Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who makes the rockin' world go 'round?

Want to know what grinds my gears?

People who are assholes about big girls. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's as if a woman has no value as a human being to all these shallow shitty men if they can't successfully masturbate to a picture of her. And then because so many women are catty bitches who, despite claiming independence, seem to allow their lives to revolve around shallow glamour-and-beauty standards set by shallow shitty men - and if another woman decides to be content on the outside of that line, then, well, you know how some women are when they're hellbent on making another suffer.

Let me set something straight: I like large women. I have since I was first interested in women, and I can't imagine myself not having that attraction.

Now, if this were simply a difference in opinion, then no harm, no foul. Unless it involves causing harm to an unwilling partner or a child or something, I don't care what you're attracted to. It's not something that can be helped. People who base every aspect of their existence around their fetish, like some furries, can be annoying and discomforting, but I have to respect people who simply have their attraction "out there" if it goes against what's mainstream. I can relate to that; people like to make other people feel bad about what they're attracted to if it's anything other than what you see being pushed on TV or those wretched magazines you see in the supermarket check-out. I did for a while, but why? Why should I feel bad for what I'm attracted to, especially if it's not even all that "out there" (regardless of what comedy writers who think it's hi-larious for guys to want to fuck fat chicks will tell you)?
But no... It goes beyond opinions. I cannot tell you how many conversations I've had where an outsider intruded to say something shitty, uninvited and unwanted about a larger woman/her clothing/her self-image (oh no, she doesn't hate herself for not being able to attract douchebags!) and if I say anything about, I dunno, not being an asshole and not telling other people what to be attracted to, I get yelled at for "forcing my opinion down their throat" or "infringing on their right to be attracted to thin girls." When I start coming uninvited and attacking people for discussing thin women in a positive manner, then maybe you'll have a case, but as is? No. Stop being a shithead.

But, I'm getting somewhat off track... What is it about the stigma that's been violently forced into our anuses by popular culture that it's impossible for a woman with extra on her to be attractive? Some scant progress is being made regarding the whole "badonkadonk" thing, but society's ass is still bleeding and infected; the damage has already been done and will take a lot of work to undo.

Well... Fuck. I had more I was going to say but I'm all flustered about something unrelated and I forgot what it was. I'll be adding to this topic in the future... Until then, have some Beth Ditto.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Album Review: Big Black - "The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape" (1986)

Big Black
The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape

Oh Steve Albini. You're an arrogant twat of epic proportions, your production resume is spotty, and your legions of sycophantic fans are among the worst of any band fandom I've ever dealt with, but somehow I still consider one of your records to be one of the most essential of the 80's. I am talking of course about Atomizer, though the other stuff on here isn't bad either.

What we have here is a collection of songs from Big Black, one of the best and most influential American 80's punk bands and one of the more important figureheads in the noise rock movement. This disc contains most of the first LP, Atomizer, and some EPs and miscellaneous B-sides and comp tracks. Fitting with Albini's M.O. of complaining about digital music recording and storage wherever possible, the sound quality is shit (though I can't really imagine this music having the same impact if it were polished and crisp), there's a track missing from Atomizer, and there are some smug little messages Albini added around the packaging regarding his somewhat off-base prediction about the CD format - I guess as his way of reconciling the fact that the label forced him to put this on CD in the first place.

Atomizer makes up some of the best... whatever the hell you'd most accurately call Big Black, it seems the jury is still out on that for some people... ever recorded. It's intense, angry, misanthropic, and puts you right there. Listening to "Jordan, Minnesota" or "Kerosene" or "Bad Houses" lets me vividly imagine a bored, resentful existence as a miserable slacker with a grudge against everyone, pretending for a moment I'm not already kinda close to that. They offer the very best example of Albini's violently bitter lyricism and expulsion of those thoughts, the very best example of the band's thick, hanging atmosphere of tension and demented screeching, roaring, exploding guitar tones that oftentimes make you question whether that's even a guitar you're hearing. One of my favorite things about Big Black is exemplified here - the crossover appeal. Whether your poison is industrial, grunge, indie-rock, hardcore, or whatever, you will probably find something you enjoy.

Some of the songs (especially on the Headache section) kind of droop in quality compared to the first half of the album, enough even to make me lower the score of the compilation as a whole, but they're still decent. My only complaint is that the sound quality, even on CD, is really fucking low, because Steve Albini is a huge gonad about things like that.
That said, buy this album ASAP. It deserves a place on the shelf of everyone who appreciates any of the varying routes of darker alternative music.


Album Review: Pigface - "Fook" (1992)


Okay... Here's where it starts getting difficult.

Unlike what seems like the whole rest of industrial fandom, I never swooned over this album. Sure, I liked it. Didn't regret buying it or anything, especially for how cheap I got it. But for all the fuss over it (and the great number of talented musicians), it left me... underwhelmed. I'm giving it another go as I type this, so perhaps my mind will be changed.

Unlike Gub, which was very lo-fi and experimental and sparse and drum-oriented and basically sounded like what you'd get if some famous industrial and punk musicians decided to record pieces of songs in each other's basements between tours, this one sounds like Grand Central by comparison. Much more shit going on... And not necessarily in a good way, like the best Skinny Puppy or NIN albums.

One thing about this album is that it has more of a stable lineup and more personnel on each song... The sound is more standard and song-based and full of guitars... Bill Rieflin is gone, but in his absence, we get a fairly consistent group of instrumentalists that includes old pal William Tucker as well as Paul Raven of Killing Joke and Andrew Weiss of Rollins Band, so it's not a bad trade. En Esch plays guitar on literally half the album too, so cool beans.

The album kicks off with "Alles Ist Mine", the second installment of Pigface's series of "En Esch rasps over frenzied drumming" songs... But this one has some funky bass, kickass guitars and is just better-produced. It gets a thumbs-up from me.

"Ten Ground and Down" is an interesting moody cello-based track that features new frequent Pigface vocalist Lesley Rankine sharing vocal duties once again with the inimitable Chris Connelly. I never paid this track much heed before, but it's quite good.

"Seven Words" is a noisy track sung by Mary Byker from some noise rock band called Gaye Bykers on Acid. Reminds me of a cross between Big Black and Chemlab (the latter of which at least makes sense, what with William Tucker tearing it up on guitar). Decent but not essential in the least.

"Insemination" is a drum-heavy track with the return of Nivek Ogre. That Matt Schulz guy providing some cool militaristic samples. It actually sounds like a more polished version of something we would have gotten on Gub, with maybe a dash of what we'd get from Rx later on. Nice track.

"Hips, Tits, Lips, Power!" is a strange little track with Lesley Rankine and Mary Byker singing about, well, guess what? It's not a bad track but it kind of drags. I love the guitars though.

"Satellite" is a kind of generic-sounding Mary Byker-fronted song. It's not bad at all, it's just... nice. At this point several tracks on the album are starting to bleed together from sounding similar, and this is one of them.

"I'm Still Alive" is an odd, bouncy number with Esch and Ogre... I like it, it doesn't differ too much from some of these other songs but it's fun and has some interesting sounds and samples.

"Auto Hag" is yet another Mary Byker track and basically has the band doing a staticy noise-rock/metal thing. It's unfortunately kind of meh.

"Go!" is another Esch/Ogre track and it's decent... Sounds like a lesser outtake from Gub. Cool but inessential.

"I Can Do No Wrong" has David Wm. Sims of The Jesus Lizard playing us out while Chris Connelly gives us that heavenly voice one more time. It's pretty stripped-down and basic but atmospheric at the same time. Sounds kind of like what The Jesus Lizard would be if it had a crooning Scottish vocalist, more polished production and some jazzy drumming. One of the better ones from this album.

So, that's the album. One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that, I guess thanks to having two bassists, the bass is extremely prominent. My main gripe is that the album kind of runs short on ideas. Many of the songs sound very similar and get kind of dull... A problem that would eventually be inverted in later albums then there's very little stylistic consistency within an album.

Overall... Decent, but one of Pigface's lesser albums, I think. I still don't see what all the fuss is about.

RATING: 2.5/5

Album Review: Pigface - "Gub" (1990)


So, here's the first Pigface album. It took me a while, but I finally got around to getting and listening to their albums, which was not the easiest thing in the world - a sad commentary in and of itself. I don't generally do this, but because of the nature of this band, I'm going to be doing this track-by-track. Shit's gonna get long-winded in here.

First, some backstory: Pigface was the brainchild of tragically hip egomaniac poser and rivethead folk hero Martin Atkins (known at this point for being in Public Image Ltd. for a chunk of the 80's, and being in Ministry and Killing Joke for about five minutes apiece) and Bill Rieflin of Ministry and Revolting Cocks (though it seems apparent that Rieflin was mostly being dragged along for the ride). Atkins had this grandiose scheme, see, to create this act with no sturdy lineup, who went back to the punk and industrial agendas of total disregard for song structure or audience expectations or doing shit that other bands did. This approach was not nearly as successful as Atkins expected it to be, but they cranked out some decent tunes at least. And here we are with their first record, made by the two boys (plus indie asshole hero Steve Albini) with a bunch of their buddies adding some vocals and extra instrumentation.

The first track, "Tapeworm", is a great success right out the gate. Nivek Ogre (of Skinny Puppy fame) delivers an impressive screeching vocal while Steve Albini drops a dirty, sauntering bassline and the Atkins/Rieflin duo gives us the expected awesome drumwork (which is one of the few consistently good things on this album).
The second track, "The Bushmaster", is pretty good as well. The boys do a good job with making a minimalistic setup sound strong - it's just Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow's usual demented rambling backed by some frenzied drums (plus some odd sound effect tape loops supplied in a cameo by Trent Reznor, apparently).
"Cylinder Head World" is where shit starts getting weird and reservations about the quality of the album begin creeping in. It's nearly four sparse minutes of random sound effect punctuated by silence. Stuff like someone sawing at some guitar strings, someone playing a bassline in the distance, some feedback noises, I dunno. If it had some kind of even minimalistic music behind it, I would be more forgiving, but as-is, it sounds like someone shuffling about in the studio and tuning the instruments unknowingly with the mic still on. According to Chris Connelly, this was an attempt by Martin Atkins to be all rebellious and uber-industrial by doing true anti-music. We're not impressed, Martin.
However, disappointment from this track is mopped away once we hear "Point Blank", one of my favorite things Pigface ever released. It's a very alternative-rock-ish track with a wonderful Bowie-esque croon from diverse singer-songwriter & Ministry/Revolting Cocks collaborator Chris Connelly, and some really nice guitar work from Albini. It's a wonderful song, and it's not even very 'industrial'-sounding. It's kind of like a more stripped-down and overall better-sounding version of something we'd have gotten from Murder Inc. It'll be hard to top this'un.
Now comes what is probably Pigface's most famous song... "Suck", starring Trent Reznor on vox and giving the ever-awesome Paul Barker a great supporting role on bass. Now, don't get me wrong, I like this song - I like the dusty bass, I like the marching-drums percussion, but the production sucks and something doesn't sound right about it. It sounds kinda naked and, well, like an unfinished demo or something (reportedly at Steve Albini's insistence, as Trent had some electronics and other things planned that Albini put the kibosh on). Because of this, I tend to prefer NIN's cover of the song, as it sounds more fully realized to me.
"Symphony for Taps" is another 'hey guys, look at me destroying the system!' track, but slightly more tolerable than the first. Samples of running water with a headache-inducing repeated synth string(?)
"The Greenhouse" is actually kind of good, and the first track on here made solely by the Atkins/Rieflin/Albini trio that I can say that about. It's an instrumental featuring jazz drums and weird screaming electronic noises. I like it.
"Little Sisters" brings Connelly back for another go. The song itself is mostly boring but it has a nice dual-guitar attack from Bill Rieflin and ill-fated WaxTrax-era guitarist William Tucker.
"Tailor Made" is another fairly decent track, starring Paul Barker on bass and lead vocals. It's got an awesome funky bassline and it makes me sad that he didn't sing on more Ministry stuff.
"War Ich Nicht Immer Ein Guter Junge? War Ich Nicht Immer Schoen und Nett? Ich Zerpfluckte Niemals Eine Spinne - War Niemals Frech und Stahl" (you think the title's long enough?) brings En Esch of KMFDM into the fold... Unfortunately the track doesn't do much for me. It's the formula of "Esch rasps over some frenetic drums" (also featuring an annoying electronic drone in this incarnation) that the band would revisit a few times on later albums and do better.
"Blood and Sand" is a very cool and interesting track with an ominous buildup and some creepy, heavily-processed vocals by Chris Connelly again. Oh, and Matt Schulz from that band Lab Report contributes some electronics work or something. I'd love to hear more like this.
The album proper closes with "Weightless", another decent track in the vein of "Point Blank", but more metal and featuring Barker on bass. Not too shabby.
Following that, we get some remixes that mostly add extra punch to aspects of the album, plus an inexplicable shortened version of "Suck" as a hidden track. Huh?

File:Pigface 1991.jpg

Altogether, it's not too shabby an album. Fairly inconsistent, but nothing compared to how much so the band would be getting in subsequent outings. I know I give Atkins and the gang a lot of shit but it's all in good fun... I think I'm one of the few people who would actually say they prefer this to pretty much any Pigface album, including Fook. Something about the lo-fi experimental feel to it appeals to me, as does its crossovers into Big Black/Jesus Lizardy noise rock territory.

So... this is probably a good starting point with Pigface, because if you fall in love with their later stuff, you may end up underwhelmed - this lacks the busy production and buttloads of guest appearances that the others feature. It kind of stands alone in their discography really... I mean, I don't necessarily dislike what the band has become, but imagine what would have happened if Atkins wasn't such a repulsive dick and he was able to keep most of these guys around long enough to want to make more music in this vein with him...

RATING: 3.5/5

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Album Review: Godflesh - "Godflesh" (1988)


Miserable, misanthropic, painful. These are words I would use to describe Godflesh's debut. A lot like the Swans, actually.
The music is an excruciatingly slow doom-trudge through a disturbing industrial nightmare. Imagine Eraserhead in album form. Also kinda like the Swans, now that I think of it. Seriously, listen to Cop or Greed, and this is pretty similar. Not that that is a bad thing.

The music is pretty simple, but simplicity is all this needs. At the front you've got Justin Broadrick's tortured wailing and some wonderful guitar work that makes some of the best use of feedback I've ever heard. Then you have G.C. Green's booming, roaring basslines, and some subtle (and occasionally less so) electronics duties split between the two of them. Half the time one or both of the instruments sound more like some kind of large machine than a musical instrument, which is great.

So, we make our way through the tracks... They're kind of same-ish in places, which is kind of a problem Godflesh has sometimes, but they're still just fantastic so it's quite easily forgiven. Some stand out for me though for whatever reason. My favorite is "Godhead." One of G.C.'n'Justin's best.
As bonus tracks, we've got two long remixes. "Wounds", the first of them, I especially like, even if most people don't seem to like it. It's an awesome industrial dance sort of thing not too much unlike something you migh hear from Wax Trax.


Overall, I just have to give this album a good score. At first I didn't like it because it was a little *too* noisy for me (I had gotten used to the cleaner sound of stuff like Pure) but it grew on me fast, and now it's one of my favorite albums. I just can't resist going back to this frequently. The grinding bass and guitar, the oppressive production atmosphere and Broadrick's pained vocals just make it perfect. In fact, as someone who *generally* doesn't find Broadrick that great a vocalist (as much as I like his music) I've got to say I think his vocals work best on here by far - doing a Michael Gira-esque moan that sounds like some death-orgasm.

It sucks that this is OOP. I had to fork over some fairly good coin for a copy of it myself (about the most I'd pay for one CD, in fact) but it was well worth it.
Broadrick and Green go on to do some truly fantastic stuff, and break away from the Swans worship to do more original things, but this is the one I always go back to.


Friday, April 1, 2011

"By the way, if you see your mom this weekend, would ya be sure and tell her... SATAN!"

What is it with people's tendency to assume you're a Satanist or anti-Christian because you listen to music other than country, or find odd things that are totally unrelated to religion fascinating, or because you don't take Rush Limbaugh's words as law, or because you like to use critical thinking about things?

You read Stephen King? Oooh, Satanist.

You find the beliefs and practices of different theologies interesting to study? *cough* Satanist, dude.

You listen to Marilyn Manson (who, contrary to what people like to say, identifies as agnostic, has never promoted any subversive theistic beliefs, and is not anti-religion, but anti-bastards-using-religion-as-a-tool-to-frighten-and-oppress)? BURN SATANIST BURN!

Fuck you, people. I may not be a traditional Christian but I am spiritual and quite comfortable with it. I may not go to church on a regular basis, but I like to dream of tolerance and brotherhood, which is likely more than can be said for a lot of religious leaders. I may not pray every night, but I will gladly look upon the cross as a symbol of unity and love, whether a certain hippie Jew was actually nailed to it or not, and whether people nowadays who do pray actually care about those things or not. As a character from one of my favorite films once explained...

The brilliant idea made to defy the institution has become noticed by the institution, and now the idea is the institution and its meaning seems to be lost on too many people who follow it. It's a shame...