Why I hate Mumford and Sons

Hate is such a strong word, I know. Meh.

And I’ve gone on about this and sorry but I have no one to rant at the moment, so I’ll do it  here.

Oh, and I’ll make it quick, promise.

My musical roots lie primarily in Austin. A solid niche of said music was rock and roll inspired Bluegrass.

The Bad Livers did boot-stompin’, moonshine distillin’, sister fuckin’ Appalachian Hills mothafucka! versions of punk anthems like this:

Of course there were the Gourds who weren’t quite so raw and perhaps relied a little more on pop song structure than the Bad Livers,  but they still stayed true to the spirit of the backwoods rather than Hollywood, despite what the Snoop cover may imply.

And to save my personal favorite for last (mainly because I consider them all at least more than casual acquaintances and due to a crush on the singer that has persisted for the good part of 20 years) were the Meat Purveyors (formerly the Texas Meat Purveyors, but I think there was something about a cease and desist order from a company by that name).

The clips a bit promo-y and doesn’t give you a full song, sorry, but the quality is good. Here’s one from the Hole in the Wall.

And that’s why I hate Mumford & Sons. Commercialized mainstream pap for the masses waiting for the spoon-feeding. Just like contemporary Country, but that’s another matter altogether.

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5 Creepy Songs

Pop Culture

I ain’t drinkin’ no mo’, so I thought I’d be productive – if writing a ridiculous blog post consisting primarily of others’ work can somehow be considered “productive.”

This subject has been banging around in my head for a while, probably since the first time I heard the #1 song on the list (Uh-uh! No fair skipping ahead!). And while I’m sure I’ve missed a tune or a gazillion here, and I will probably do more on this subject, the top spot will always belong to the song I have placed there.

No matter what.

5). R Kelly – Trapped in the Closet – A first glance at the title makes one assume Kelly is professing his battle with homosexuality. But no, he’s just re-solidifying the fact that he’s a creep that can’t keep it in his pants for whatever biological reason is imperative at the time.

But R. Kelly wasn’t content to just be a creep with this song, he had to unleash what is quite possibly the most self-indulgent piece of crap I have ever been subjected to on the rest of the world.

4). Eminem – My Fault – How do you accidentally give someone mushrooms? And when you do, what do you say? “Shiitake! Those weren’t crimini!” Or would it be: “Crimini! Those weren’t shiitake!” Sorry, I’ll stop.

Plus, I’m pretty sure no one involved in the filming of this video has ever taken ‘shrooms. I’VE never seen the world warp and contort like that. Then again, I’ve never eaten 22 caps at once. No shit she’s freaking out. And possibly dead.

3). New Order -1963 – From Wikipedia: “According to the band’s lyricist, Bernard Sumner, the song is about the JFK assassination, which occurred in 1963. In the song, Sumner sings from the point of view of Jackie Kennedy, and theorises that John F. Kennedy (a devout Catholic for whom divorce was unthinkable) paid the mobster Jack Ruby to arrange for a hitman to take out his wife so that he could continue his relationship with actress Marilyn Monroe.[citation needed] It further theorises that Monroe committed suicide when she found out that the hired gun, Lee Harvey Oswald, had hit the wrong target. Oswald was, according to Sumner, then in turn assassinated by Ruby for causing his hitman business to go bust.

“Sumner’s theory is unlikely to be intended seriously, given that Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, over a year before the assassination took place.”

So despite the title, the antagonist’s name and Bernard Sumner’s insistence that it does, I find no contextual evidence that this song has anything to do with the Kennedy assassination. It sounds more like an argument that sociopaths shouldn’t be allowed to own guns no matter what the 2nd amendment says. That poor lady (Jackie O. or no); this song is the 80s equivalent of a made-for-Lifetime movie. And catchy as hell. Just don’t sing it out loud at work, there’s a good chance your cohorts will look at you with pity and fear for the rest of your sojourn at the job.

2). Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – The Mercy Seat – Spiritual conflict, murder and a stay on Death Row with no hope of reprieve are reasons enough that this song is creepy. But, really, it’s just the song itself. There’s something about the hopelessness in the protagonist’s beseechments to a seemingly uncaring Almighty, as well as the “industrial ghetto” feel of the whole damn song that ranks it so high on my spine-tingling scale.

1b). Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra – Some Velvet Morning Face it, this song is about a drunken pedophile/rapist just waiting for his chance with innocent (or maybe retarded?) Phaedra. Don’t argue with me. Yes, it is.

1a). Lydia Lunch and Rowland S. Howard – Same song, but the two artists doing it up the creepy factor to the nth degree. Brrrrrrrrr. And yipes.

Well, that’s it for this round. Send suggestions for the next installment, but “Some Velvet Morning” will always be #1.

Comic and Fantasy art icon Moebius dead at 73

Pop Culture

When I first started buying comic books, the only outlet I had was the local convenience store (which shows my age, when is the last time you saw a comic book rack at a 7-11). Moebius was one of those elusive names mentioned infrequently in letter pages; he was a huge influence to many of the artists I liked, but the only way to get your hands on his stuff was to go to a comic specialty shop, which was too far for me to go on bicycle, so he remained an enigma for many years. When I finally gained exposure to his illustrations, I was floored. “This is where P. Craig Russell is coming from,” I thought to myself.

Moebius was one of the few geniuses that could tell an entire story with no words, pictures being worth so much more. But perhaps Neil Gaiman provides the best eulogy on his Tumbler:

This was the cover of the first Metal Hurlant I ever saw. I was — what — 14, and on a French Exchange to Paris and this beautiful magazine filled with comics opened my mind to what comics could be, and the art of Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius, made it so powerful and perfect. He drew different stories in different styles, and everything was beautiful. I bought a copy. I could only afford the one copy, but one was enough.

I couldn’t actually figure out what the stories were about, but I figured that was because my French wasn’t up to it.

I read the magazine over and over and envied the French because they had everything I dreamed of in comics – beautifully drawn, visionary and literate comics, for adults. I just wished my French was better, so I could understand the stories (which I knew would be amazing).

I wanted to make comics like that when I grew up.

I read them when I was in my 20s, in translation, and discovered that they weren’t actually brilliant stories. More like stream-of-consciousness art meets Ionesco absurdism. Didn’t matter. The damage had long since been done.

I met Jean Giraud on a couple of occasions. He was sweet and gentle and really… I don’t know. Spiritual is not a word I use much, mostly because it feels so very misused these days, but I’d go with it for him.

We wanted to work together. I wrote the Sandman: Endless Nights story DEATH IN VENICE for him to draw, but his health got bad, so P. Craig Russell drew it. Moebius’s health improved a little, and he asked if I could write him a very short story, perhaps 8 pages, and make them all posters, so I wrote the DESTINY story in Endless Nights for him. His health took a turn for the worse, and Frank Quitely drew it. And both Craig and Frank made magic with their stories, but somewhere inside I was sad, because I’d hoped to work with Moebius.

And now I never shall.

RIP Jean Giraud, 8 May 1938 –  10 March 2012

Though much of Moebius’ work was import only, he eventually crossed over into American comics, doing some work with Marvel Comics among others. He has influenced countless artists and his presence will surely be missed.

LA Times story via BBC here.

The 7 sins, the 7 virtues and Anime

Okay, so I’m not a huge anime fan, but growing up in El Paso meant that most of the cable channels we got were from California, specifically LA. Everyday after school me and my nerdy D & D buddies got an hour and a half of Japanese cartoons. Voltron and Starblazers really didn’t impress us a whole lot; we could never figure out why they didn’t just become the giant robot or shoot the giant laser from the front of the ship in the first five minutes. But the show we really liked was Robotech; it was our Soap Opera. It had an ongoing plot and characterization beyond anything we’d seen – we were hooked.

So, I check things out once in a while. Akira, of course, is still the yardstick for most anime. But there is one that went above and beyond all expectations in my mind and it’s called Fullmetal Alchemist. Yeah, the Nipponese really went off with the “fullmetal” thing (I wonder if Kubrick ever made any money off that); Fullmetal Panic is still a huge Manga, but compared to Alchemist, it’s Loony Tunes.

The story is simple: Immortal alchemist fathers two sons with a disease prone woman and abandons them. Then their mother dies. So the two pre-pubescent boys draw a magical circle and attempt the most verboten thing in alchemy – even more taboo than creating gold. They attempted to resurrect their mother. Because alchemy in this (or any) world requires equivalent exchange, the older brother (Edward) has his left leg torn from him. The younger brother (Alphonse or Al) loses his entire body. In a last ditch effort to save the only family he has left, Edward sacrifices his own right arm in order to bond his younger brother’s soul to a suit of armor. They then go to work for the military and unravel a major conspiracy – the country the lived in was founded to sacrifice all of its citizens in order to attack God directly. In their way stand 7 homonculi (artificially created humans) fueled by ‘Philosopher’s Stones.’ Said stones consist of sacrificed human souls.

Edward and Al (last name Elric, BTW. Nice nod to Moorcock) are trying to restore their bodies, but once they learn the secret of the stones, they attempt a different tact. Edward’s arm and leg are made of ‘automail’, alchemically enhanced prosthetics, while Al is a 14 year old in a suit of armor (this creates a lot of tension for him – he can’t sleep, eat or do what every other 14 year old boy loves to do). There are two full series of FMA (both currently available on HULU); I recommend the reboot, FMA: Brotherhood.

[Spoiler]: Which brings me to my point: the 7 homonculi are named, and personify each of the 7 deadly sins. Lust is the hot femme fatale, Wrath is (I shit you not) the president, but his title is “King Fuhrer Bradley.” Gluttony is a fat blob that eats anything he can. Greed is – well Greed gets complicated – but he possesses impenetrable armor. Envy is a shape changer, Sloth is a cross between Marvel Comic’s Hulk and Juggernaut and Pride is King Fuhrer Bradley’s adopted son, Selim.

The show is dark. Beloved characters die horribly and state alchemists are staging coups but all the Elric brothers want are their bodies back.

But enough about FMA, let’s talk about Catholics, the originators of the 7 Deadlys. The also came up with 7 ‘heavenly’ virtues.

So:

Deadly                                                     Heavenly

Wrath/Anger                                              Kindness

Pride                                                             Humility

Lust                                                               Chastity

Greed/Avarice                                            Charity

Sloth                                                             Diligence

Gluttony                                                      Temperance

Envy                                                             Patience

(Yeah, apparently early Catholics were boring with a lot of time on their hands.)

All of these are absolutes in one way or another, which is why mainstream religion is idiotic. Most gnostic beliefs state that everyone possesses all of these qualities equally and the balance is the key. Mercy without Severity is weakness, Severity w/o Mercy is cruelty and oppression.

Whatever, I don’t know shit.

Just watch Fullmetal Alchemist.

RIP Amy Winehouse

The youngest, whitest, crackhead faery diva queen of soul has gone to the great rehab clinic in the sky.

http://news.yahoo.com/report-amy-winehouse-found-dead-her-london-home-170608589.html

Dead at 27. Age ring a bell? Start with Cobain.

Hey there Rank ‘n’ Revuers, I’m covering the Free Press Summer Fest

Whether you live in Houston or Austin, this is the biggest going on in June. Here is my page at Examiner. If you want a heads up on your favorite bands or are looking for something new, I’ve done previews for nearly 20 bands (which is just a drop in the bucket). You want to see a full line-up. Sure. Here ya go.

Neon Indian

I guess I need to start paying more attention to music press. Neon Indian have been the buzz for a couple of years now, and thanks to the Houston Free Press Summer Fest, my sorry ass finally got around to hearing them. Chillwave? Sure, but I call this particular piece techno-gyspy.