Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Dilettante's Guide to Riot Grrrl

A Dilettante's Guide to Riot Grrrl

  1. Bikini Kill, "Rebel Girl"
  2. L7, "Pretend We're Dead"
  3. Sleater-Kinney, "Dig Me Out"
  4. Bratmobile, "Gimme Brains"
  5. Excuse 17, "Witchmaker"
  6. Huggy Bear, "Her Jazz"
  7. Bratmobile, "Cool Schmool"
  8. Bikini Kill, "Suck My Left One"
  9. The Frumpies, "I Just Wanna Puke on the Stereo"
  10.  Heavens to Betsy, "Terrorist"
  11. L7, "Shitlist"
  12. Sleater-Kinney, "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone"
  13. Bikini Kill, "Double Dare Ya"
  14. The Frumpies, "We Don't Wanna Go Home"
  15. Bikini Kill, "Feels Blind"
  16. Heavens to Betsy, "Complicated"
  17. Sleater-Kinney, "One More Hour"
  18. Local H, "Grrrlfriend"
For RA. Local H counts, right?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Amon Amarth, "Father of the Wolf"

Amon Amarth have an awesome Best of live album in them. Their records are always good, often great (especially 2006's With Oden on Our Side), but they're best experienced in the flesh, with filler-free setlists and best of all, the most smashing Viking metal flair you'll ever see. "Father of the Wolf", my pick for Father's Day 2015, is a great example of their power--a cinematic, riff-heavy death metal fest with a singable chorus. Raise your index and pinky before your hand turns into a paw.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Band Reunion at the Wedding"

I recently attended a tribute show to the first Decline of Western Civilization movie, with tribute bands performing songs by Fear, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and X. There I was reminded of the excellent SNL sketch "Band Reunion at the Wedding", wherein a Fred Armisen-led band reunites at his daughter's wedding. I won't give away any of the jokes, or the special guest, but I'll just add that it's a hilarious scene with nods to several great hardcore bands, including Suicidal Tendencies and Corrosion of Conformity. These guys can play my wedding anytime.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rock Muppets

I'm thrilled about the new Muppets show coming to TV this fall, and of course I'm hoping they'll continue to have metal guest appearances--Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Grohl are among the headbangers who've performed with Kermit's gang in the past. Maybe this time they'll even create a metal muppet, something they've never done in the past (as far as I've known). But two hard rock themed performances come close.

"ZZ Blues" is a catchy blues-rock song lamenting the lack of z-words, performed by ZZ Top-inspired Muppets. Whoever put this together was clearly an old school fan--notice how the song plays on the band's blues-based '70s tracks and not their more popular synth-heavy '80s hits. The green screen background suggests every generic '70s rock TV studio performance, and the creators even got the beardless drummer right. "ZZ Blues" is as worthy of the Top as "Haw-haw-haw" and the famous hand gesture.

"Rebel L" honors Billy Idol as deftly as "ZZ Blues" gets ZZ Top, with a "Rebel Yell" parody that chronicles a renegade letter making noise outside the Idol Muppet's house. I'd love to know how many kids learned what a rebel was from this video, or bothered their parents by reenacting the events. Bonus points for being the only '80s music video I can think of where the cops are as badass as the singer and the title characer.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come

It still blows my mind that Ornette Coleman is as popular as he is. Not that I don't like him, but I'm surprised that someone who eschewed things like hooks and structure in his music would get the following that he has, one that crosses over from jazz into the alt-rock world. But there it is, and Coleman's compositional innovations can be heard all the way over in punk rock, most famously on Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come, which blew out a world of Epitaph and pop punk in 1998 before paving the way for modern mathcore.

There's no direct connection between The Shape of Punk to Come and Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, or even a song-for-song link a la Main St. and Guyville. But like Coleman, Refused embodied a famously iconolcastic genre and became the iconoclast among iconoclasts, demolishing notions of what a punk band could be by experimenting with length, structure and arrangements. Nearly 20 years later, with punk rock getting its own gala and exhibit at the Met, The Shape of Punk to Come is, more than ever, the kick in the nuts that punk rock deserves.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee, "The Bloody Verdict of Verden"

Years before Nicolas Cage turned The Wicker Man into a punchline, Christopher Lee created one of the most chilling and original villains in cinema history. That alone would seal his place as a badass, but thankfully he lived on to lend his talents to The Man with the Golden Gun, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more. He also released two symphonic metal albums, and at age 90, was the oldest man (and surely the only knight) to ever perform on a metal album.

"The Bloody Verdict of Verden" is campy, albeit no more so than any number of popular symphonic or power metal bands (Manowar and Rhapsody of Fire, both of whom Lee collaborated with, included). It's no novelty, either. Even without his cinematic cred, Lee has the vocal chops for metal, delivering the song with the power and conviction that most mortals can only dream of. Keep shedding the blood of the Saxon men, Sir Christopher.

Friday, June 5, 2015

3 Inches of Blood, "Violent Sinners"

I'm sorry to see 3 Inches of Blood announce their breakup this week. The BC (British Columbia, not Before Christ) quartet were ferocious live, and infected the NWOBNHM-inspired music with enough black metal and death metal, not to mention killer hooks, to rise above the neo-NWOBHM heap. The last time I caught them, at St. Vitus on a skull-crushingly great bill with Goatwhore, Revocation and Ramming Speed, they were easily the most traditionally metal band on the bill, but played just as brutally as their peers. I'm guessing more than a few death metalers got into Iron Maiden through 3IOB, and they probably got some old school metalheads into Behemoth as well.

"Deadly Sinners", from 2004's Advance and Vanquish, comes close to packing everything that's great about extreme metal into four and a half minutes. The lyrics are Manowar-worthy, and the vocals are clearly indebted to King Diamond, but no one I can think of had ever put it all together so smoothly until 3 Inches of Blood. This was a rare modern band that exhibited the fun of metal music without pretending there was anything shameful about being in a metal band, getting headbangers on their feet and putting a scene full of Sunn O)))s to shame. Thanks for the music, gentlemen. Best of luck with that final show, and please keep us posted on your new projects.