In Defense of Stone Temple Pilots

Any popular movement or genre (or sub-genre for that matter) of art or music is bound to spawn imitators.  And those imitators spawn imitators who spawn imitators and so on and so forth, until like a copy of a copy of a copy, the original model is so pale and so degraded that it’s impossible to see how awesome and majestic it once was.  Such was the case with the grunge music scene of the 1990’s whose initial monster acts gave way to wave after wave of cheap knock-off bands, polished turds of which many are still trolling the reunions circuits and bargain bins of Walmarts across the country.  Stone Temple Pilots surfaced during the heyday of the second wave, and while they sold millions of records, the band was critically derided and often criticized as aping a sound that did not belong to them.  While those comparisons and critiques were justified in the beginning (and at the end), the group grew organically over their subsequent releases, culminating in two excellent albums that stand out as some of the best music of the genre and the decade, rivaling much of the work of their predecessors.

Some Best-Of Albums from 2013 You May Not have Thought Of

Lists are popping up all over the internet, as they always do in December, a nonstop onslaught of opinions, items, films, music, and art ranked for your easy consumption and delight.  Being a music guy, i too succumb to the unwitting desire to tell the masses what i think of albums and songs that come out year after year after year.  But, i’m not necessarily doing that here (for those, head over to heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com).  Instead, here are some random albums (compilations, reissues, new soundtracks. and free online mixtapes) that i think deserve your attention…and maybe your dollars too.  And so…

Some Notes on Making a Mixtape

mixtapeTime is moving faster.  Or, at least I perceive that it’s moving faster.  It’s because I’m getting older, or because collectively our culture is nearing its inevitable end.  As postulated by deep thinkers and sci-fi writers alike, time is a fluid thing, and it’s moving in a circular fashion as if down a drain, going faster and faster as it gets closer to the center (the end).  Days, weeks, months, years pass in a blur.  Seconds, minutes, and hours fly even faster.  It wasn’t so long ago that I was unmarried, that I was single, that I was a college student, a high school student, in grade school, an infant.  The days were huge and expanding.  I had an eternity.  All activities were simple specks of time and space strewn out before me.

Joup Interview: Patrick Tape Fleming of ‘Gloom Balloon’.

My sneeze echoed off the funeral home, reminding me I was still alive on the night Lou Reed died. Recently I’ve been given to checking out the heavens. Kicking the tyres on the sky. Sometimes when I see that white-hot sun burning through fast moving cloud in a cold sky, I wonder what would happen if my life’s console was compromised, deleting all you NPCs and leaving just me.

Me and that accusative-looking cyclopic sun.

Underrated: Faith No More’s “King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime”

faithnomoreEveryone knows Faith No More for their absolutely massive hit “Epic” from 1989’s “The Real Thing.”  The band’s mix of metal, rap, and funk struck a nerve in both metal heads and pop scenesters alike.  It was everywhere.  Radio.  MTV.  There was even a mild controversy over the video’s use of a fish flopping and gasping out of water.  Then came 1992’s “Angel Dust.”  While eclectic and influential, the record did not perform near as well as its predecessor.  Hardcore FNM fans touted it as a masterpiece (which it is), but the fair weather fans and masses jumped ship along with lead guitarist Jim Martin.  With Mike Patton now becoming the more principal song writer, the band began to drop some of the rap-metal and glam rock that had propelled them to stardom in the first place.  Replacing it was more experimentation and forays into progressive rock.

Record Review: Midlake – Antiphon

image courtesy of Midlake.net

The first time I heard Midlake was 2007’s The Trials of Van Occupanther. There was something about the way it so effortless evoked the tone of music from the seventies that both unnerved and impressed me. And let me clarify – it wasn’t simply that songs like Young Bride, Roscoe and Branches emulated the instrumentation or affectations of what I’ve heard on the radio my entire life from that era, it was more the sense that all of those nameless, hazy musical backdrops of my early life – rides in the car, parties at relatives’ houses, grainy television themes – had created this kind of archetypal residue in the foundations of my memories for those early, developmental years and these guys were somehow able to tap directly into those experiences by their choice of chord progressions, vocal melodies and arrangements.

Album Review: Polvo ‘Siberia’

Polvo_Siberia_LP_11183Of all the recently reunited 90s Alt Rock outfits, the lesser spotted Polvo stake a more valid claim than most to a second stab at existence, having not really been paid their dues the first time around. Unlike most reunions, Polvo’s wasn’t necessarily fuelled by a groundswell of born again devotees voting with their feet for reappraisal, and it might just be this lack of expectation that has them sounding like no time at all has passed between their demise in 1998 and their reformation a decade later. Despite some deceptively pedestrian Indie distortion slinging, the woozy cephalopodic tremolo and angle grinding of Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski’s intermingling riffs fray at the ends with non sequiturs that distort the space and time signatures of Brian Quast’s beats and Steve Popson’s humming undercurrent.

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