School) presses the Wolverines to surrender and later betrays them. Taken together, "Red Dawn" argues that politicians are all weak-kneed, corrupt, and traitorous.
-- United States as embattled underdog: In the same way adult politics, media, and entertainment in the eighties tried to recast the U.S. military as a yellow-ribbon-worthy under- dog helping supposed "freedom fighters" in Latin America, rescuing POWs from Vietcong, and liberating Kuwait from the supposed Iraq behemoth, "Red Dawn's" Wolverines are positioned as outgunned insurgents scratching their way to victory against the Russian colossus. "The message of 'Red Dawn,'" its director, Milius, said, "is to liberate the oppressed" -- the "oppressed" somehow being America, the most militarily dominant nation in human history.
Soon after fleeing to the woods for some good old-fashioned Unabomber-like survivalism (including drinking deer blood as a male-bonding exercise), the Wolverines come upon a fallen U.S. pilot who articulates a few more paranoias of eighties militarism:
-- Stealth terrorists are already among us: "The first wave of the (Soviet) attack came in disguise as commercial charter flights," says the pilot in an eerily prescient vision of a 9/11- like onslaught.
-- The need for a militarized southern border: "Infiltrators came up illegal from Mexico, Cubans mostly," he continues.
-- Weak-kneed western allies justify the United States spending more on the military than all other nations combined: When the kids ask if Europe is going to help stop the Soviet invasion, the pilot says that Europe is "sittin' this one out -- all except England, and they won't last very long."
Recall that four years before this film was released, Ronald Reagan had given voice to many of these theories, saying "the Soviets and their friends are advancing" and chastising the Carter administration for "failing to see any threatening pattern." It was propaganda in its most literal form.
In 1997, after reports that "Red Dawn" was one of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's favorite films, MGM/United Artists vice president Peter Bart revealed to Variety that when his company first considered the movie's script, the studio's CEO "declared in no uncertain terms that he wanted to make the ultimate jingoistic movie." The studio subsequently recruited Reagan's recently departed secretary of state, retired general Alexander Haig, to serve on MGM's corporate board, "consult with ['Red Dawn's'] director and inculcate the appropriate ideological tint." Though the screenplay's first draft strived to lament the tragedies of war, Bart recounted how the studio "demanded to know why [it] should try to remake 'Lord of the Flies' when it could instead try for 'Rambo.'"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


OMD. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for those of you not in the know.  This review is a bit different in that it’s re-visiting sounds from back in the day through a current live concert featuring that band and those songs from back in the 80’s.  OMD played melodic whimsical synth pop back then and they still do, having not played in the US for over 13 years or more, they opted to pull out the hits from the 80’s.  I remember having the "best of" recorded on a cassette and I’m fairly certain after opening with a new song which sounded just like the old songs, they played the entire album.  The high energy songs worked really well, the slower stuff which is basically the high energy stuff played slower opened the gates for boredom to set in.   These are the sounds of early 80’s Prom and movies starring Molly Ringwald which generally take place at the Prom or some other school dance.  I mean these are pleasant songs and the opening act Oh Land reminded me of how much worse synthpop could be and seeing a member of Freezepop in the audience then made me realize how much worse it could go from there and made me think at least I was grateful for seeing synthpop done well.  But even synthpop done well has its drawbacks.  Keyboard players like laptop musicians are just boring to watch, it’s sort of like a soundtrack to somebody doing their taxes or writing a paper or checking their email. Because all of these sounds going direct and how that doesn’t lend itself for variance,  it sometimes comes across like you’re just listening to the CD played through a PA system.   The boredom starts to set in as a result and they don’t help matter by moving into their slow jams around this point.  Back in the day I would fast forward the cassette over these songs but I was stuck.  The audience and even the band made me feel like I was at a board meeting or a  corporate function, the skinny ties the band were wearing didn’t help matters.   So my conclusion: synthpop is pleasant yet still boring after all these years.  Here’s to the future! 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Bangles - "All Over The Place"

Today,   I present to you the Bangles.  Like all good bands should do, they called it a day on their third record (although they’ve gotten back together in the double 0’s but I’m going to pretend that didn’t happen) and while most people are aware of the second (A Different Light) and third (Everything) records, the ones with their top ten hits written by professional songwriters, they mostly aren’t aware that before that they released an album called “All Over the Place” filled with songs they mostly wrote themselves, mostly by guitarist Vickie Petterson.  The sound wasn’t as polished and was more straight up garage rock with a sixties influence.  Of course it’s the early eighties so the songs are a bit cleaner and not as sloppily played as a lot of more recent indie bands but what they’ve recorded seems to be what a lot of indie-pop bands have attempted to achieve throughout the 90’s and 00’s.  And they do it with a better sense of melody and harmony than a majority if not all of them.  I just listened back to Lush & especially on their last record LoveLife, the sound they were heading toward can easily be related to the songs from “All Over the Place”. 

Like the Mission UK, this was another album I purchased from the cheapies in the local PX (military base equivalent of wal-mart) and at the time, I was just getting into music that wasn’t metal…I blame this on Faith No More and to an extent the Cure but really that FNM “Introduce Yourself” album was the gateway and I had heard a few of the non-hit tracks from A Different Light and thought I’d check out the Bangles more thoroughly. If you know what I mean.  For some reason the opening track reminds me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles too, maybe I had just discovered them at the same time.  Four girls in a band,  four mutant turtles in the sewer.  It makes sense.

EDIT:  My judgement on this record has changed since i initially posted this.  My judgement was that although it was fantastic indie pop, indie pop just wasn't my thing.   However since then i've listened to this album quite a bit and think despite the corny lyrics it's a fantastic record.  I also updated the video to more accurately fit what they were sounding like back then.

Another thing about the 80’s.   Holy Crap are they embarrassing… instead of posting the actual videos, here's a live bootleg from a concert in 82 playing "Tell Me" also worth checking out is the live version of "Dover Beach" from the same era.  It's kind of sad actually to see what they came from and what happened to them after being filtered through  80's Major Label fuckery (the corny studio musicians the producer brought in for the next two records really take a toll on the more raw rock n rolling they were capable of and also resulted in them being dismissed as a pop band in the ranks with Bobby Brown, Madonna etc. . .)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lush Split

So in the early 90’s there were three important bands for me.  The Cure, Cranes & Lush.  All three of those bands had albums I could listen to on repeat and whom I would seek out bootleg recordings and attend their concerts at every opportunity, sometimes driving a few hours in order to do so.  And I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza and the MC of the day coming on stage and proclaiming that this band was going to be around for a really long time like the Rolling Stones, which is funny since out of those three bands and even out of most of the bands on the bill that day, they’ve had the shortest life-span. Not to mention the thought of Lush as the golden girls kicking about onstage.   My first time seeing them was in a small venue in Raleigh, NC with a horrible Flaming Lips (another band that has outlived and skyrocketed past them in popularity) as opener.  It was the tour for Spooky, which loads of people seem to think is their best album and which incorrectly got them labeled as shoegaze over the years thanks to Robin Guthrie’s production.  But overlooked at least in the US lodged between Spooky and Lovelife (the album that saw them transform into a straight up indie pop group) was this remarkable album Split.  They started to shed the effects that Robin Guthrie painted them with and the songs took on more structure as opposed to just the wall of jangly guitars with high female voices cooing over them, It even had a few moments where they attempted to get back to their more punky side like ‘Blackout’.   It was actually more in line with the Cure than with Cocteau Twins, Ride or Slowdive, the last three having never really made an impression on me although apparently whom every nu-gaze band worships along side of MBV.  Much like those nu-gaze bands, to me what set Lush apart was that they weren’t just guitar sounds set to pop music, they actually had decent songs to go along with it.  Seems they were always too ethereal for the rock fans and too rock for the ethereal fans but were just right for somebody like me.
So anyways, I haven’t really listened to Lush in a long while. Occassionally I’ll hear the song “For Love” someplace and think “oh”.  But I saw something about them on the internets and decided to give it another spin.  My conclusion is conflicted:  The songs and the band are great, the production I can’t really get with.  It’s not bad but it’s dated and sounds a bit lifeless.  If it was blaring I could get into it but listening at a normal volume left a little to be desired. Little things like the guitars lack power, the drums are too far in the background, the bass could use a bit more low end or punch or something.  It’s like I’m listening to a rough mix of an album as opposed to the real deal.  To me I like every song on this album except for maybe Desire Lines & Never-Never and I don’t particularly dislike them, they actually remind me of rainy car rides in a white mitsubuishi mirage that has since left us.  Maybe they tried to polish this one a bit too much, the production should have been closer to Lovelife and I think they thought it was too big of a jump to go from the Guthrie produced Spooky to a straight up alterna-rock album.  Unfortunate.  This is one of those album that I hope down the line will get snatched up in the wave of remastering and repackaging with b-sides old albums since nobody will buy the new ones craze.  Having a decent version of Rupert the Bear would be cool as well since I think the only copy I’ve got of that is a Flexi-disc.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Judge Dredd vs Judge Death

The thing about Metal bands are that they're not able to tap into the wealth of love, i'm in love or i'm out of love content most bands draw from.  To compensate, they delve into writing songs about all the things they geek out about in absence of relationshiops.  Things like Metal Music (Whiplash-metallica); Literature (Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner – Iron Maiden);  Post-Apocalypse Fantasy (Post Apocalyptic City – Testament); Wars (anything by Slayer), Doin It (anything by Motley Crue) and Comics (I Am The Law – Anthrax). 

 And due to my interest in metal in the late 80’s, this song by Anthrax introduced me to the world of Judge Dredd and my introduction to Dredd was through an anthology on his adventures with Judge Death, a Judge from another dimension who declares that all crimes are committed by the living and therefore living is a crime and punishable by death.

I’m not sure what happened to my copy of this comic, I mean graphic novel, maybe it wasn’t even mine to begin with but a loaner that I kept for an insanely long time. At any rate it vanished and just recently as I was ebaying I gave a search (I think also because I recently watched that Big Four DVD which contained a set by Anthrax) and purchased  Judge Dredd vs. Judge Death.  After receiving it, I noticed a couple of things.  This wasn’t the same thing I had back in the early 80’s although it contained the same stories plus a few more and two, I thought the copy I had was in full-color but this is only black and white and three I guess I don’t really dig the comic format as a storytelling device.  The art was cool and Dredd was kicking ass as per usual but Death and the other Dark judges really steal the show and are under utilized.  While I guess most people seem to get introduced to comics via Marvel or DC, 2000AD titles like Dredd and Bad Company were the ones that caught my attention and maybe I'm judging the entire comic world based on their work primarily, what I noticed is that I require a bit more depth to enjoy a story and the comic world just leaves too much up to the imagination or comes across as shallow if you don't fill in the blanks yourself.  For me I think it’s inability to really portray emotions realistically is what keeps me from being engaged.   It was fine when I was a teenager  when just the cool artwork was enough but I’m just not into it anymore, despite still digging the art and general idea of the book.

A brief run down of the plot line:  As hinted above, Judge Death skips over to MegaCity-One to lay down the law of his world which is Guilty of Life, Sentenced to Death hard line  stance.  The Judges of MegaCity-One have to figure out how to stop him and fast.  A Psi-Ops Judge, Judge Anderson, traps Judge Death in her mind and Judge Dredd uses some futuristic bonding spray called Boing to seal both her and Judge Death in a capsule of some sort.  Fast forward to Judge Death Lives, his three compadres from his dimension sneak over, Judge Mortis, Fear & Fire and con some Megacity Dweller into cutting a hole in the capsule for Death to escape.  This goes off without a hitch but the Judges are of course alerted and take on Judge Death again eventually following the Dark Judges back to their dimension to make sure they don’t return.  In the end it wasn’t Dredd that saved the day but the souls of all of Judge Death’s victims on his own world using Judge Anderson as a medium to exact their revenge.   Cool huh?  When I was 16 definitely but not so much now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad comic just that comics aren’t really my cup of tea.  1 for Nostalgia 0 for me. There’s also a few more stories added at the end, like the War Games against the Sovs.

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