Sorry for the lapse, there. I’m on vacation and I have had some family health issues to deal with in the last couple weeks. But we’re here to celebrate the gift of rock n’ roll, and what better way to do that than with a podcast featuring your friend and mine, Divided Heaven singer Jeff Berman. Buy Jeff’s new album here and listen to the podcast here.
On “Selling Out” and Why You Sound Like A Fucking Idiot
In 1967, seminal rock band the Who released an album entitled The Who Sell Out. The cover depicted guitarist Pete Townshend applying an oversized stick of Odorono deodorant and singer Roger Daltrey bathing in a tub of Heinz baked beans, company logos both prominently displayed in each photo. The cover, an obvious middle finger to those who questioned the band’s motives for playing rock n’ roll, is a stark reminder of a time when it was perceived as vile for a band to do anything strictly for the money. Obviously, the Who took that and turned it on its’ head, but in subsequent years with the rise of punk and metal, “selling out” became a big deal.
OK, so to boil it down to its’ most basic core, people usually cry “sell out “ when a band is perceived as doing something for increased fame or monetary value. The best example would be the hissy fit that punks throw when a band signs to a major label (or even a big indie), but the example that is driving me nuts today is the outrage I have seen online about California hardcore legends Terror participating in this year’s Warped Tour. For some reason, when you’re young and you first discover alternative music, you’re very defensive over it. We’ve all been there. You love a band, your friends find out about them, you lose interest in them or outright decry them as sellouts. It’s stupid, it’s childish and it happens to everyone.
While I find it funny that elitists tend to overlook the fact that the Sex Pistols were assembled boy band style by a corporation and that even the Ramones aren’t above shilling for Converse, I will admit that I may have a different view on selling out if I were 15-20 years older. It meant a different thing then. It meant changing your sound or style. It meant compromise. That’s fine. I’m willing to let that be. The problem is that kids are still bitching about bands “selling out” in 2014. Here’s why this needs to stop.
If “selling out” is the compromising of your art for monetary gain, why are the bands you call sellouts (Like Terror) not swimming in rivers of gold somewhere? Oh yes of course, because you don’t pay for their fucking music. If you download illegally, you forfeit the right to complain about what tours bands take or whether or not their music is in a commercial for Taco Bell (Hi Fake Problems!). If you aren’t going to support a band by buying their record, they’re going to have to outsource to pay rent. And don’t give me that “I go see them live so it evens out” shit. Do you know what it costs to print merch? Get flights and transportation for a band and crew? Pay a crew? Hotels, meals, etc. It all adds up to a mid-level band not taking very much home from a tour. Scraping by doesn’t sound like much of a sellout life, does it?
The modern music fan, especially in punk and metal, is a spoiled, thankless little brat who needs everything handed to them instantly and jumps to a keyboard to complain every time a band gains a little bit of a foothold in the scene. Instead of saying “Yes! I love that band, I’m glad their music is in this Doritos commercial so other people will find out about them, buy their album and improve their quality of life” you go puke your guts out on some message board about how they “used to be a great band with integrity.” Fuck you. If you cared about music, you’d support the people that make it.
Addressing an artist as a “sellout” in 2014 rubber stamps you as a teenage waste of life who has no idea how the world actually works. Why do you care what label puts out the record you’re not going to buy? Why do you give a shit if they’re playing a festival your little sister might want to attend? Because you’re an idiot and you have no grasp of how difficult it is to make a living off of art. Instead of sitting at home bitching about how many people know about this band you found out about first, why don’t you go see that band the next time they come through town and enjoy the fact that the show is 5x bigger. Enjoy that the people that write the songs you love can pay rent and buy groceries. Enjoy being in a room full of people who are there for the same reason you are. Stop being so fucking grim all the time and have fun with life. You won’t be 16 forever.
This summer I started an affair with a website called PirateBay. It was mutually beneficial. I, a poor recent college grad who had downloaded music only legally (shocking, I know, but true), was seduced by this beast with everything I could ever want. Every album I could think of, it was there. Queens of the Stone Age catalogue? Easy. Some strange Radiohead singles? Sure. An underknown live album recorded at Max’s Kansas City by The Velvet Underground where in between songs you can hear Jim Carroll, the famous teen junky poet, ask someone about where to score some drugs? There’s no way that could be there right? But it was. And it was as easy as one click.
To say I fell into the vast abyss of PirateBay is an understatement. Most of my time I spent shocked at how much I could actually find and how open and easy everything was to grab and how many people took part in this. I would look in disbelief as people commented on the quality of the link and I realized the comment chain could be thousands of people long. This blew me away.
For some reason, I had lived with the idea that while people did download illegally that there was not that many people doing it. I remembered arrests of people who downloaded illegally, the faces put to this crime. It didn’t seem like an important thing and it made it seem to me that a warning had been sent. But no one had bothered to listen it seemed but me, according to these thousand people long chain of messages, and now I had become one of them.
In due time the luster that shined so brightly when I started with PirateBay started to fade. I realized that the more I dug the more I was taking from tinier bands and labels where every dollar has its meaning. And then I looked at my bank account and realized I had been pushing it too far. I could feasibly have bought all of the albums I downloaded. Guilt set in. That band I liked that had a guitar break due to an airlines bad handling or had a busted van or a something stolen would have had my ten dollars to put toward buying new things and getting back on the road to, what I took too long to realized, support their own life.
I’ve slowly started to buy the albums I downloaded for free. Amazon has been dealing with me a decent amount lately and I’ve gotten a few hard copies as well. It’s a strange feeling to walk into a store to buy an album that I already have sitting on my computer at home. And while I wasn’t losing any sleep over downloading these albums (many of the artists seem to encourage it these days) it feels a hell of lot nicer to know your money is feeding that artist their lunch and pushing them forward another day. And while not every cent may go to the artist, it is a good way of saying thank you. To the guy who made your CD. To the manager that discovered your artist. To the producers. To the engineers. To all of the people involved who put that shiny disc in your hand or file on your computer. That very same file or disc that may get you through a break-up or make you look at someone differently and soundtrack the summer you fell in love.
All of those worth well more than ten dollars.
Show Review: Dave Hause at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. 12/25/13
After a loooong night out in New Jersey with my friends in Let Me Run and the Scandals, I made the trek up north to Burlington, Vermont in what was apparently an effort to drive myself completely bat shit insane by covering over 830 miles and 13 hours of driving in a 48 hour period. When I arrived in Burlington, I was tired as fuck and not really in the mood for rock n’ roll, but it didn’t take long into the show for me to snap out of it.
The man that unwittingly orchestrated said snapping was named Matt Goud, and he plays guitar and sings under the moniker Northcote. Having never heard Matt’s music before and being exhausted, I tried to time my dinner so I would miss his set and not be in the club any longer than I had to be. Luckily, the show started late and I was forced to catch him. I’m glad I did. Goud seems like your friendly, awkward friend who blossoms when given an artistic outlet of some kind. With a guitar in his hands and an easy smile, Goud deftly cruised through a set of the kind of folky earnestness you’d expect out of someone opening for Hause. Hooky, warm and delightful set. And he’s Canadian so you know he was polite as fuck in between songs.
Hause took the stage shortly thereafter amidst what was honestly a pretty obnoxious and overblown intro track for a dude like him. Despite some embarrassing attendance (there were maybe 30 people there, Burlington is so hit or miss crowd-wise), Hause seemed jovial enough upon taking the stage. After coasting through a few songs off his most record, Devour, Hause said “OK, what do you guys want to hear?” This question led into a stunning rendition of “Time Will Tell,” off his Resolutions album and a pretty funny back and forth with the crowd over whether or not he’d been to Burlington before (He had, opening for the Bouncing Souls).
Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about Devour and I really didn’t know what to expect going into this but hey, $10 ticket, right? It was a fucking great set. He sounded incredible, and actually played electric more than acoustic; a decision I thought odd at first but fell in line with by the 3rd song. Throughout, Hause was occasionally accompanied by his younger brother Tim, who added flourishes of piano, guitar and some harmonizing here and there for good measure. He pulled out not one but TWO Loved Ones songs (“The Bridge” and “Jane”) and Northcote came out and jammed on “Prague” with the Hause boys, adding some well timed handclaps and backup vox, as well as that age old Canadian exuberance.
In true Dave Hause fashion, the encore wasn’t really an encore. He skipped the rockstar, walking offstage bullshit and just ripped out 2 more songs. It seemed like by the time the last notes of “C’Mon Kid” were ringing out through the bar, he had already made his way back to the merch table, where he proceeded to shake hands and say hi to everyone that made it out. On a freezing cold Sunday night in January when only a handful turned up to the show, when the man might have just wanted to have a beer and go to bed, Hause stood at the back and signed autographs and shot the shit with the good people of Burlington. Class act, that guy.
What Does Your Open Mic Cover Choice Say About You?
Ah, the college open mic. For those of us who have attended an institution of higher learning, you have probably been dragged to one of these things. There always seems to be some cute guy or girl down the hall who wants you to go watch them play acoustic guitar in front of strangers in a dimly lit room somewhere on campus, or a local band who plays every single one of these things because hey man, a gig’s a gig.
During my tenure as a staff writer for my college newspaper, I was forced to go to a lot of these things. They were always long, awkward, horrible and almost completely devoid of anything even remotely entertaining. Worst of all, at a small school it’s really difficult to write honestly about open mics because you see these people EVERY DAY. After having seen about 456 open mics, however, I figured out there are really only a few types of people that do these things, and their song choice usually gives away their personality to a t.
Oasis – “Wonderwall” – You just started playing guitar within the last 2 years, and this was the first song you learned. You fucking nailed it at that bonfire at Jenny’s house last summer and she totally let you get to second base after. You probably think this is a Ryan Adams song. You’re inexplicably wearing sunglasses.
Goo Goo Dolls – “Slide” – You think your imitation of Johnny Rzenik’s Buffalo-bred rasp will cause an unstoppable pussy avalanche the second you put down that 6 string. You make eye contact with girls while you belt out “What you feel is what you are and what you are is beautiful.”. You hear some asshat in the 3rd row say “Does that guy even go here anymore?” No, you don’t. You’re 28.
Any Jack Johnson song – You’re playing 2 sets today, you lucky dog. First the early show at open mic and later at 2 a.m. in Matt’s kitchen while you try to attract attention to yourself by singing over the music coming from the iHome that people are actually trying to listen to. You keep getting so many gigs! You must be great. You’re wearing sandals. It’s January.
Any Ani DiFranco song – Why do people always think you’re a lesbian? Can’t a girl race over to open mic from her feminist lit class and pick gently at an acoustic without OH FUCK MY DREADLOCKS GOT CAUGHT IN MY TUNING PEGS AGAIN. Jeez, sorry for yelling and harshing the vibe. Womyn can sing too goddammit!
The Lumineers – “Ho Hey” – You got dressed up for this open mic, didn’t you? But you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard. Are the suspenders too much? The bowler hat? Anyway, this should go over much better than the time you played a Mumford & Sons song, as M&S are posers and the Lumineers are obvious tr00 Diet Folk. You are deep and sophisticated. You are a rebel. You still can’t grow stubble but that would really complete this outfit.
“Wagon Wheel” – This song has been covered so many fucking times in the last 5 years, it actually feels weird to attach Old Crow Medicine Show’s name to it. If you cover this song at any event for any reason, you are a fucking douche bag of such epic proportions, the English language is too limited for me to properly illustrate it here. Instead of going to open mic to cover “Wagon Wheel,” why don’t you do something more constructive like make a LEGO castle, stare at a ship in a bottle, do battle with a Where’s Waldo book or engage in a sex act with a Jacuzzi jet. Fucking “Wagon Wheel?” “Wagon Wheel?!?!” Are you fucking serious?!
Dave Grohl once said
“I don’t belive in guilty pleasures, I believe you should be able to like what you like. If you a like a fucking Ke$ha song, listen to fucking Ke$ha.”
The most recent playlist I’ve put together to use while driving has artists on it ranging from Sam Cooke, Merle Haggard, Springsteen, Kendrick Lamar, an EDM mash up of the same Kendrick Lamar song, The Pogues, and various WWE entrance songs(specifically The Undertaker’s, that shit rules). If I like a song then, just like Dave Grohl advised me to, I’m going to listen to it. Things can get complicated though when you try to introduce the songs you like to someone else.
I had a co-worker at summer camp once that would carry around a portable I-pod station to play music for the campers. His musical tastes were top 40 mixed with acoustic versions of top 40. One day I got him to look up some acoustic Gaslight Anthem songs. I did this because 1. I love those songs, and was excited to introduce them to someone who hadn’t heard them before, and 2. I just really, really fucking wanted to stop listening to this song.
He got about halfway through Senor and the Queen before telling me it wasn’t really, “the type of stuff I’m into.” And these guys came back.
Outwardly I just shrugged, inwardly I got incredibly defensive and thought, “The fuck did you just say? You like the Black Eyed Peas, the corn syrup of the music industry, but you don’t like this? ” For the rest of that day I thought about Dave’s quote, and here’s where the difficulty of that quote comes into play. My co-worker was into some bands that I wasn’t, whatever, that’s his deal. It was easy for me to not really care what he liked to listen to…until he rejected something I listened to. It was much harder to let him not like what I listened to.
I’m not a music critic. I can’t listen to a band and grade them on the merits of their technical skills, or lack there of. I, like almost everyone else I know, just listen to the songs they like for whatever reason, and as I listen to those songs I go on living my life. That’s where the trouble came from with my co-worker. The songs I gave him to listen to were songs that I LOVED, songs that I had listened to a lot while going on and living my life. The result of which was that in addition to their chords and lyrics those songs were intertwined with the memories of the experiences I had had while listening to them.
A recent example of this for me is this past fall I was going to through some personal stuff, some real Dashboard Confessional shit and I had just found a live version of Chuck Ragan’s Get What You Give that was in heavy rotation on my car’s stereo. It’s impossible for me to hear that song now and not remember how I felt a little less shitty when I was singing along with it in my car. The songs that I love, truly love, are like that. They have memories of people, emotions, and experiences woven into them, but it’s important to remember that the songs didn’t come with them built in.
When my co-worker listened to Senor and the Queen, he heard the music, and decided that, “Hey, not for me.” I can question his tastes, but I realized it’s not something to be offended about. The song for me is personal, but his decision of not liking was not. I whole-heartedly agree that people should listen to what they like, but I thinks it’s equally important to be cool with it when they don’t like what you like.
Thanks brother/sister! Good things coming down the pipe for us over here. Keep your eyes peeled. Appreciate the kind words.
Hi. We are going to have a couple quiet days around here via me and Alex driving 800 miles across the whole northeast and getting a little loose with some of our best friends. Let Me Run and the Scandals tomorrow night in New Jersey followed by Dave Hause in Vermont on Sunday. I’ll have write ups on these events, plus a podcast, plus a couple other pieces written by some people I love a lot within the next week. Things are heating up at GBC and brings me all the joy in the world to see my baby growing into such a lovely being. See you out there.
I suppose at the outset of this article, being my first, I should make one thing clear. I would be best defined, by every sense of the definition, a mystic. I have been captivated wholly by the taboo and occult practices found across the globe, fully devoted to uncovering the forgotten knowledge they hold about society, history and the nature of consciousness. Whatever it was that has brought me to this point in my life, it has created a need for me to see medias cross boundaries into something completely new and transformative. This is what Cult of Fire has managed to do.
Some time ago, I was standing in a crowded living room celebrating before Ben’s wedding and was just drunk enough to think that his straightedge brother would like to hear my theories on dark, Indian holy music and black metal. After pointing out the “Heaviness” that can be found in Bhagavan Das’ album “Love Songs to the Dark Lord” (2008, Nutone) it led to a rather enlightening conversation on what it is to write evil or dark metal. I know what you are thinking, “Another band making a pretentious approach at incorporating eastern culture into their music…”. Well before you start puking in your cynical cap; this isn’t some Art-Metal/Avant-Garde/Hipster Black metal project. These guys know what the fuck they are doing AND saying. Acetic Meditation of Death a.k.a. मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान, released by Iron Bonehead in November of this past year, is likely one of the most overlooked and undervalued albums of 2013.
The left hand path means different things to different people depending on your tradition. On a very basic level, I would be considered a practitioner of this path to some extent. Anarchism, Occultism and generally doing things that are to the mainstream socially taboo would land me there. To the Christian tradition, it’s the worship and collusion with Satan. To Cult of Fire, it’s Aghora.
In eastern philosophy, Karma is the ruling law which traps you in Samsara, or the cycle of birth and death. Karma isn’t a bitch like most Facebook memes would lead you to believe with a touch of sparkly stars, but rather an immutable law of cause and effect, a law of attachment. If you are greedy, you will likely suffer the karmic costs of that attachment forever, through many life times until it is overcome. To follow the left hand path in the Vedic Tradition is far more terrifying than your run of the mill Satan worshippers. It’s to fully submit to self destruction, to give into all vices and vile behavior in order to free yourself of your fear and repulsion of it. That is the left hand worship of Shiva’s destructive form, Kali. It is better known and greatly misunderstood as Tantra in the west, and it is also the fastest way, for those who are unprepared to lose their minds and possibly their lives if they do not follow it virtuously.
Acetic Meditation of Death comes across as any other black metal album would at first listen, fast, dark, visceral. Lets face its, it’s from a group of Czech dudes who’s first album was all about Chernobyl meltdown and the devastation of an entire city. Things change once you see its cover art. David Glomba, whose work has been seen on albums by Evil, Tortorum and Inferno, nailed the concept, particularly for the Vinyl Gate. Kali, surrounded by all methods of torture and destruction, spewing fire and occupying solar space as if she were a planet. Then you read the titles, well, you put them into Google translate or look them up to read them (assuming you only speak English) and see titles like, “On the Funeral Pyre of Existence” and “Burned by the Flame of Divine Love”. The album opens with rhythmic chanting and sitar, as foreboding guitars drone in to fill the empty space. They manage to capture polyrhythms between the melody carried by the guitars, sitars and the beats of the drums and strumming patterns. It becomes a rather dark, soundscape which breaks and dives straight into more traditional black metal, only to return to the beginning rhythms giving a cohesive feel to the opening track. Layers of Tantric Chanting can be heard across the album as well. This isn’t just your average bullshit; chant something, hell, chant anything if it sounds cool. These are traditional Shaivite chants. Like I said, these guys did their homework. Their singer, Devilish, had this to say about their album; in true Aghoric fashion I might add.
“मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान is for me the most complex and deepest work of art that we have to date created. It’s homage to the Goddess Kali, the Aghoris, the funeral rites in India and its close surroundings. The approach of these people to certain aspects of life and religion itself is fascinating. During the composition of this album I was constantly thinking, dreaming, meditating, brought myself almost to a frenzy state, watched documentaries, read books, met people who visited this country, studied, listened to the mantras and tried to spiritually penetrate into this religion. My thoughts and spiritual revelations are being enhanced by the atmosphere of strong Opium, many other kinds of scents, tastes and the surrounding of myself with hinduistic relics allowed me to enter and soak in this atmosphere and create by that the music and the whole concept of this work of art, which will affect also the logo and band image.”
The album, much like the Goddess it was dedicated, covers a vast expanse of space and time. I mean that both literally and figuratively. Its mood, patterns and also bizarre and creepy black metal/hippie sounds create almost a total picture of Kali and who this band has now defined themselves as. It is a new take on the typical observance of death in music through the scope of Indian tradition. For those looking for a departure of the overplayed, “Hail Satan” metal mentality and want something a bit more well-thought and creative, for those looking for a fresh take on Eastern music and Metal, or those just looking for a mind feast with one of the coolest Goddesses around, check out this album.
- Ryan Kinghorn
Lyte, Funky & Underrated: One Man’s Love Affair With A Forgotten American Treasure
Today I woke up with a “George Bush at Yale” sized hangover. After stumbling/falling out of bed and drinking out of the showerhead while washing the previous night off of my body, I was struck with the kind of wisdom that can only come from the after-affects an evening of binge drinking and getting in a fight with a 15 year old on a Fall Out Boy messageboard: LFO’s sophomore LP Life is Good is the most underrated record of all time.
Now, before the hordes cry foul and vote to get Microsoft Word taken off of my laptop, realize that I will fully engage in hand to hand combat with you if you disagree with me, and, given the number of jiu jitsu instructional videos I have watched on YouTube, that would be a foolish decision on your part. Shut up and listen. On a hot June day in 2001, yours truly was driven by his loving mother to the Radio Shack downtown so I could purchase the new blink-182 album. While I was there, I saw a fresh copy of Life is Good staring back at me. I remembered wistful times a couple summers before, jamming “Summer Girls” and “West Side Story” on my cassette Walkman while dreaming of having frosted tips and gaining the ability to simultaneously perform in depth choreography while singing into a headphone mic. “Those were the good ole days,” I thought to myself before plunking down the $31.95 for boths CD’s (SHIT WAS EXPENSIVE DOG).
Back in my mother’s car, I looked down at my Hurley t-shirt, Sharpie’d fingernails, nautical star arm bands and Dickies’ shorts and wondered if I had made a foolish purchase. I couldn’t get that allowance back. This was the first time I remember feeling like I had a guilty pleasure. After all, being PuNx As FuCk and leaving Sum 41 lyrics in your AOL away messages while owning an LFO CD is the music lover’s version of telling your wife you “stayed late at work” so you can go to the Asian part of town and have some 19 year old Vietnamese girl tie you to a weight bench and beat you with a riding crop. Think about it. I’m right.
All those feelings, however, were quickly washed away when I popped Life is Good into my Discman. There was no denying those songs. The title track reaffirmed that life was, in fact, good (not like those emo pussies in blink) and “28 Days” made me miss the girlfriend I wouldn’t have for another 2 years so badly it hurt (while at the same time making the phrase “oopsie daisy” sound hard as fuck).
And Rich Cronin. That dude, may he rest in peace, did it all. He sang, he rapped, he had pecs. He was Man personified, in board shorts, no shirt and a tribal armband tattoo. I could never be him, but I allowed him to regale me with tales of pool parties, fast cars and making out with girls with names like Alayna while I sat in my bedroom and wondered why that birthmark on my leg was so dark. Is it cancer? That fucking thing has gotta be filled with cancer. Anyway.
People on this planet fall into one of 3 camps. Camp 1: Posers who talk shit about LFO because they wouldn’t know a good song if it took them to a prom party, fed them 8 Sea Breezes and impregnated them in the back of Honda Civic, only to not show up at the abortion appointment and then try to friend them on Facebook halfway through college. Camp 2: People who really dig LFO’s more commercial, sell out debut record and go “OH I DID SUMMER GIRLS AT KARAOKE THE OTHER NIGHT AND FUCKING BRENDA LAUGHED SO HARD SHE PISSED HER ED HARDY LEGGINGS.” Really?!?! If you’re too lazy to dig into a band’s catalog and find the hidden gems you aren’t really a fan. Camp 3: People like me who don’t suck and still sometimes put on a baby blue bandana and drive around flipping off small children while blaring “Where You Are” (Which is track 8 for the people in the first two camps).
It’s not too late to get into the party in camp 3. You should start by digesting “Every Other Time” because it’s the greatest song on the record. Even 13 years later, the lyric “Sometimes we swim around like 2 dolphins in the ocean of our hears” still makes my the hair on my legs, arms, back, shoulders, neck and feet stand at attention. Once you’ve processed the greatness of that song (Will require at least 17 listens) you can move onto “6 Minutes,” which is sadder than Elton John’s “Daniel” and Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” combined. You thought “Girl on TV” was a sad LFO song? Get ready to cry like someone from South Carolina who just found out Darius Rucker is black. When Cronin sings “Sometimes I wish that I was someone like Brad Pitt, she’d walk right over to me and then she’d say ‘Hey we should split,’” you ache inside that someone so beautiful could ever feel that way about themself. I wish I could have told Cronin before he passed away that Brad Pitt would look like Steve Buscemi standing next to him. Oh well. In another life, Rich.
Buy this record or you’re a fucking idiot.