Sunday, June 29, 2014

Living Colour - Times Up (90s Era)

Living Colour Time's Up 08/28/1990 Epic Records

My story with this record more or less involved me going through a transitional phase. I was walking out of the radio friendly comforts, and delving deep in a wider pasture of cassette tapes and a (brand) walkman.

Piece by piece I would eventually purchase my own tapes, and while I had been accustomed to the pop construct, I was going in a very different area where sounds and attitude gave voice to my blossoming worldview.

Which brought me to a little under appreciated record that quietly came out in 1990. This was my first entry for Living Colour. This was their second album the follow-up to Vivid.

Time's Up was an album filled stark contrasts. Little Richard (musical guest) being one of them (old school meets fresh school).

Yet then the album is lavished with co-existing with the growing hip-hop hardcore gangster rap scene (at that time). Rather than go in that direction (guest) Queen Latifah I think provides a foundation of common sense.

This record shares that urban existence and accepts it as an evolving mechanism. I felt that Time's Up was completely removed from a lot of that blatant bravado, and embraced more of conscientious social awareness in it's commentary, while still staying passionate, connected, and grounded.

While that was the surface element of the album, Time's Up showcased strength, understanding, acceptance, and was not afraid to poke fun of themselves for the sake of it.

The music sounds tight, and still feels modern, though it is closing in on 25 years, I still come back to and recall where I was, and seeing how much things haven't changed. There is still very divisive division, and the themes this record parlayed (then) are still relevant (today).

I've appreciated the albums sharp observation, truthful conviction, and humbled presentation. All of that would conclude with the next release Biscuits (1991), whereas Stain (1993), would be a shift in the bands overall tone, attitude, and inflection. Thanks for reading.

B


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Technology Tribulations: Job Recruiters

Job Recruiters - My take on them

In my travels, I have very intuitive responses to various outlets that employ scam tactics in justifying their sales pitch. In this case I'm talking about Job Recruiters. In the 90's back when this was all the rage with certain states, due in large part of major fortune 500 companies laying off a workforce due in large part to outside consultants, i.e. redundancy, blue collar versus white collar.

When those folks were let go, it flooded a market that wasn't really prepared in taking on large out of work population, while also the influx of young graduates from high school (generation x) couldn't really gain traction forward. This is where a specific kind of prospect was created to fill a niche compartment in and around finding people work...or so they thought.

If one was so desperate they'd hire some yahoo to sell their image/brand to some company. Sometimes it worked, other times many, and I mean many people were duped into a false sense of promise.

Enter the 21st century and now these human pig smellies (Invader Zim) have taken to the internet, and lo-and-behold are everywhere. I am as skeptical as the next person, but I know when I see bullshit, and there is a lot of bullshit happening.

My traction with Job Recruiters was intermittent, meeting with a few jerkoffs whom seem to think they know whats the best fit for my worth. I've been extremely suspect of someone who 'gets' me in the first five minutes they talk to me.

No, the underlying criticism I have here is how in the world can this be a real and justifiable employment field? Not everyone fits in the same mold, skillset, or career objective i.e. each person is like a snow flake (thank you Lewis Black)

Having been spoken to in this manner that has this faux demeanor, with arbitrary corporate speak platitudes, a lot the spiel is totally and unequivocally condescending. Most of the what a job recruiter is selling you on is a promise that eventually fails, and falls through.

In the process you must jump through imaginary hoops these recruiters use. How do you know if you did well? What is the success ratio of employment retention? How is the reputation of the company they are trying to set me up with?

You know...the one main critical component a real person would utilize and that's called research. I'm extremely critical, by using my personal analysis, and experience to gauge whether or not the situation warrants further inquiry. In a nutshell I don't like getting duped, and sucked into a situation.

They pad your ego to make you feel like your going to get the job, but in the end that dangling fish hook with promising dollar signs is taunted and then whisked away without any real concern to your mental health or well being.

I continue to have questions, yet these new breed of recruiters seem to be a missing one crucial aspect of the job search process: where is the real interview? It is a scam to build up people who are looking for work, who are struggling to find some real meaningful employment that doesn't rob them of a quality life.

Today's job recruiters are scam artists. They don't give a shit whether you succeed or not. Their sole purpose is to engage you, enrage you, lie to you, build you up then chop you down. That is my two cents on this subject.

B.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Type O Negative - Dead Again (2000's Era)

Type O Negative - Dead Again 3/13/2007 SPV Records

Dead Again, is a record that is lighter in texture, giving more of a vibrant viewpoint than the brash tongue in cheek Life Is Killing Me (2003) record.

There is an evolved element, while there is a organic vibe of the drums, as the keyboard components are mere touches adding subtle atmosphere. Both the guitar and bass add an accompanied somber finality for the band.

Like Rasputan whom from lore had many lives (if you read the myriad viewpoints), in a almost self inclusive joke the band used this as way to market Dead Again.

Dead Again is like a rebirth, a fresh kind of slate. A new record label, and a new found freedom (to some degree). Yet, underneath the surface felt uneasy, like rummaging through fresh memories stained by a passage of time.

Though TON always used heavier atmospheric pieces of "Beatlesque" tones, while also employing 70's long play song structure, it was Peter's lyrical gait which pulsated forth with Dead Again. Here he uses a completely different complexion rather than the dark tomes from prior work.

There is a loss that bludgeons the listener if they are aware of it. The realities of age, and the resolution of conquering personal addiction. A lot of it I think was because of their infrequent releases. TON didn't really fit into the American radio format, and because of that they existed in a vacuum almost inclusive to their own whim or whenever it was time to record something. The single September Sun (which was edited down to fit radio format of 4 minutes) is I think a direct result of this.

Since 1994 I've enjoyed watching this band evolve, watching and reading their many trials and tribulations along the way. Many of the personal and private frustrations were given a twisted sense of humor, yet there was always an honesty about how fucked up being in a rock band is

When Peter Steele passed away in 2010 it was punch to my reality in mortality. I was hopeful for another record, but like many fans Dead Again will be the final record from Type O Negative. Though the immediate ex-members still trudge on with A Pale Horse Named Death, and Seventh Void, the family is strong. Thanks for reading.

B.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li  (r)04/16/2014
Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions

This is a record I wasn't quite ready or prepared to check out. It straddles upon what I've heard before, but I've to come around to it in a different aspect. Letting it play in the background and letting it settle.

Sure, there are songs I am definitely on the fence about it, yes the atmospheric pieces work, but most of the compositions work behind all the crunch and pulverizing scraping of the guitars and full on blast beat work. Jangly is how best to describe the guitars here.

Vocally its a miss for me because of the raspy screeches. I would have liked to have heard more variation. Though there are spoken pieces intermittent through Tekeli-Li, otherwise the music works in a ethereal vibe.

It is thick but also comfortable. There aren't a lot of areas to ply forth as this sound is common, yet the thing that I've come back to is the layering of texture, and emotive presence. Yet I worry about how much black metal has fallen into these trappings. I will admit this is fresh, but still hangs onto what is perceived. Perception can help or hinder, depends on mood.

I am glad there still is this abrasive aspect out there, but I kind of think that some fresh perspective can cure what ails. Great things ahead or more of the same, time will tell with this band.

Tekeli-Li isn't a bad record, but I am glad to know of The Great Old Ones, another France band that I seem to be drawing towards as of late. Thanks for reading.

B.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GWAR and Me

I woke up like any other person getting ready for the day when I happened to read a strange tweet from Devin Townsend explaining Dave Brockie founding member and character personality Oderus Urungus passed away on Sunday March 23rd 2014 at the age of 50.

If I may say is to soon, but I get it in the harshest reality of being in a band where cash is often elusive, hence the often cliche term starving artist reaches forth and strangles health and prosperity before my eyes.

Being a long time fan (since the 90's) I've watched both the slide and evolution (if you will). The band and the revolving door of characters change and tried to compete with a disconnected...err out of touch music industry that seemed to be in at arms length way of marketing them.

It is really cool to see the DIY aspect of this band, though backed by a major label (which in this day is dame near unheard of), a lot the work was done behind the scenes.

I am at a loss as to the unfairness about the band, yet there is this uncomfortable reality which followed the band. Dave's over the top personality sometimes influenced indirectly that perception.

Yes its true us diehards liked them but it never translated into anything more than a kind of televised recognition. I it find curious how the GWAR machine perpetuated this frenzy, but it didn't go very far even with fresh reboot (of sorts with Cory Smoot). Either way, GWAR was always that light of creative energy in what has become a bland and sterile industry unsure of itself.

Firstly, on a personal level I am gutted. Secondly, like the Type O Negative situation funding dictated whether or not I could participate, and third, Dave's death (I believe) leaves a big hole in the creative and theatrical arena. I am not trying to discount all the hard work that goes into a GWAR show, or what Lordi does, Green Jelly, Mushroohead, or Slipknot to name a few others.

Like those groups, what younger generation of performers is taking the mantel set by those bands? Dave put the strange in weird, that is my take on it. Even with all the of the band members towing the large carcass forth, GWAR feels empty now that he isn't part of that. The one thing I could always look forward to was his art, craft, his writings, and design.

I've never got to meet the man, but, we all know someone like Dave, whom can be extremely boisterous, obnoxious, over the top, unrelenting, fearless, and employs gobs of cock sureness that inspires or it infuriates. For me Dave's alter ego Oderus is that last stamp of a now fading 80's era of punk and thrash music scene.

Sure there are so many people whom shared wit with the man, yet from all the stories I've read from his RVAnews GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death web blog, his writing sealed an intimate, and personal inside look with my fandom of the band and his alter ego/character.

I will miss Dave and Oderus (whom are one and the same), I will look fondly upon his countless hours of video, interviews, and miserable writings he left all of us with. I don't believe I will mourn his passing because he celebrated it every day by owning it, torturing it, and kicking its ass.

His creativity will always be part of my rough side. I am still stunned by his passing, but I accept it because there is no sorrow, just joy, and ample amount of passionate compassion that is missing in a indifferent extreme music scene unsure of where it wants to go.

Thank you for all the great music, wisdom, trash, and verbal diarrhea. The world is going to miss your slice of perspective. I already do. Thanks for reading.

B.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Immolation - Unholy Cult (2000's Era)

Immolation - Unholy Cult Olympic Recordings 10/28/2002

Unholy Cult was my first introduction by a Yonkers New York area band named Immolation.

I was completely taken by surprise in the harmonic dissonances of the first track Of Martyrs, and Men.

What followed afterward was nothing I was prepared for. It was an auditory onslaught, pummeling my earlobes whilst never letting up. In years since my introduction (2003) this record has stuck with me.

The message throughout the record evokes a very sad and troubled observation. Part of it relies in a martyred shift of humanities decision about personal choice, which derives more from manipulation, and control (something of a concurrent theme with many of their releases).

There are anti-religious aspects which paint a very negative light to it's ritualism (though it is very much on the surface), but what is underneath is screaming for an untethered freedom to individualism that is unmet due in large part by corrupted institutionalism.

The musicianship is fantastic, which reminds of a lot of spastic jazz, just done with heavy distortion, and effect. If there is one key thing I've enjoyed about this record is the drumming of Alex Hernandez.

He is spastic, powerful, whilst completely changing tempo on whim, while having a slight variation pushed this outside of what I was accustomed to. Some of the songs tend to drift lengthwise but I think that is what cements their style outside of the more modern death metal. Unholy Cult is still one of my personal favorites from the band. Thanks for reading.

B.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Green Jellö - Cereal Killer Soundtrack (90's Era)

Green Jellö - The Cereal Killer Soundtrack March 5th, 1993 Zoo Entertainment

Green Jellö was odd. I was aware of GWAR and the silliness that band used, but Green Jellö were something completely different. At that time I hadn't quite mastered or understood what Arthouse meant, because when I was starting out in the music world so many flavors, points of view, cultural attitudes, and vibes were clamoring for my attention (as it were).

My exposure was via MTV and Headbangers Ball hosted then by Ricki Rachtman with the video Three Little Pigs. I would later learn via a personal acquaintance Green Jellö had put out a music video of the songs which would eventually be released on CD, LP, and Cassette. The whole thing was played in a avante garde theater, with a dusting of kabuki for dramatic flair. 

Some of the material is very crude, over the top, extremely amateur, and very much silly, but the context is extremely blatant if one is paying close attention. Sometimes it can be a bit of a blunt force trauma, but I think it works on the social construction and stigma during that period.

It is my personal opinion that this work straddles a kind of rough, extreme low budget stratus, but the message I feel is always front and center.

This was their first official record release by a major label, whereas I will count this to be their third release as they were doing this form since the early 80's. 

I think Green Jellö play to the familiarity with catchy 70ish riffs, and a sprinkling of a few original numbers. Yes the songs are plain ridiculous, songtitles like The Misadventures of Shitman, or House Me Teenage Rave to name a couple. 

Nothing about The Cereal Killer Soundtrack push any new areas, only that this record came out during a period of change, and I think they hit it hard considering. Yet I've wondered if they really ever got over the hump.

Any success they did have was short lived because of a lawsuit or trademark infringement, something I haven't been clear on with the details, as what is out there is sketchy. 

What happened to the band was a forced name change from Green Jellö to Green Jellÿ, and I feel they never recuperated from this setback.

If you want to see something pretty strange, from a time that is now twenty plus years, I highly encourage you to invest a little time and check out their Youtube channel. Thanks for reading.

B.