Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Starkweather on Buller's Variety

Back in August of 1994, I became aware that there was a Rogers local access Cable 10 show in Oshawa called "Buller's Variety" booking local bands to perform. Starkweather* was of course very interested in the idea.

I called Ben Rotterman, the guy in charge, and he agreed to have us on, saying we'd be playing one song ("preferably unplugged. No swearing, and no acting like a schmuck") followed by a short interview with two members of the band. I asked if the whole band could be present for the interview, but he said the set wouldn't allow it.

The night of the taping, we had a short practise before making our way to the Rogers studio. I'd initially wanted to play our newest tune, "Teenage Sicko", but we decided to go with either "The Bushwhack" or "Aluminum Baseball Bat" and "High Octane Death". When we arrived at the studio however, they told us they wanted up to five minutes of music, so ultimately we wound up playing both "The Bushwhack" and "Aluminum Baseball Bat".

One song was about oral sex and the other featured the word fuck, but we hoped no one would notice (and no one did).  I tried not to act like a schmuck. Jay Matuschka and I were interviewed.

After we finished recording, we emphasized that we didn't want effects such as Shadwell's Jacket had had the previous week; Ben Rotterman showed us a whole bunch of possibilities, and we decided to go with grainy black and white with a slight strobe and some fake hair on the lens for that old timey look.

What follows is the two songs, recorded at the time on a VCR. The interview is missing, which is just as well.

* later changed to The Starkweather Fix

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Flavor Flav Jamz!

I was listening to PUBLIC ENEMY recently and realised that Flavor Flav now has enough 'solo tracks' from the group's albums to create a CD (or double LP) all on his own. But what kind of record would this be? And would it be a good listen?

The answers will depend on your tolerance for Flav's unique clownery and lyrical delivery (musically, his tracks are generally fairly straightforward club music of various styles, with lots of female choirs and occassional gospel touches). PUBLIC ENEMY has always kept to the adage that, Flavor-wise, less is more, and this theoretical compilation challenges that philosophy directly.

The early Flav material was strictly dynamite: PUBLIC ENEMY's 1987 debut "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" gave us "Too Much Posse", and its 1988 follow-up "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" of course featured "Cold Lampin' With Flavor", perhaps the early pinnacle of Flav's style and skills.

PUBLIC ENEMY's third album "Fear Of A Black Planet" (1990) had two Flavor Flav songs, "911 Is A Joke" (the band's second #1 in the U.S.) and "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man". Worth noting that some of the later techno sounds Flavor would use so prominently also show up here. Then it's back to one track on "Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black" (1991), this time "I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga". "Gett Off My Back" from "Greatest Misses" (1992) continues the trend of addressing serious topics, this time drug addiction.

"Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age" (1994) arguably has three Flav tracks. "I Ain't Mad At All" is a bit of a throwback to "911 Is A Joke" musically, while "Godd Complex" is so stripped down, it reminds me of nothing so much as "Yo! Bum Rush The Show". "What Kind Of Power We Got?" meanwhile inverts the standard PE juxtaposition and has Chuck D positioned as hype man to Flavor.

For the soundtrack to Spike Lee's "He Got Game" (1998), Flav drops "Shake Your Booty", a party anthem with a female chorus that signaled a bit of a change towards more vacuous subject matter. This slippage was temporarily interrupted by "There's A Poison Goin' On" (1999)'s "41:19", a strong-hitting number referencing the NYPD shooting of Amadou Diallo, and one of Flavor's strongest tracks, period. This album unfortunately also includes perhaps the nadir of Flavor songs: "What What", a fairly pointless, endless techno jam, this time with a male chorus.

After "What What", Flav actually dropped off doing solo tracks at all on PE's albums for a spell. When he did return, it was with a series of titles referencing himself: "The Flavor Flav Show" ("Beats And Places", 2006), "They Call Me Flavor" ("Rebirth Of A Nation", 2006), and finally "Flavor Man", the first of three Flav songs from "How Do You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?"* (2007).

"Flavor Man" is something of a comeback tune, with Flav directly challenging the idea he's fallen off. While I enjoy "Flavor Man", the album's other two Flav tracks are pretty dire: "Col-Leepin'" is a rerun of "Cold Lampin'" and doesn't improve on it in any way; "Bridge Of Pain" is a maudlin, sentimental tale of Flav's time in Riker's Island jail. Flav sings. At least it's short.

At the time of writing, the most recent Flav tune is "31 Flavors" from 2012's "The Evil Empire of Everything". I'm happy to say that this is a good one; Flav sounds excited again, and the vocal delivery pushes this into the realm of his better efforts.

So, all in all, it's good stuff which got marred at some point and then largely got better again. It'd make a better LP than a double LP, in my humble opinion. Let me close by paying respect to the "Flavor Man", and offering him condolences on his mother's recent passing.

Hear these tracks here:
Flavor Flav Jamz

*these three tracks also appeared on Flav's only solo album to date, 2006's eponymous record, also known as "Hollywood".

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Get the PANIC

First, a couple of sweet reviews from Soaktest 13 and Fuzz Drench...

The PANIC spreads. Our debut record "Bad Fantasies" now available digitally at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify*, as well as in physical 180 gram LP form at Toronto-area record stores such as Soundscapes, Rotate This, and June Records. The LP can also be ordered through our Facebook page.

And... "Bad Fantasies" can be heard at the CBC, Soundcloud, and our Bandcamp page.

*not working this morning for whatever reason. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

la belle et le couteau - quatorze

For the first post of 2014, the 14th installment in an image that continues to hold so much power, le belle et le couteau...


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Best of My Youtube Videos

If you've been following YouTube at all lately, you're probably aware that the organization is undergoing something of a content purge, shutting down accounts left and right due to copyright infringement issues. My own account has been hit hard by "registered to a third party" complaints for the music in my, er, music videos; whenever I receive one of these complaints, I delete the offending video (this happens roughly a third of the time now, incidentally). I do this because, if the owner (or anyone, apparently) actually files a grievance, my account will be terminated, and all of my videos will be deleted en masse.

The point of this post is to mark a likely end to (my uploading to) that account (because I'm tired of dealing with the above), look back at what videos are still available on YouTube, and highlight a few of these along the way. When I first started posting, I was strictly mixing the music with still images because that's all I knew how to do. Later, I learned how to edit actual clips together. From beginning to end, I've also posted what you might call 'album cover videos' since they (usually) restrict themselves to a still picture of the cover; these are also sometimes called "audio only".

Posted about back in April 2011, "Uschi" (by No No Zero) was my first video, and remains the one with the highest view count.

Age restriction effectively slowed viewership of that one to a crawl, but hey, it's still there at least. Incidentally, my second highest view count belongs to Skullflower's "Diamond Bullet" (also an early album cover-type stills video), also still with us. The video with the least amount of views remains "Gush" by the late, great Aube. And this one has been around for a while too, so -- make of that what you will.

Figuring out how to edit video clips together was a revelation and inspired all kinds of different attempts at mixing sound and moving images. What follows is a line-up of some of my faves:

Namanax "Aquanax"

Bodychoke "The Red Sea"

 Shit & Shine "Practising To Be A Doctor"

No No Zero "(Let's Get Some) Vienna Action!"

The Starkweather Fix "My Body Is An Eyesore"

Rake "Remote Sensing"

Azonic "River Blindness"

Ramleh "Utopia Dust"

Pierre Henry "Après La Mort 2"

Merzbow "Black Brain Of Piranese"

James Plotkin "Plunge"

Brainbombs "No More"

B.A.L.L. "R.I.P."

Fushitsusha "The Halation Born Between You And I Who Were Doomed To Appear In Form"

Shar Pei "Xa (I-III)"

Body Rot "Creep Beat"

Terminal Cheesecake "Satan Is Real"

Mick Harris "Astray"

Holy Mount "Garm Of Hounds"

Sleazy Meanz "Sid The Sexist"

Cylon "Seeker"

The Exploding Tits "Rosalba Exposed"

MB "Zebra"

William Burchette "Invoke The Name Of God"

Monday, 25 November 2013

Introducing PANIC


The new band I've been alluding to here the last while has a name and a record, and I'm ready to spill the beans.

PANIC is made up of Christopher Sandes (keyboards), Johnny LaRue (drums), Greg "Sweets" Sweetland (bass), Zak Hanna (guitar), yours truly on vocals and occasional theremin -- plus Jeremy Strachan on the baritone saxophone. Our album is called "Bad Fantasies" and was recorded at 6 Nassau by none other than the legendary Pete Hudson. It's undoubtedly the best sounding record I've ever been a part of.

"Bad Fantasies" is available digitally now on Bandcamp, to either purchase or peruse. A limited edition of 180 gram vinyl LPs (with download cards) will be delivered soon, and will be available at shows. No expense was spared for these slabs o' wax as I'm sure you'll agree when you hold one in your hands.

PANIC Bandcamp