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Thursday
Sep162004

Crap music reviews (which is to say, music reviews that are crap).

Went to Amoeba yesterday for the first time in more than a year and picked up some new CDs.

-The Charlatans : Tellin’ Stories.
-David Bowie : Jump They Say (single).
-David Bowie : Little Wonder (ltd edition single).
-The Prodigy : Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.

Music probably couldn’t have changed more in the seven years it’s been since The Prodigy released The Fat Of The Land to #1 on the charts (in the same week OK Computerdebuted). The electronica take-over my machine-obsessed sixteen-year-old self was so excited about never got any further than a shitload of similarly-styled film soundtracks and an anemic late-night MTV programming block called Amp. Hip-hop bursted forth from the Earth, slapped the shit out of the ravers and stole all the girls, and that was pretty much the end of that.

We’ve had a few noticeably different sorts of rock phase in and out, particularly Nu-Metal and Emo and now Retro-Rock, or whatever the fuck it’s called. Frankly, I find myself more and more disgusted with each genre-distinction I invoke, but I also find myself lacking the talent to talk about this stuff in any other way, so whatever. Anyway, during this time, soldiers of the electronica non-revolution like Underworld, the Chemical Brothers and Orbital all continued to release great records (well, maybe not Orbital— RIP). Naturally, there’s been a popular aberration here and there, like Moby, Bjork, and (thank you, God) Fischerspooner’s mining and repackaging of electro for the People. Conspicuously absent all this time was The Prodigy.

Unquestionably the loudest and grandest of all electronica acts (although I think Chemical Bros. actually have more hit singles), The Prodigy all but vanished from the spotlight for years at a time, reemerging with only small morsels of activity such as the rerelease of the first album, Experience. However, The Dirtchamber Sessions vol 1was also unleashed upon us during this extended period of nothingness, and it is widely considered to be one of few gems to be found in the limitless dark depths of wankerific DJ mix compilations. If you’re a fan of old school rap and hip-hop, punk, techno, funk, rock and pop, then you should seek out Dirtchamber. It makes excellent party music.

Despite the fierce brilliance of The Dirtchamber Sessions, the most memorable artifact of the Prodigy’s last seven years is probably the spectacularly awful one-off single,Baby’s Got A Temper. The song was just so irretrievably bad, not even its creator— Prodigy mastermind Liam Howlett— could stand it. The reaction to the song seems to have been so negative that it more than anything else expedited the completion of the mythical fourth Prodigy album, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.

As I said, music probably couldn’t have changed more, and the Prodigy know it. We live in a glorious time where a thriving community exists to celebrate virtually any form of dance music (except techno in Los Angeles) and AONO is a meticulously crafted sonic assault vehicle designed to appeal to listeners in all of them. Bizarrely, Howlett achieves this without entirely sucking. Lip-service is often paid to various artists for mashing-up genres, but it’s actually true in Prodigy’s case. Seamlessly blending breakbeat, punk, indie, electro, hip hop and techno, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned would sound at home in any number of club settings, including the puzzingly electronica-disliking electroclash scene. Unlike the very self-aware The Fat Of The Land, AONO all but abandons the notion of the radio single and concerns itself almost exclusively with getting people rocking on the dance floor. Dance music is a notoriously snobby area of music and fandom, and it’s my guess that this approach of Howlett’s was a decision made in direct response to the Baby’s Got A Temper catastrophe. So determined is Howlett to regain the Prodigy’s dance floor credibility, he’s completely left off any trace of fellow Prodigy members Keith “Firestarter” Flint and Maxim “Smack My Bitch Up” Reality (yeah, I know “smack my bitch up” comes from the Ultramagnetic MC’s but I’m quite sure Maxim performed the vocals in the Prodigy version). Instead, Howlett’s recruited a pretty varied platoon of vocalists including Princess Superstar, Twista, The Magnificent Ping Pong Bitches, Kool Keith, Juliette Lewis (yeah, I know, but she does one of the best tracks, “Hotride”), and the Gallagher brothers (Liam and Liam are now brother-in-laws, after all, both having married those two All Saints chicks).

The record sounds as if Howlett has discovered how to use BOOOOOM as an instrument itself. The bass is so heavy on such tracks as “Action Radar” and “Spitfire,” it actually makes my teeth shake. The lead single, “Girls,” seems to be intentionally designed to showcase all the different styles you’ll find on AONO. It’s saying, “You like this? Okay, how about THIS? Now THIS! You want more? Come on in…no, there aren’t any ravers here anymore….” The album continues to genre-hop, but not with the ferocious contrast of “Girls.” If anything, this is really the major downside to it. I wonder if Howlett completed the album and, just for fun, threw everything into one track and came out with “Girls.” I hope he makes more songs like it in the future.

Girls mp3.

Is the record worth a seven year wait? No, absolutely not. I think Howlett may have gone too far out of his way to avoid a catchy tune here and there in favour of pure groove and beats, and I do miss Maxim and Keith (Maxim does return on the b-side “More Girls”). But it’s still a good album, and that it won’t be massive will hopefully prevent Howlett from recoiling under the weight of the world’s expectations and keep him at the keyboards for another release soon.

Monday
Sep132004

The most important thing to happen since 9/11.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3652502.stm

A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner dressed as Batman is staging a protest on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Jason Hatch, 33, entered the grounds and scaled a wall at 1500 BST, said group spokesman Matt O’Connor. A stand-off developed as police cordoned off the area and tried to coax the protester down. Mr O’Connor, Fathers 4 Justice, said: “We’ve got a guy dressed as Batman who’s on Buckingham Palace on a balcony. He legged it past the armed guards.” The protester, from Gloucester, stood on a ledge to the right hand side of the main balcony and unfurled a banner which read “Super dads of fathers 4 justice”. He is believed to have two children, aged four and five, who he has not seen for several years. Also on the banner are the words: “Fighting for your right to your kids”. Fellow protester Dave Pyke, 48, dressed as Batman’s sidekick Robin but was stopped by armed police as he tried to scale the fence. He told BBC News Online: “We are totally untrained, just ordinary guys and if we can get in there, anybody can get in there.”

“He is a very resilient man and he is desperate. He has supplies to last him for several days.”

Andy Khouri: Did they get him down yet??

Nick Locking: He is still safe

Nick Locking: Robin has been arrested, however

Nick Locking: And is in custody

Andy Khouri: Sweet god, this might be the greatest day in this century so far

Nick Locking: hahaha

UPDATE: PALACE SOURCES: Batman wishes to speak to Queen! Batman is on the move, in response to some sort of pneumatic lift they’ve driven in near the incident site. He’s roaming around the shelf a bit. If he falls on live telly it would be the greatest thing ever. If he saved himself with a bat-rope it would be even better.

Andy Khouri: oddly, this reminds me of 9/11

Nick Locking: It’s just as momentous

Andy Khouri: someone ont he V just said Batman took a glass of orange juice from a guard

Nick Locking: Ah, yes

Nick Locking: That seems to be the case

Nick Locking: They won’t be drugging him, he might fall

Andy Khouri: i wish i had TV so i could see if there is any reaction to this in America

Andy Khouri: this is, in my view, the most important world event to occur since the Iraq War

Nick Locking: Naturally

Nick Locking: It’s abit slow in developing, it’s been static for some hours now

Andy Khouri: oh god, what if batman dies

Nick Locking: He’ll RETURN

Andy Khouri: if the Queen has Batman killed…. oh my god

Andy Khouri: the cultural ramifications are incalculable

Andy Khouri: the british people will revolt and destroy their monarchs in the name of an american hero

Nick Locking: Obviously I would support that movement

Andy Khouri: “Get that bitch out! Get her whole fucking ambarrassing inbred cunt family OUT! YOU KLILLED BATMAN! YOU KILLED BATMAN!!”

Andy Khouri: it should be on the news everywhere and for days

Andy Khouri: the royal family, out

Nick Locking: “HOME SECRETARY TO ADDRESS MPS ON INCIDENT TONIGHT”

Nick Locking: I love how important that sounds

Andy Khouri: oh god i would love to be at that meeting

Andy Khouri: “Gentlemen. Last night our defenses were breeched by… the Batman.”

Nick Locking: HAHAHAHAHA

Nick Locking: “Good heavens!” “My word!”

Nick Locking: If the home secretary is a comic fan this is like a dream come true for him

Nick Locking: He could turn up to the meeting dressed as Lex Luthor

Andy Khouri: “Now shut up, the lot of you! Stop panicking like a bunch of girls and listen to me. We’re dealing with a crazy man in a bat suit and that is IT! And we’re going to get him THE FUCK——- DOWN. Not in my palace, God Dammit.”

Nick Locking: “Batman. Darling.”

Nick Locking: Batman should offer to come down if they send a policeman dressed as the Joker in

Nick Locking: Makes sense, media wise

Nick Locking: Better than just sitting there doing sod all all day

Andy Khouri: is he still surrounded? what are the guards doing?

Nick Locking: They’re leaving him alone

Nick Locking: If they tried to strongarm him down, he might fall, which is a worst case scenario

Nick Locking: Batman looks very cold

Nick Locking: He’s blowing into his hands

Andy Khouri: they need to cast this guy as Thomas Wayne

Andy Khouri: THE FATHER

Nick Locking: hahah

Nick Locking: Batman is now chatting to a couple of security types

Nick Locking: Who are presumably trying to cajole him down from his position. Ah, they’re showing Spider_Man now, on top of… something

Nick Locking: Some sort of crane

Andy Khouri: What? Spider-Man is there as well? And he’s got a crane?

Nick Locking: No, this is a previous incident

Nick Locking: There are quite a few instances of superhero-based protest in this country

Nick Locking: Spider-Man climbed the London Eye a while back

Nick Locking: And now they’re showing Spider-Man, Batman, Robin and Superman on top of some sort of bridge.

Nick Locking: WHAT A COUNTRY

Andy Khouri: wow, down my street are people dressed as every major superhero, including Blade, but all the do is walk around for people to take pictures with

Nick Locking: “This is an unbelievable shambles. Batman has made a laughing stock of London and the Met.”

Nick Locking: I have waited all my life to see that on the television

Nick Locking: MET POLICE COMMISSIONER: INCIDENT IS “EMBARASSING”

Nick Locking: If that man is named Gordon I would cry tears of nerd joy.

Nick Locking: NOOO BATMAN IS COMING DOWN!

Andy Khouri: WHAT

Andy Khouri: WHy? howw?

Nick Locking: They took up a lift and he got on

Andy Khouri: they didn’t force him

Andy Khouri: ?

Nick Locking: no

Andy Khouri: they must have his loved ones

Nick Locking: Presumably Robin is being tortured, he is in custody

Saturday
Sep112004

Why I like Los Angeles.

In the last week I…

-did my hair and eyes all crazy, got dressed up in black and gray with hanging suspenders and boots like some kind of steampunk character and went dancing all night in a big beautiful gothic club full of red curtains, candles, smoke and beautiful girls in lace and leather and watched vinyl-assed go-go dancers bump and grind to throbbing EBM and industrial fucking music while I got drunk on glowing blue non-PowerAde® beverages. After-party at the house of some fantastic glamour photographer guy I’ve never met before. Meet new people, have those great “party conversations,” etc.

-cleaned up and went to a trendy yet really fun Hollywood nightspot to drink cocktails and chill and chat and flirt and party and not-talk-business with friends (both old and new) while the DJ spun the pop and hip-hop classics (both old and new).

-danced my ass off to my favourite music at a massive 80s/new wave/electro/indie/rock club surrounded by hundreds of beautiful and sweaty brightly-colored people decked out in full alt-culture regalia.

-went to work on a show at a great indie comedy/improv theatre run by students, amateurs, TV & film actors, managers, agents and civilians; all of whom come to see and do the work (that nobody makes any real money doing) because they just love it.

-drove out to the beach and back just for the fuck of it.

-good friend and i hit an invite-only record release party and performance by a great prog house/techno/breaks/trance/dub group down in Koreatown. Met new people, danced until I could no longer move.

-drove down to Anaheim to have lunch with my dad and god-father and other assorted middle-eastern relations. much political debate and bread-eating took place.

-drove out to the beach and back just for the fuck of it, again.

-chilled at home and ate delivered Brazilian cuisine while a couple other friends came over to watch Trekkies 2 and tell stories.

-saw a hilarious show by a comedy troupe from Cleveland that included jokes and sketches about shaking babies, suicidal meteorologists, NAMBLA, and Cobra Commander.

Hell, the only thing I didn’t do this week was go out to dinner or down to Long Beach and do the karaoke thing with my friends there. .

What I’m trying to illustrate is that Los Angeles affords me the freedom to do pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want, in whichever aspect of society I happen to be feeling at that moment. I’m not saying this makes LA better or worse than any other place, but having options is critically important to me, and Los Angeles provides limitless possibilities without the claustrophobia (and shitty parking) of New York or the bizarre socio-political narrowness (and even shittier parking) of San Francisco.

Not to digress but there is something about San Francisco I have never been able to understand, and let me start by saying that I love San Francisco. Despite the fact that I always get some kind of stomach bug whenever I’m there, I always have a great visit and know lots of cool people there. But you cannot go for a single DAY in San Francisco without hearing about how much Los Angeles sucks. Not a DAY. You can go for weeks in Los Angeles without even hearing the words “San Francisco,” and when you do it’s usually about how nice it is to visit there. For a people who’re known for being the most open-minded and accepting of Americans, the San Franciscans are cocks about LA.

(My mom says it’s because they’re jealous that they stopped being the major financial headquarters of the west coast in the middle of the last century, when United California Bank moved to what became downtown Los Angeles and became First Interstate.)

I’ll always remember a visit to Boston I made before I actually moved there. My friend Kendall and I were standing around in one of underground T stops waiting for a train when a Hari Krishna came up to us (when I say “Hari Krishna,” think “white dude who went to India for a summer”). After utterly failing to sell us any of his books, he asked Kendall and I where we were from. When I said Los Angeles, he actually said “Oh, sorry.”

Let’s just forget for a moment that (IIRC) the Hari Krishna movement started in Los Angeles, but how rude is that shit? He went on to lecture us about how ignorant and closed-minded we were and that we needed to travel and learn things about the world around us or be doomed to live forever as unenlightened swine. Naturally, he was mightily embarrassed and outed as a poser cocksucker when confronted with the combined list of places Kendall and I’d actually lived (as opposed to visited) up to that point, which included Bejing, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Seoul. But what makes people do that? “Oh, sorry.” Christ!

Anyway.

For better or for worse, Los Angeles is not “just” or “only” anything, and that greatly appeals to me. I’m not at all interested in routine, especially when it concerns my rapidly waning early-20s. I happen to love doing lots of different things with lots of different people, and this is where I can do that without even the slightest bit of resistance. I cannot stress enough how essential this is to my happiness.

Decent parking is perhaps slightly more essential.

Tuesday
Jul272004

I don't want your money, I just want to suck your dick.

The following is simply borrowed from Dennis Culver's journal, spelling errors and all.

True strangeness came as Andy and I were leaving the bar.

On his car was a note that said “ANUBIA” with a phone number. Andy and I being drunk decided, what the hell, and gave it a call. No answer. So we kept driving with Del Taco in mind and the phone rings. It’s Anubia. She infomrs andy she is having a sex party and wants us to meet her. So, desciptions were offered, I was handed the phone to explain that no, we did not have money on us and robbing us and possiblyt murdering us would not be cool. She told me she didn’t want my money but wanted to blow me. So laughing, I say ok and she tells us to meet her on Walnut and Cherry. Andy and I decide we should call Sam in case we are murdered from this episode and leave what I am sure is an amazing voicemail. We park at the shopping center and call Anubia. She says she will meet us and she is wearing all pink. We decide standing next to the car is a bad idea incase thugs come up and want to jack us. So we’re standing across the street on the corner and several people walk by, obviously not Anubia and then this girl walks by, short skirt, boots, but obviopusly a dude, and I am like “hey that’s a dude” but she says nothiung and I am like Anubia? but no response. We wait a bit more and no one is coming and my cell rings and it is anubia. And she is like I was just there but my roommates are home now so no sex party. I am like wait you were just here? Andy is dying laughing and I tell her hey we should party and she is like oh yeah, one thing, I am a crossdresser. So I’m like yeah we’re not down for that and we go to Del Taco.

MOST HILARIOUS THING EVER.

To be clear, Andy and I were not going to do some random strangers unless you know Supermodels were pouring out of a van, however we were willing to risk our lives to see what would happen.

YAY booze.

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