December 2006 Archives
One musical selection -- "Spectrum" offers us all some words of wisdom to consider for the new year, courtesy of Don Cornelius and the Soul Train Gang (circa 1975). I'd probably expand the sentiment a little to reflect the broader issues in contemporary society, but the general idea is right on (as are the groovy back-up singers).
Listen to Spectrum:
I'm checking in from Flagstaff, AZ where I'm looking forward to the "Great Pinecone Drop" tonight, from three stories above the Weatherford Hotel.
Best wishes to all, and to all a good night.
I ventured out for my final live show of the year on December 16 to see ¡Forward, Russia!, Snowden, and Middle Distance Runner at the Black Cat.
Middle Distance Runner -- this DC-based opener (with the unfortunate distinction of a Flash-infested site) struck me as the epitome of "local support." They brought lots of friends and family (hopefully not all on the guest list), put on a passable and energetic rock set, and did nothing that would possibly upstage the touring bands. I wouldn't go out of my way to see them again, but I also wouldn't recoil in horror to see them on a bill I'm otherwise attending.
Snowden -- hailing from Atlanta (also with a painfully Flash-heavy website) but sounding quite English. The most effective selections came when they opted for the double-bass shoegazer approach. The synth (replacing one guitar) detracted from the overall performance, leading the band into derivative spaces already well-mined by Interpol. They clearly know how to nail the "single," Anti-Anti, but there were plenty other enjoyable (if somewhat predictable) moments. And it takes a lot of guts to end with a slow, building burner dedicated to the headliner, especially when the styles are SO different.
Forward Russia -- I've heard that the "numbers gimmick" is coming to an end, and that's probably a good thing. Nobody really wants to hear a song titled "Thirty-four" no matter how good it is. Hyper-kinetic, even on the "slow new song" mid-set -- "slow" in this case meaning a med(+) tempo. This was FR's last show of this US tour and of the year, and they left it all on the floor. Guitarist Whiskas warmed up with (and then successfully employed) some old NWOBHM riffage, adding an unexpected (but welcome) depth to what could otherwise be written off as just another Gang of Four revivalist. Lead singer practically strangled himself on the microphone cord a few times, combined with coming VERY close to knocking out various audience members with the microphone.
This was a frenetic, pounding, driving set of music that even induced me to pull out the earplugs a couple times. For the finale, Snowden joined FR onstage to pound on/destroy the drumkit and keyboard in a monstrous pigpile, concluding with Whiskas hanging his guitar from the sprinkler pipe in a feedback loop broken only when the the soundman dumped to the house monitors.
Looking back, I realized that I only attended four shows this year, and the three I picked all featured headliners from Yorkshire -- Wedding Present / Leeds; Long Blondes / Sheffield; Forward Russia / Leeds. (Sticks and Stones was the other, and my attendance was somewhat accidental but well worth it.) Not sure what that means, other than a reinvigoration of some latent anglophilia, the proliferation of music blogs focused on the UK, or just dumb luck. In any event, I'm hoping to get out a bit more often in 2007.
The Washington Post recently offered its opinions on the best "non-standard" holiday films, and made an EGREGIOUS error in omitting my favorite. Notwithstanding my recent fascination with nearly all things English (I'll pass on the mushy peas, thanks) and my...
Carnival of Shame -- Happy Alcoholidays EP (Burnin' Records 1993).
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- The Grinch
- Snoopy's Christmas ("Christmas Bells")
I am still amazed by this record each year ... from the EP title to the lovely photo of the band to the song selections. Carnival of Shame is a Philadelphia band (still playing as of a couple years ago) who work mostly in that sludgy space between bar-rock and metal. I've spared you the Eddie Van Halen / Joe Satriani histrionics on "Auld Lang Syne," opting instead for one perennial favorite and two slightly stranger offerings.
"God Rest Ye Gentlemen" honestly sounds like Glenn Danzig fronting the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The over-compressed and processed guitar is perfectly matched to the bellowing vocals. I believe Aimee Mann is the most recent performer to tackle The Grinch, but this version is much closer to the Boris Karloff rendition, without the breathing room created in the original orchestration.
Since I rarely visited the B-side of this single, the real surprise for me this year was rediscovering "Snoopy's Christmas," originally recorded by the Royal Guardsmen. This band of high school classmates found their novelty niche in the late 60s with "Snoopy vs The Red Baron" and have apparently reformed in recent years to resume mining that rich vein (now updated to "Snoopy vs Osama").
Best wishes to all... and remember that if you're in the vicinity of a computer between 6pm (EST) on December 24 and 6pm on December 25, you need to tune in WPRB.com and catch some portion of Jon Solomon's 19th christmas extravaganza.
A few gifting ideas and one plea for help.
LifeHacker offers tips on re-gifting (a valuable and effective skill when done right) and investigating the charities BEFORE they receive your well-intentioned donations, while BoingBoing discusses the conundrum of selecting the right gift before we all give up in favor of The Human Fund. Also from BoingBoing, check out Cory's well-considered (and generally admirable) list of worthy recipients for those donations.
From the "helping-the-extended-community" file:
J. Robbins (Government Issue, Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels) and his wife Janet Morgan¹s baby boy Cal was born with a serious genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Though there is no cure for this condition, there are lots of treatments that promise to give Cal the best possible quality of life. Unfortunately, many of these, especially the alternative treatments, are not covered by health insurance.
J. and Janet have given so much over the years to the music community we're all a part of. Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot of DeSoto Records are hoping you can see in your hearts to help them out now.
They have set up a website with more information and a place to make a donation. All of the money will go straight to J. and Janet to help defray their growing medical bills.
More (cheerier) holiday content coming soon...