Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Slow Burn of Summer...

Kinda got my head in a bunch of stuff these days, including finishing some new tracks. I'm going to post a rough mix of my newest joint here. Comment and lemme know what you think. Here are a couple of other cultural confections:

Finally saw Kathryn Bigelow's first film, "The Loveless" from 1981.

I mentioned her a few months ago in my Patrick Swayze post. The flick's been on my radar for awhile, since it was both her and star Willem Dafoe's first film. Besides a really cheap ending, it's an interesting riff on "The Wild One" and other 1950's youth-in-trouble films. It's also quite different from her subsequent films (most notably "Near Dark", "Blue Steel" and "Point Break".) While her preoccupation with the tribal rituals of men remains (this time in the form of biker gangs), the film has a subtle tone of irony and an attention to set design and costume that was lost in her films by the late 80's (although she does bring back humor with the dialogue in her latest film, "The Hurt Locker" - a must see). "The Loveless" also has a leisurely pace befitting it's setting in a small, rural southern town during a languid summer, a pace which she also moved away from in favor of a (albeit totally righteous) signature of tightly pace, taut thrillers with surprisingly nuanced characters. So it was interesting for me to compare and contrast this early work with those to come.

Went to a metal show last week in Williamsburg, and that apparently is not so much of a rarity anymore. Hadn't been to a real metal show for awhile (instrumental math shit doesn't count, even though it's also schaweet). My friend Joel astutely observed that the difference between "indie" metal (i.e. not all-ages shows in Bayridge; wish I had the balls to keep it that real) and more "traditional" metal is that the indie guys fully embrace their white trash roots and do so mainly with beer before, during and after the shows. So as opposed to say, Metallica, who still seem to be driven largely by angst and anger well into their middle age,

these indie guys want to rock the fuck out, have a good time and maybe be a little weird while doing it. Hence, Mastadon can be played on the same ipod as Belle and Sebastian, but Shadows Fall or God Forbid may get strange looks from your co-workers. Clearly, these delineations are pretty ridiculous, and most metal bands have shared interests before splintering into their chosen sub-genres (Sabbath, Zeppelin, Metallica, Death, Slayer, etc. are all required listening). But I would say that the players of indie metal (along with their cousins in the first wave and a few second wave screamo bands, particularly The Fall of Troy) are more open to integrating styles from the various subgenres of metal and creating their own sound. Of course, there are other indie metal bands that seem to emphasize the signifiers of the genre over any depth in the music (as exemplified by bands like The Sword).

At the show, I missed the first band but made it in time to see Children, who kicked serious ass.

Their songs seamlessly went through all forms of "heavy", from 70's stomp to pulverizing thrash while somehow maintaining a consistency in their songwriting. It was really great to hear a band who could equally embrace Thin Lizzy and Testament. My only criticism is their stage presence was a little lacking and their drummer didn't hit hard enough. The last problem was not apparent at all in the next band, Saviors, whose drummer was keeping it quite real with perfect double bass drum hits, no shirt exposing a mutitude of tats, and thunderous snare thwacks. These guys were totally pro and claimed the stage immediately. However, their influences were much narrower than those of Children, concentrating pretty much on early to mid-80s's British metal like Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden. While fun for a couple of songs, it got overly derivative pretty quickly. But I hope Children play in BK again soon. They RAAWK!


Seen said...

Great post. I think another one of those metal bands willing to try anything - and often virtuosos in the process - has to be Protest the Hero. The album "Fortress" is amazing.

I'm shocked - and pleased - that someone as hip as you was willing to say something nice about Metallica. I certainly saw it as a compliment to them atleast!

Michael said...

Yo E,

It's great to hear new music from you. I understand the composition as simple layers applied with complexity. Well done. btw, the song ends at 4:18 or so, but the track plays on for another 2 mins. or so. I waited for a hidden track, a la your first EPs homage to Amadou Diallo.

We've plans to be in NYC next week. I'll give you a call when I'm in town. I'd be great to see you.



Ben said...

Regarding your the "indie" / "real" distinction, I would argue that an inherent part of metal is a personal existential positioning in taste and genre rather than the positivist, stylistic breakdown you suggest. For instance, I remember a time when Slayer scared the hell out of me and the other night I played it in the car as Alison and I went to a nice birthday party with featured Belgian ales. I think that the direction—implying motion—of listening taste (and comfort) is more important when it comes to metal. You can listen to really crazy stuff and over time normalize it, giving metal it's unique power. At the same time, there is a founding event of sorts, the first Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin albums for instance—whichever way you are persuaded. I have found that people move in two directions with metal taste: 1. towards nostalgic "founding" 2. towards suffering chaos until you can hum along with it. The so-called "indie metal" fragments the founding event and aimlessly points backwards, referentially, satisfying memories of yesterday perhaps. Maybe even, it is a way of defining something in an almost parodic way.

evan said...

Hmmm...interesting points. I would agree that a lot of "indie" metal is riffing on as you said "founding events". And I'd also agree that what is frightening today can be normalized tomorrow (for me, that would be Meshuggah). But I don't think metal listeners fall into the categories of either nostalgia or suffering chaos-seekers . I would generally not categorize metal fans as anything except people who like a combination of adrenaline, technical virtuosity, bleakness and excess in their music. While I think most people cross the metal genre lines in their personal listening, the lines to me (upon further reflection) fall under the categories of either "party animals" or "party poopers". The "animals" follow the lineage of Zeppelin, Kiss, Van Halen, Motley Crue, "Metalcore", the Warped Tour etc. The "poopers" are loyal to the lineage of Sabbath, Metallica, Death, Coroner, Slayer, Khante, the Melvins, Pelican, noise music, etc.

But like I said, most of the metalheads I know find some kind of identity that is a combination of the Animal and Pooper. For instance, I think Pelican is boring as shit, but I dig Child Abuse and Metallica. I also swear by Winger and dig some of that Warped Tour stuff like Every Time I Die.

evan said...

Just a quick add...I think we pretty much agree with each other. The party pooper and the party animal are simply two perspectives of what you referred to as "existential positioning". I'm just taking nostalgia out of the equation.