They told me that the classics never go out of style but, they do, they do.
Somehow baby, I never thought that we do too.
– “Worms of the Senses”, Refused
In style or not, you’d have to be pampered, tone-deaf guinea pig living in a sheltered hamster-ball-topia with giant wads of cotton stuffed in your ears to not hear the incredible, revolutionary force of the album The Shape of Punk to Come by the Swedish group Refused.
If you were trying to organize your record collection by putting them in labelled boxes sorted by genre, I don’t think you could do it. Listening to The Shape of Punk to Come, it’s pretty obviously punk, but there’s more. It’s got the angsty, blood-curdling, empowering screams and heavy, rhythmic power chords that every good hardcore band should have, but there’s also flavors of experimentalism that I usually associate with the art rock style of Pink Floyd (did I just commit punk heresy by saying that? Maybe the Velvet Underground instead), taking the listener down from the angry pedestal of rebellion to introspectively reflect upon the same revolutionary, anti-commercial themes through a more level, sober lens. The album features spoken-word poetry, sounds from the streets, electronic music, Eastern European folk, and even some accordion. It seems that the band thought up every musical rhetorical strategy they could use in order to get their message across to the listener on every level possible, appealing to both the radical vigilante and reflective philosopher found in the minds of many music lovers. Continue reading
My neighbors must hate me. If not to my face, then they surely do when the mass of sonic energy rolls across the yard, crossing the boundary into their territory and rattling their walls as rapid tremors run through the ground, causing glass vases to tremble precariously and shaking pictures on the wall so they hang slightly off kilter. But I can’t help it. I need my guitar like children need to eat an entire bucket of candy on Halloween night. It’s an insatiable itch that can only be satisfied by scratching until the skin bleeds raw. Continue reading
David Bowie during the filming of the music video for his “Blackstar”. Photo credit: Jimmy King, September 2015
“News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying…
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there.”
– “Five Years”, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”
When I first heard the news, it didn’t make any sense. There was no way that the star at the center of my solar system could have blinked out of existence — so quickly, without warning. Without it’s gravitational pull, all of my planets flew out of orbit and asteroids collided with moons and made craters so deep that I don’t think they could ever be filled again.
And that’s when I started crying.
David Bowie had left us, late Sunday night, losing contact with ground control forever to drift into deep space and take his place among the stars. Continue reading
There are two kinds of artists in the world: the machines and the rivers; the technically perfect and the free. The machines are masters of precision, each and every note is clear and faultless. Accuracy is a standard and anything that is even the slightest bit less than perfect is failure. Despite all that is in the machine’s perfection, there is something lacking, something intangible that keeps the audience from bursting with joy or being moved to tears. This is where the river excels. Continue reading