Monday, August 8, 2022

Cadabra Records: Thomas Ligotti's The Clown Puppet "Live"

One of the most affecting and memorable live performances of my life was seeing Jon Padgett doing a reading of Thomas Ligotti’s short story “The Bungalow House”, accompanied by live guitar and electronics performed by Chris Bozzone. It was my first introduction to the work of Thomas Ligotti, a contemporary horror writer who espouses a particularly dismal world view, and uses his work as a means to explore this outlook. Padgett, a fantastic author of weird fiction himself, did an amazing job invoking the crushing loneliness of the narrator of “The Bungalow House”. I was utterly spellbound, hanging on every word, caught up in a horror that was far more affecting than the hackneyed violence that is the hallmark of many modern horror tales. I came away from the event as a fan of Ligotti’s fiction, and of Jon Padgett, as well. He read his own story “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism”, and I was astounded at his ability to take something as mundane as a guide book (the story is presented as a guide to becoming a skilled ventriloquist and beyond), and turn it into something deeply unsettling. This event was hosted by Cadabra Records, who had just released a spoken word vinyl record of “The Bungalow House”, with Jon Padgett doing the reading and Chris Bozzone handling the instrumentation. This event was a live recreation of that release, and the first event of its kind hosted by Cadabra Records. Although it is hard to believe now, this event occurred back in May of 2019, more than three years ago! I have been eager for Cadabra Records to host similar events, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Song Highlight: Chat Pile - grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg

Today is a special day for anyone enthralled by noisy and harrowing music, because it is the release date of Chat Pile’s first full length album, God’s Country. Chat Pile resurrect the churning noise rock menace of Big Black and the Jesus Lizard and combine it with the feedback-drenched sludge of Eyehategod. As I mentioned in my post about their song Dallas Beltway, Chat Pile have a knack for writing songs that are actually unnerving. They tackle subjects that are not uncommon to extreme metal bands, like murder and depravity, but they are able to present it in a way that does not feel exploitative. These are not subjects that they are presenting to seem edgy or “cool.” They are drawing attention to some of the wretchedness that festers in the United States of America, and society in general.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Song Highlight: Leatherface - Cabbage Case


Leatherface is one of those bands that never gained the following that they deserved, but to those who know them, they are a big deal. The UK-based punk band combined the melodic sensibilities of Hüsker Dü with the hoarse bite of Motörhead. Unlike many punk bands of their time, Leatherface put a great emphasis on melody. Their songs are immediately catchy, with infectious guitar lines all held together with a pounding rhythm section. And while that is not necessarily unique to Leatherface, their vocalist Frankie Stubbs has a vocal rasp unlike any other (the most apt comparison being to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead). It is not a harshness that feels forced or put on, like you might find in genres of extreme metal. Of all of the aspects of Leatherface’s music, it is Stubb’s vocals that can be something of an acquired taste. But to me, that is just part of Leatherface’s unique charm. Even if you cannot always make out exactly what Stubbs is singing, you can feel it. The emotive impact is always present.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Armchair Martian - You Deserve This

 

When I consider the songs that had a profound impact on my life, and ones that made me a music enthusiast, the music of Armchair Martian sits towards the top of the list. It was 2007 and I was midway through college. A friend of mine was introducing me to the world of punk rock outside of The Clash and The Ramones. In particular, he showed me Bad Astronaut’s cover of the seminal NOFX song, "Linoleum". Bad Astronaut was the side project of Joey Cape, the singer of the California skate punk band Lagwagon. Cape wanted an avenue to be more exploratory with the music he was writing, and work beyond the confines of the punk that Lagwagon was playing (the members of Lagwagon would balk at the notion of incorporating a keyboard into a song). Bad Astronaut’s version of Linoleum is less abrasive, and slower, focused more around Cape’s great voice, and mounts to an explosive second half. I loved it and I was immediately looking for more of Bad Astronaut's music, which brought me to War of the Worlds, a split album between Bad Astronaut and Armchair Martian, where each band played the other's songs. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Song Highlight: Black Sheep Wall - Metallica

It is hard to write a compelling 33 minute song, especially if the song features a handful of repeating guitar riffs extending ad nauseam. Remarkably, this is exactly what the Southern California-based sludge metal band Black Sheep Wall have done with the song “Metallica.” The song is of their 2015 album I’m Going to Kill Myself, which features memorable album art of two colorful monsters, as if out of a children's book, with one telling the other “I’m going to kill myself.”

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Nine of Swords - Wild Strawberries

As I have started to get older, I yearn for bands to play shorter sets, such that I can get home from a show at a more reasonable hour (better for a set to be short and sweet than to drag on). And to go along with this, I sometimes find myself wishing that a show will not have very many opening acts, so things can progress to the headliner more quickly. I need to stop wishing this, as I have discovered so many amazing bands/artists playing as opening acts. Case in point, I recently was introduced to the incredible hardcore band Nine of Swords when they opened for Portrayal of Guilt.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Song Highlight: Timeshares - Ladder

About 10 years ago, I first heard the Menzingers as an opening act for The Bouncing Souls. The Menzingers were the highlight of that show, and they have gone on to become one of my favorite melodic punk bands. This month I saw the Menzingers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, almost 10 years later. The highlight of this show was their first opening act, a New York state punk band called Timeshares. They combine the punk aggression of early Menzingers material with some alternative country leanings, ala the Drive By Truckers. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know that I have a special affinity for rock music with a country-tinge to it. Hearing a sorrowful twang in their music was cause for much excitement, and I went home and bought some of their music straightaway. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Song Highlight: Waylon Jennings - Black Rose


Country music is amongst the most maligned of musical genres (perhaps just below Nu-metal). Many of the artists that dominate mainstream country music radio stations play a brand of country music that does not feel sincere. It is as if a record label told them to combine a collection of stereotypes about hard-working Americans and set it to the strumming of an acoustic guitar. It is apparent that they are not singing about lived experiences. They are pandering to a demographic, and hoping that listeners will not think hard enough about it to notice.