Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Random Rock Reportings

The new Rancid album came out. These guys have been at it a while now and despite some odd diversions into ska a la The Clash in their later years, have stayed pretty true to their roots though with vocalist Tim Armstrong's Operation Ivy past, maybe he's staying true to his roots too. This new album is good, but what really impressed me is the packaging. For $11.99 I got the CD, a second CD including a surprisingly good acoustic version of many of the songs off of the album, and a DVD packaged inside a nice slipcase with a poster and some goofy collectible guitar picks. Maybe illegal downloads are a good thing after all in that at least they inspire the record companies to give those of us who do still buy records more bang for our buck.

I also picked up the remastered History of Melodie Nelson album from the man himself, Serge Gainsbourg. My Gainsbourg obsession has been growing at a pretty rapid pace over the years as I start to make the (some would say obvious) connections between his stuff and artists I hold near and dear like Pulp, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and the like. The remastering job is fantastic. The production really shines through and you really get a chance to hear how layered this recording is. The liner's translate the lyrics into English from their native French and the saucy cover art featuring a topless Jane Birkin cuddling a big teddy bear is still inspiring. And I mean that in the literal sense, not at all in the 'hey a naked lady' kinda way, though it is remarkable that Gainsbourg got with her and with Bardot within the span of a couple of years. Just goes to show that 'cool' trumps 'handsome' any day of the week.

A co-worker loaned me some of the Neil Young Archives discs, Live At Massey Hall and Live At The Filmore. Both sound great, it's amazing that old live recordings like this can have such clarity decades later. I've been a Neil Young fan since early highschool (as a kid my dad had a copy of Harvest on vinyl when I was a kid that I couldn't get into until early 90s - better late than never) and while I'll admit his voice, like Dylan's or Springsteen's, is an acquired taste, he is in my opinion one of Canada's greatest living songwriters. He's still got a potency to his work that makes him more than just another aging hippy and like Cash in his later years and Kristofferson in his current phase, his music still means something to those of us willing to pay attention to the lyrics. His last two albums haven't wowed me the way his earlier stuff does, but they've got their merits and Living With War makes some good points in the same way that Cash's Heavenly Minded did. I also find that the older and greyer I get, the more I look like him, which is kind of weird.

Tomorrow night we're going to see Hank III play in Brooklyn. I haven't been to a live show in, wow, almost seven months so it's high time I got get my rock on, or in this case, my honky tonk on. There's some good shows coming up, too many in a sense: Agnostic Front, Jarvis Cocker, Naked Raygun, Motorhead with Rev. Horton Heat, Scott Biram, among others. I'd love to go to them all and really take advantage of the music scene here - but it's a matter of time and money and right now we've got a wedding to pay for - obviously that takes priority but I am going to see if we can scrounge together $20 for Scott because he delivers one of the best live shows around right now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Look, ma, I'm on TV!

Well, sort of.

If you go here and watch the video I pop up for a quick second. This is a promo piece for Ratline, a movie made by our friends over at Wicked Pixel Cinema, St. Louis' finest group o' gorehounds and some of the nicest and most talented people you could hope to meet in the indy cinema scene. I'm in this promo video for about as long as I'm probably going to be in the finished movie - about two seconds - but it's kinda fun to see me giggling with a big fake bloody wound in my head.

So what else is new? Well the wedding plans are off to a kick ass start. We've got the contracts inked for just about the coolest venue we could possibly find for the ceremony and its even paid for up front. The bands arrived not too long ago and look even better in person than I figured they would. Things are falling into place nicely and while it's a bit of stress on the old pocket book, we'll find the money to pull it off.

Last weekend we had some friends - Matt, Todd and Paul - show up for the weekend. While Alison was battling the worst case of food poisoning I've ever seen anyone ever get (a night in the hospital hanging out with the IV drip did do her a world of good, thankfully) but was still gracious enough to let boys be boys even though I wish she could have been there for some of the stupidity. I was a karaoke superstar on my birthday night, spent at King Yum (a fun tioki joint not at all unlike The Alibi in Portland) - the old ladies love it when you bust out the Neil Diamond. Saturday we just went pub crawling and record shopping in the lower part of Manhattan but it was a good time drinking good beer and eating good food with good friends. Sunday we hit up the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors show where we got the stinkeye from Tom Savini for heckling Dario Argento, met some of the members of Gwar, and where I got freaked out seeing David Hess hug my fiance. David's a nice enough guy in person, but still, he's Krug, and Krug is a creep. Sometimes it's hard to seperate the art from the artist, you know? Alison actually knows David so it's not like he was just being weird, he was hugging a friend so it's all good... but still... he's Krug.... eek!

We had to leave early to get various people back to the airport but a friend was kind enough to stand in line and get Argento's signature on my Anchor Bay boxed set which is pretty neat. We also picked up a sweet one sheet for Barbed Wire Dolls. Speaking of one-sheets, I don't have any spare wall space but I'm going to find some for the Rock N Roll Nightmare art that Alison found for me. I've never actually seen a Rock N Roll Nightmare poster before, except for some jpegs online, so it's awesome to finally own it, especially considering how important that slice of classic Canadian cinema is to me.

So yeah, life is good. I got a solid raise at work to the point where, while I'm not rich, I'm at least able to survive off of what I make now and more importantly, I really enjoy what I'm doing and like the people I work for. It's a nice change after my last gig, which wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be when I took the position. Live and learn I guess.

Hank III is swinging through NYC in two weeks or so and we've got tickets for that and this weekend is the Austism Walk down at the seaport in Manhattan. Lots going on and not nearly enough time to rest, but I'll sleep when I'm dead. Right now I'm happy just being happy and loving life.