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Showing posts from September, 2017

The Dream Syndicate make a pretty awesome new album. Let us now praise not all that famous men (and a woman) ...

Let’s talk about the Dream Syndicate. They have a new album on Anti-Epitaph. You know, what gradually became viewed as Steve Wynn’s band. Until it was, well, Steve Wynn’s band and he had a solo career. Sigh. The guy has never made a shitty record. Some are better than others, but so are your mornings.

Anyway, let’s talk about the Velvet Underground. You know you want to. Everybody does. They were great. Yup. They made a mindfuck of a debut album that set the template for everything left of center since. But damn it, in 2017 people get to have a variety of opinion about which of their four (VU being almost a fifth, the others being live records) being the best Velvets album. 

Among the tiny brain trust of alternative media, no such discussion is allowed when it comes to the Dream Syndicate. Nope, they made a revelatory debut (and their debut is most like the VU’s debut - not insignificant, since the Velvets were an acknowledged inspiration to the DS) - then it all went downhill, maybe …

Cancer Rising, Goodnight Grant, So Long Jessi

A few weeks back my urologist cut something out of my bladder. A papillary carcinoma, I think it is called. One more box to tick off on my Medical History, one more reason I’ll never buy life insurance: Cancer.
Oh, I’m alright. Doc’s pretty sure they “got it.” Of course, having a cam and a cutter crammed up my prick may be a little more frequent feature of my life. But, so it goes.
It goes, that is, until you’re gone.
Grant Hart is gone. 56, cancer. Jessi Zazu is gone. 28, cancer.
I scroll through my Facebook friends – Jesus, lots of gone ones. Most gone to cancer. Devin, Greg – hell, so many.
Shit’s in my family, too. My in-laws and my sister-in-law have had their battles with the stuff. My mom was lost to cancer, at 73. She’d be 100 in October. My dad followed her three years later; he was 87. He would have been 109 yesterday if he was from the Caucasus Mountains and ate lots of yogurt. Cancer? Nope. Heartbreak. It happens. Saul Bellow understood.
Oh, that’s to say nothing of…

Yawpers and "Boy in a Well," or 'French girl has a tryst with some dude on Armistice Day at the close of the First World War, la tragédie ensues.'

The Yawpers are from Denver. Boy in a Well is their third album, and second release on Bloodshot Records, outta Chicago. American stuff.

Guess I must like it. I listen to it quite a bit, despite finding it as curious as all fuck. It’s a ‘concept’ album, but put aside the programmatic nature of the lyrics, don’t be distracted by the 34 pages of illustration (by J.D. Wilkes of the Legendary Shackshakers - accomplished, visceral and NSFW), skip the sincere, but inflated label hype (“Boy in a Well is complex; it’s a manically conceived, historically situated, emotionally underscored, plot-driven fictive universe. It’s demented, unpredictable, taboo, ambitious, and yet distinctively cohesive”).
And listen to the music. It has a manic intensity that’s hard to resist, way more powerful than the master thesis gymnastics required to perform critical exegesis. Heck, whatever drummer Noah Shomberg lays down here, driving this unconventional, bass-less trio, is more vital than literary analysis.