The Perfect Cover

coversessayCovers are fun. There is something almost magical about listening to someone reinterpret another artist’s blood, sweat, and tears. What did that person get from the song that I didn’t? How will that person tweak and change things to make it his or her own? Will they be reverential of the source material, or breakdown and reassemble the work to make something entirely new? Will I like the covered version better than the original? Or will I feel that some songs are sacred and not to be trifled with? It doesn’t really matter. A good cover can be a fascinating artifact of pop culture, either as a reflection of the times or as something deeply personal to the cover artist. It’s also a wonderful signifier of how transcendent music can be, and how it touches our lives. In a way, it’s just passing down art, and stories, and dreams to the coming generations, a way to live forever. All music and art eventually become part of the cultural zeitgeist, part of the collective ether. It’s a way to communicate with our long lost elders, a bridge to the past, a tie to everything that came before.

Thee Comic Column #109: Southern Bastards Just Blew My Mind

STK652986I dug Jason Aaron and Jason Latour‘s Southern Bastards from the first issue, but only in a very peripheral way. And for the record, I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. It was actually A Voice in the Dark‘s Larime Taylor, back when he guested on Drinking with Comics, that brought Southern Bastards to my attention, and after picking up and reading issue #1 I ear-marked it as a series to follow. A lot of that was based on how striking and original Mr. Latour’s art and colors were, coupled with the fact that I had previously loved Mr. Aaron’s Scalped, a series I unfortunately still have not completed to this day (it’s in the works…). However, as you may have noticed if you read this column there are a lot of series I follow, and in the tide of my weekly stacks – stacks that seem to grow exponentially month by month – Southern Bastards was a book that I bought but didn’t read for the next few months. When I bought issue #4 I finally caught up, and by the end of it I was a little shocked at the direction some things had taken, not even realizing the… um, how to do this without spoilers… severity of what had happened to one of the characters in the book. Until I picked up issue #5 the other day. After reading the first few pages of that one, well, let’s just say my jaw hit the freakin’ ground.

The Joup Friday Album: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

mastodononcemoreroundthesuncdFor almost nine years I have told people in Los Angeles that the fabled LA traffic nightmare everyone considers so dire is actually nothing compared to Chicago traffic. I’ve clung to this statement, scoffing at traffic here in LALA land. For Five of those years it was easy – my daily commute rarely took me on more than about a three mile stint of the 110 Harbor Freeway, all down near its end, where the freeway becomes Gaffey St. Then, in the back half of 2011 I switched jobs and began a three year and counting relationship with the 405 Freeway. Still I clung to the idea that it wasn’t that bad – certainly not as maddening as commuting during rush hour in Chicago. I start work super early in the morning so my morning commute is usually fairly easy, and I get off at 2:30 in the afternoon, so again, for the first two years of this commute I didn’t deal with anything all that bad. Then, about a year ago the commute became noticeably, exponentially worse. 2:30 PM on a Monday or Tuesday usually still isn’t that bad, but Thursday? Friday?

Thee Comic Column #108: Karen Traviss’ G.I.Joe

FallofGIJOEIf you read this column at all regularly you’ve probably heard me talk about Larry Hama’s seminal run on the original GIJOE for Marvel Comics during the 1980’s. You’ll also know that I LOVED Mike Costa’s Cobra/Cobra Files series in all its iterations since IDW picked up the license to coincide with the first Joe movie in 2009. However, with the IDW books, COBRA was where I stopped. There was a regular monthly Joe book as well, one that followed the actual GIJOE team, and there was a Snake Eyes book – love the character but this seemed a bit excessive and in danger of watering down ol’ Snakes – and maybe another book or two at different times. IDW has launched and re-launched a lot of Joe books since 2009 and through it all I breathed deeply and repeated my mantra, “Follow the writer. Follow the writer.” That, along with the fact that they were smart enough to never jettison the carefully plotted continuity they had established over the course of five years, kept me interested.

New Music Enthusiast’s Club: i am Love

i am Love.coverarti am Love – i am Love

Think of all the kids you grew up with.  The ones taking music lessons after school.  The kids tinkering away on the piano, practicing their recitals.  The kids spending their afternoons learning the cello, or the violin, or the trumpet.  The band dorks.  The punk brats making a ruckus in their parents’ garages, banging and strumming away on their beginner’s drum kits and electric guitars.  The younger brothers and sisters rifling through their older siblings’ record collections and singing along in their bedrooms.  Think of those kids gathering together to create music, a circus folk rock troupe with flashes of Americana, post-punk, classic rock, new wave, and the Avant Garde all playing harmoniously like a choir of art school misfits.  A saxophone here.  A viola there.  A grand aural collage of different sounds, textures, instruments, and influences.  How glorious it must be.  And so we have the self-titled debut album from Philadelphia’s i am Love, a collection of pop songs created by a vast array of instrumentation and open, bleeding hearts.

Thee Comic Column #107: Drinking with Yost and Kyle’s New X-men in the Midwest!

86871-18078-105907-1-new-x-menNo, unfortunately this isn’t going to be a post about how I was able to film some segments of Drinking with Comics in Chicago and Dayton, the way I had planned to on my recent trip. However, just because I forgot to bring the proper sound equipment with me and thus didn’t get any usable footage doesn’t mean that I wasn’t drinking good beer and talking comics a large percentage of the time I was there. Chicago especially is where the idea for the show came from – late night parties with my friends where we’d inevitably end up clustered in the kitchen (why always the kitchen?) talking about Teenagers from Mars, Preacher, Sandman and of course debating the value of the superhero franchises at any given moment. It was a long trip – a great trip but seeing as it put me back down in LALAland this past Monday at the tip of an eleven day in-a-row work stretch it has also been an exhausting one. I spent eleven days in Chicago – mostly in the forested south suburbs – and then hitched a Greyhound bus to Dayton, Ohio where I crammed eleven songs with four friends – most of us having never played with each other before – and then did a gig on November 1st – el dia de los muertos. It was a great ride, lots of fun but…

Joup Confessions…

xanaduFact: I have never actually sat down to watch the roller skating musical fiasco that is 1980’s Xanadu.  I have seen bits and pieces and scenes from it, often with my older sister, years and years ago, but I have no real recollection of anything other than light and colors flowing behind roller skating muses.  I understand that the film is supposed to be an abysmal mess, but I like to remember it as a soft-focussed, neon-tinted piece of 80’s kitsch.

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