Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Revenge of X ~ ALPHABETLAND

   Yesterday on Earth Day 2020 during this "Year of Perfect Vision" (thanks, Covid-19) X made their world-rattling announcement that their first full length studio album in thirty-five years ~ ALPHABETLAND ~ just dropped!  WUMP, like a dirty nuke smack dab right into the midst of our awkward social isolation--BOOM--New X!

    Well I immediately ordered the damn lime green limited edition (to 500 copies) vinyl from Bandcamp. I just checked today and yes--they are gone--just like that. Doesn't surprise me none--we are talking about the world's most famous LA punk band, after all. And for damn good reason, to boot. Incidentally, the real die-hard edition was in yellow and limited to 200 pressings and included an ALPHABETLAND patch. Grrrr. The next die-hard was in red and limited to 300 pressings and also included the patch. Arrrgh. The green edition is the third die-hard, limited to 500 and yeah, I'm pretty happy I got this one, at least. It would be cool if it included a patch, but tbh my jacket's about full up. I'm pretty pleased as a fan going back thirty eight years that all one thousand of these die hard pressings were sold in less than 24 hours. What a comeback. Of course I listened to the opening title track ~ ALPHABETLAND ~ right off the bat, as it was the song available streaming for free to sample, and as anyone with any chump change left between their goddamn ears already knows, it's a straight-up killer rendering of the classic X-sound right in yer face. Damn it's good to be alive right at this particular moment in time.

    Today in my email I noted that the members of X have asked everyone who bought their album, "Okay - favorite song on ALPHABETLAND? Go!" so I have to note, this is precisely the moment in history that I finally decided to download the fucking Bandcamp app. I discovered its not designed to be dl'd to most computers [apparently only a Chromebook is suited for that] so I sighed and dl'd it to my iPhone X. That's ironic. And now I've listened to the first three tracks and I can say they are "all good"--but thus far, the title track stands tall as my favorite--so we'll see if there's another track on this beast of a record that manages to outshine it.

   Track 1. Alphabetland.  Right away you know this is the direct follow-up to MORE FUN IN THE NEW WORLD.  And it's a grand thing to feel the muscles in my face morph into a big smile. This song just has such a fun, catchy riff that you can't help but bop your head along to it. Just as it should be. You can tell upon the first listen that it's a song you couldn't possibly get tired of listening to over and over. It bodes well for the rest of the album and quite obviously serves as the perfect opener.

   Track 2. Free. My words are fire. My fist is raised. This is a straightforward X song, great riffs and solos from Billy Zoom, and while perhaps not destined to be the hottest track off this record, it delivers in the good old fashioned X manner that I don't think a lot of us thought we'd ever hear again. It definitely hits a mark and builds anticipation for the rest of the album to come.

   Track 3. Water & Wine. Great little drum intro from DJ Bonebrake kicks off this perkier song, yeah things pick up immediately in the first thirty seconds, we are back 100% on track with a straightforward rockabilly tinged high energy stomper. There's a heaven and there's a never, there's no tomorrow, only forever!  Billy Zoom does not disappoint on this album, in fact I think it's safe to say that all four original members finding themselves reunited at last are feeling the white hot fire in their veins again. Who has to wait at the end of the line? Who gets water and who gets wine?  If the music's this good I don't care which ends up being mine, cuz listening to this album makes me feel just fine.

    Track 4. Strange Life begins. Well John & Exene sound great, their harmonies intact, their lyrics biting. Billy Zoom (perhaps the coolest cat to play guitar & sax in the history of rock) has not lost his edge in delivering mean-as-a-rattlesnake riffs, and the legendary D.J. Bonebrake keeps the skins taut and snappin', as ever. A damn strange life indeed, it's turned out to be.

    Track 5. I Gotta Fever. Head boppin' right off the bat, I'm already listening to the album we all wished we'd gotten back in '87; i.e, the perfect follow up to their '83 pop punk masterpiece MORE FUN IN THE NEW WORLD. I can already tell that ALPHABETLAND is the sequel to that most fun and rollickin' of all their albums. (Bear with me, here, please. My personal favorites have always been WILD GIFT and UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN, and that hasn't changed.) With ALPHABETLAND, we're having EVEN MORE FUN IN THE GODDAMN NEW WORLD, m'k? Okay. 

   Track 6. Delta 88 Nightmare. Okay so this one I already heard of course, since I have the preliminary 7" on vinyl (ordered it from bandcamp back when it was first released, late last year). Let me just say this song rocks hardest of all the songs thus far. So if that's how you gauge your favorite--this song definitely outstrips the title track. For me, I sorta like to balance all aspects of music, so this song pulls right up alongside Alphabetland and gives it the middle finger behind dark sunglasses, smiling.

    Track 7. Star Chambered. Holy Moses I can already tell there will not be a bad song on this entire album, that much is obvious already. Then I just had to go! Exene's emoting and vocals are as strong as ever, if anything even more mature and resonant now than before. Where did I put my wings, I could never find those things, now I'm runnin', runnin' late, I might be stuck here at my gate, though you might be dearly departed, dearly departed, I'm just gettin' started. Hot damn them is some fine ass lyrics. This song just leapt up to #2, threatening to pull over onto the shoulder and spit gravel and dust into the faces of those other two songs. Hell yes.

    Track 8. Angel on the Road.  I love all these song titles. This one immediately reminds me of Angel Grub. (Thinking of you as I listen to this album!) Another rockin' track, full tilt ahead. I wish I was somewhere else. Somewhere I don't even know. I wish I was somewhere else. Making angels in the sno-oh-oh-oh!  *enter Billy Zoom solo*  This is great. I should've known they had this  in 'em!  It's not like I ever lost  faith in my generation or the generations before me. I've got the old school ethic raging in my veins, I still respect my elders. Hell, the more elderly, the more respect, straight up. It's about time some old dyed-in-the-wool punk rock royalty stepped up and showed all these kids how its done. Anyone who ever said "rock'n'roll is dead" gave up the ghost long ago. *spits*

   Track 9. Cyrano deBerger's Back.  Okay so this was the b-side to the Delta 88 Nightmare 7", so I heard it last Fall and thought it was a solid track.  Now hearing it again I'm struck by Billy Zoom's playful sax and the track's hopped up reggae sounding riffs, this could almost qualify as X playing Ska. Eminently dance worthy. I got ten arms for you under the balcony in blue. Another great track.

   Track 10. Goodbye Year, Goodbye.  Please don't make us cry.  How X managed to reunite and put this rockin' new album together will be discussed for years to come. I could go on and on and on and on. John Doe's singing is in tippy top shape here, as it is throughout the whole record. I can barely believe my ears--that this is actually happening!

   Track 11.  All The Time In The World. Hearts are breaking for hearts that are broken, so eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Or maybe next Tuesday for those of us without a battle flag to fly. The perfect album closer, with its honky tonk piano as backbone, and Exene reciting her post-beat poetry along to it, oh yeah. *fingersnaps* We are dust, it's true. And to dust we shall return, me and you. But it was fun while it lasted. All the time in the world turns out not to be that much. As the final, bittersweet notes fade away, I'm left with a feeling in my heart like the still glowing hot embers after a long night's raging bonfire party has died down. A feeling of solidarity envelops me, as if I'm left standing with the few die hards who didn't pass out or leave the party too early. Feels like the sun's about to rise and another dawn could just carry us all along into a bright new day.

   What an album!  This one's a no brainer.  X done knocked their seventh official album out of the damn park! (With all due respect to the guitarist who replaced Billy on their '93 album "hey Zeus!," it seems even the band themselves aren't counting it, to which I've no choice but to bow with whatever elegance remains in these bones, and a tip of the hat.) How about that. There ain't no more room for doubt.  X is back...with a vengeance!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

We Will Run

Walk down these dirty streets and they all look the fuckin' same.

So we will run to the end of this world  (holding hands)
We will rise above death (to see life for what it is)
All the lunatics are in control of the asylum
STFU we'll walk right by them they're the ones who never gave a damn

Everytime I look in your eyes
I see sad reflections of the dreams that you hide
You keep them guarded from a world they can't live in
And if I'm lost, maybe you will get lost too
And then we'll be lost together until we find some place new
We'll build a world in our own image

Burn out my eyes
I don't want to see
The things that you have, are not what I need
Burn a candle for me
My hope, my disease consumes your greed

Die, death waits over me
Takes my every need
My everything, you can take away
You can't handle me
You can't penetrate
Shot through your greed

Friday, August 30, 2019

Descending Again Under The Waves Of Incantation

   After hearing the album for the first time, I felt like I had just undergone a death trance. That is, I didn't move while plastered to the couch throughout the entire running length. After it was over and I let it all soak in, I decided to just listen to the song Descending again.  That's what's playing right now while I type this next iteration sinking into the undertow of Tool's seventh album, Fear Inoculum.

   Sound the dread Alarm through our primal body. While Tool sculpt a sonic terrain that's more or less a fusion between their iconic studio debut Undertow and 2001's forward thinking Lateralus, it leaves me pondering. That more or less places Aenima and 10,000 Days in their own strange little territories. In certain ways all their albums stylistically blend into one another. If, at over the nine minute mark in the song Descending, you aren't wallowing in the groovy synth tones and iterational guitar and drum jamming, then I don't know what to say, except apparently this sort of thing isn't for you. Well then. Away do go.

   Room for me leave, please. Adam is crushing it on this album, stitching and weaving together, with his percussive and painterly band mates Danny and Justin, a sonic terrain that recalls and reflects upon where they've all been as a band and where they're still exploring forward full tilt.   WTF was that chocolate chip trip? It's a spelled out hex played out on sticks, is what it is. And 7empest is a flat out tip of the hat to those Undertow fans among us, giving Justin the opportunity to deliver his homage to Paul and the Sylvia Massy production style they emerged onto the scene with, sort of blended with the pyrotechnical mathematical fusion of Lateralus.

   That first sound we hear on the album, the weird struck tone like a shrinking reflected puddle in a piece of metal diminishing, its watery shimmery echo evokes a certain expectation in the listener. We are about to embark on quite a sonic journey. Immunity, long overdue. Contagion, I exhale you. These are more than simple, powerful lyrics. They are part and parcel of the incantatory ritual this album dovetails into with immaculate grace. Inoculated, bless this immunity. Inculcated, the allegorical elegy gets woven. I think it bespeaks of an individual's journey progressing along our evolutionary pathway. The seventh iteration of the developing spiral begins flowering into the octagonal. Hence Alex Grey's arachnohominid skeleton depicted on the front and back covers of the CD booklet. I take it more as a symbol of humanity's movement. The blurring produces the extra arms, after Shiva and other mythological chimeras. I figure this may be attributable to the composite totality of humanity. Individuals overlaid in tandem produce the octohedral capacity for induction.

   The song Pneuma gets right to the vital spirit and creative force of the album. Remember. We are born of one breath, one word. We are all one spark, Sun becoming. Wake up now, child. And rock.
Bound to this flesh, this guise, this mask, this dream, wake up, remember, we are born of one breath, one word, we are all one spark, Sun becoming. At the six and a half minute mark, the song decays into instrumentality, widening open the spaces in between the sounds to reveal a seething vacuum of interplaying harmonics fusing into an underlying rhythm the tablas and bass and synthesizer begin tracing out, and we're off once again on a deeper iteration of the theme, sinking even farther into the undercurrent yet, until we realize this is a much deeper river than we'd anticipated. We're swimming easy now in dark open waters beneath our oceanic mind. Down here at these depths anything may arise, lurking from the dark. Danny's cymbal crashes strengthened by Adam's suddenly picking up the slack with some crunchy guitar riffage having naturally emerged from the dynamics again, Pneuma. Eyes full of wonder. The motifs resolve themselves in crashing grandeur. The players give each other plenty of time to fill in their respective blanks.

   Each song on this album gives the listener plenty of time for devotion. The opening guitar strumming of Invincible displays some of Adam's most intricate and best sounding playing yet. He's taking his time focusing on crafting these intricate stenciled out guitar signatures. Long in tooth and soul, longing for another wind, it seems as if the fates have granted this request.  Warrior struggling to remain consequential. If these words don't mean anything to you they are not supposed to. But here I am. Beating chest and drums. Beating tired bones again. Age old battle, mine. Weapon out and belly in. Tales told of battles won, of things we've done. Caligula would grin. Well doesn't that just say it all, my lost Grub brother(s). Beating tired bones, tripping through remember when. Once invincible, now the armor's wearing thin. Heavy shield down. Some songs were just written that speak directly to your experience. It just so happens this entire band's lyrical legacy echoes my own autobiography, more or less. I can't help this coincidence, but I happen to suspect it's universal. Otherwise, why would I take it so personal? At least to my ears, the devoted gents in this band have not let me down. That's all that really matters when you get right down to it. And if we all get right down to it, then who am I to object? We're all invited to join this party. Come drink from this water for its depths are infinite. At the seven minute and fifty-two second mark, the song descends into spacey instrumentalism and finally begins, and then Maynard returns with a phantom tinged echo to his vocals as he sings about feeling the sting of time bearing down. It's not really a young man's thing, I suppose. These are the cadences of older, weathered warriors. Its the battle march of the more worn tribes who won't put their weapons down, not because they're on the verge of attack but because those swords are fused to their hands by now. So they wield them sonically in a tapestry of vengeful lamentation and determination to make it to the finish line.

   And make it there they do, the wavering finish line turns out to be the undulating and gently curved water's edge of the incoming surf from the sea. The sound of the waves crashing in on the sand accompanies our descending under the waves with this band once again. If we're willing to wear the necessary aquanaut's gear in a face sealed mask and breathe pure oxygen through a tube for an extended period of time, we're welcome along for this exploratory ride.  This madness of our own making. These odes we are taking to the quick are ours to receive if we're open to them. Drifting through this boundlessness.  Sometime in the middle of my second listen I was inoculated. Maybe it's because I'm wearing headphones.  Maybe it's because I'm actually listening to the music. Paying attention until the end of each track. I've found that for every second captured in this recording, it's necessary to provide an equal duration of time paying attention to it. In this way the rewards are merited.

   Jonesy really lets it all out, that solo in Descending is outstanding. They deliver a torrential outpouring of emotional content with this album. Every track nimbly covers the elemental time signatures and syncopation evoking the spirit channeled by the band since the beginning. I suppose if this gets old for you then you really never liked it that much in the first place. Because what I'm listening to right now is the glorious sound of what each and every one of us devoted to the band years ago want to hear right about now. I don't know about you I'm only speaking for myself here. This is my review.  Thorny's a happy camper with these elegies blowing through his ears.

   Hallelujah, the day has arrived. August 30 during the Year of the Replicant has vaccinated us all against the falsely perpetuated virus of fear proliferating across the internet and social utility networks like Facebook and Twitter and infecting a staggering percentage of the populace. Listening to this album melts away all of that to reveal the reality of our own personal struggle with freedom. The more I listen the wider my eyes open in wonder at what I'm hearing, here and now at this particular juncture of the unfolding universe.  I am alive and breathing in this space and time. I won't have my voice culled by the disembodied machine. I won't be added to the hitlist of your false accusations based on your fuzzy psychopathic misperceptions. In the court of public opinion we are already condemned. Fight back tooth and nail and link arm in arm with friend. Otherwise we'll all be drowned in the end. Under the growing surging tide of blank mirrored faces lined up with more and more accusations. We are all innocent while nothing remains proven. Better pack your bags and get movin'. Keep up with the rhythm of the flow. It's in every beat and pulse in this undertow. It's part of what this album's all about. Now hear me from my desktop as I shout.

   I'm surprised how much time the band took to craft this masterpiece. I don't mean to suggest I'm astonished at the length of the interval. Rather, I'm impressed that they actually worked at it long enough to yield such exquisite results in every way conceivable.  I'm not a Christ posing acolyte mindlessly worshiping at the stained window altar of Tool, mind you. I'm just a rocker who digs a good tune.  I'm just a  poet who howls at the moon.  I love heavy music and ambient too. What the fuck else do you expect me to do.  Go listen to your noise, boys.  Don't you dare point that shit at me. This music is not for you. It's something personal I like to do. Sounds like I'll be privately jamming to this album for a mighty long time. The  tickets for the tour in support of this album were just announced but they better not have gone on sale. I'm going to have to acquire one for myself.  The lads are back on the aural attack at last. Those tix are going to sell fast. I heard they go on sale September sixth. Meanwhile plenty of ads are scalping them now, it seems. If I score this ticket it'll be the eleventh time of my dreams seeing Tool live. The last time I think was w/Isis in 2005.

   The extended drum solo jamathon that is Chocolate Chip Trip is simply a gift from Danny to his legion of fans. Nevermind the teeming sea of people who are mainly into the band.  There are so many angles and perspectives and reasons to soak up or otherwise immerse yourself into this music. The seventh and final track, 7empest, becomes the apotheosis of what the band represents. Not a bad way to spend seventy-nine minutes. Maynard sounds great. They're all in tip-top shape. By far ten stars. Now get back to your plugged-in, programmed life. May your existence remain without strife. And may your signal get enough bars. And listen to Gary Numan's Cars.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

the silent ash tip drops

can't even summon the words
so i put on BPB mix tape volume 1

Now it's doing a trick 

    push  PLAY  and just drift

Gimme yr goddamn Wild berry Lifesaver Gummies

This is a great collexion of songs
put tugether by the master and
everyone himself

   On   to the next   

    John Shirley sent me his latest album with the Screaming Geezers .
It's really top-notch rock'n'roll, fully driven and furious, I'm stunned.
1st track Cell Phone Zombies is great, the whole album just delivers
one killer track after another, there's newer stuff like Ten Strippers at
My Funeral, but the band also covers older material like Johnny Paranoid
and Our Love is Like a Death Camp.   There's a gritty version of
Mountain of Skullz, a rousing rendition of Alice Cooper's Under My Wheels,
and a new song that really got to me, Crushed Under a Cross.
This is relentless, punk fury as if the Stooges were being led by
well you guessed it--the man himself--John Shirley.

Check out the song Strychnine right here on SoundCloud.
While you there just keep listening to all the John Shirley songs.
Far as I'm concerned he's one of my favorite rockers ever.
I mean all you gotta do is listen to him covering TV Eye.
And him and his band's scorching cover of White Light.
 Yeah, he's more than Iggy, Lou, and Alice rolled into one.
He's the Dark Duke of the Underground's #1 Son.

And Dax Riggs is the prince, of course. 
I wish he'd release another album.
It's been nine years since he said
goodnight to the world...oh

            I    see