Sight & Sound

VIDEO: Arliss Nancy – “Both Got Old”

Without doubt, one of my favorite records this year was Arliss Nancy’s Wild American Runners, a record I said “put the American in American Rock Music“. It’s the truth, and in support of the record the band have just unveiled the video for the track “Both Got Old”.

Simple, straight forward, a little rustic, but as American as can be without it becoming a John Mellencamp video. There’s a lot of beard action going in the video but don’t let that be a deterrent of any kind.

The song is from Wild American Runners but is also a cut from a split 7″ the band released with Those Crosstown Rivals which features a track from the band each, but if you purchase the record digitally, you get two bonus tracks to go along with it. The 7″ is available physically and digitally via Shit Starter Records.

Check out the video below:

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Culture, Music

The Bitter Reality: “Black Flag” is dead

In a strange but not entirely unexpected turn of events, Ron Reyes has quit/been fired from “Black Flag” once again. In a bizarre on-stage firing at the tail end of their recent Australian sojourn, Reyes was unceremoniously booted with two songs left on the set list. The band of course, was one half of the two “reunited” renditions of the once legendary punk band. In a long and revealing statement, Reyes has stated that the band “fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that.” But more telling than anything, it seems that Reyes had an inkling this entire project was doomed to fail. In the statement, Reyes says;

[quote]“The writing was on the wall since before we played our first show. So many things went wrong from the start. I was into things like having a good drummer, rehearsing and spending time on things like beginnings and endings of songs, being a little less distracted with tour life and a little more on the ball. You know things that would make our efforts worthy of the name Black Flag”[/quote]

It’s funny and painfully sad to think of course, the once great legacy of a band that influenced so many has fallen into such disgrace. Like Reyes, we expected as much. Back in July of this year, we wrote a piece titled ‘Black Flags and Idol Suicides‘ and in it, Brad Abraham asks the simple question that plagued the formations of both these bands; “why?”. Why did we need “Black Flag” and “Flag”? The truth is, we didn’t, and we still don’t. The farce in which this has descended down to is testament to this notion.

If you’ve had a listen to the new “Black Flag” album (that may be thrown into doubt now with Reyes’ departure), you can hear the sound of a tired, aged, decrepit band struggling to find relevance where it didn’t need to. Abraham goes on in the piece to ask a few more pertinent questions and with the recent turn of events, they are more relevant than ever:

Why subject your fans to this tired display?

Why ruin something that was perfect?

Why bring middle-aged dissatisfaction to youth rebellion?”

Why indeed, for this mess. Speculation is that Greg Ginn will continue the band with someone else on vocals, but it would seem that such action would do little to change the situation. There is nothing wrong with remembering the past, especially one that is so gloriously influential and historically significant to an entire youth movement. But to let it break and burn like this? It’s just sad. Could it be that a small part of this debacle is due to the current climate of monetary possibilities these bands did not once have? Are we all partly to blame? Our culture of famous-now, money-now music industry means one-time cash-starved beacons of struggle and revolution can embark on a new monetized rehashing of their once lauded legacy. There is no stopping that, but don’t expect us not to comment when it disintegrates.

How did Brad Abraham get it so right? How did he nail the whole situation right on its head in one sentence? It is in this case of Ron Reyes, Greg Ginn, Keith Morris and the rest of the parties involved masquerading as the corpse of Black Flag, a statement that bears repeating;

For the aging punk rockers who have carried out this charade, one lesson will be imprinted on them- you can’t repeat the past.

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Culture, Headlines

Bill Cosby is Far From Finished

It’s hard to imagine a comedic world without Bill Cosby. For the longest time it seems that Cosby has been part of the comedic fabric of our existence. Decades and decades of material and generations upon generations, Cosby has been a constant. Comedy of course, has been changing and evolving, and the slate of current contemporary comedians are mostly cut from a different mould than the one Cosby was cut from. He’s been at for 50 years, and yet while his humour is somewhat outmoded to what we get from successful stand up of today- Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Carr, Russell Peters et al.- there’s just something about Cosby that still resonates in the digital age.

Far From Finished is a brand new stand-up special Cosby filmed for Comedy Central; a left field home for someone whose humour is acquainted more with the PG crowd than the crass, overly sexualised brand of current humour. It’s evident from the beginning too, where Cosby, who spends much of the special sitting down rather than standing, opens the show with a disclaimer about doing a special for Comedy Central. Yet as the routine unfolds, you forget the need to hear humour that is more akin to some of the aforementioned comedians. In fact, it’s refreshing. Cosby spends much of the routine talking about the ins and outs of marriage, the fraternal bond between friends, and the hilarious differences between the two. One bit that stands in particular being his routing about forgetting his home security code and dealing with the consequences of a fed up wife and an equally fed up security operator.

There are of course, the hallmark qualities of a good Cosby show; his blips and bloops, his Cosby facial mannerisms and his deft timing. Through it all however, you do immediately get the sense of his longevity and his age; much of his physical comedy is left to his face and hands. Yet while he’s discernibly older and a little slower, there is still a vibrancy to him.

The DVD version of this special is much longer than the version that aired on Comedy Central this past week. Both versions are recommended for those who enjoy Cosby humour, but the DVD edition is broken down into parts so that the viewer can ease from and back into the routine. His legacy is more telling than a singular special, but this one is more about adding to one. It may not be as memorable as his 1983 masterpiece Himself (how could it be?), it is a simple reminder than Cosby is indeed, far from finished.

 

Bill Cosby: Far From Finished is available now on DVD/Blu-Ray and as a digital download. You can check out some clips and highlights here.

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Sight & Sound

Listen: Bruce Springsteen – “High Hopes”

One of the most memorable things about seeing Bruce Springsteen live this past March was his incredible energy through the near 4-hour show. Springsteen shows no signs of slowing down either as a new album, his eighteenth, is due out January 2014. The new material will be followed by another trek across the globe (including Australia) next February.

The album, titled High Hopes, features the reworked title track originally recorded back in 1995 as part of the Greatest Hits sessions. The song has been re-recorded and will be the lead off single from the album, and the new version can be heard below. The new version of the song came from the suggestion of touring member and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who had convinced Springsteen to add the song to their recent set list.

Springsteen recalls the events leading up the song’s reworked Morellosization;

[quote]”I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add “High Hopes” to our live set.  I had cut “High Hopes,” a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the LA based Havalinas, in the 90?s.  We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it.  We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with “Just Like Fire Would,” a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, The Saints (check out “I’m Stranded”).  Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level.  Thanks for the inspiration Tom.”[/quote]

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Culture, Headlines, Music

One for Massachusetts

It’s been more than ten years since I’ve been to Philadelphia, a decade removed from its heritage and first hand lessons in American history. Equally historical were the venues scattered on South Street and Arch Street where many of my earliest punk rock memories were formed. In the Theatre of Living Arts and the Trocadero, nights of sweat, blood and bruises became as much a part of my Philadelphia story as the times I spent learning about the Liberty Bell. These moments defined the city and all these years pass and I still breathe the packed monoxide air of those age-old venue floors. It’s been even longer since I went to Boston. So much so that I only vaguely remember the wood-clad structure of my hotel, who for architectural reasons beyond me, built their vast spaces horizontally instead of vertically. But I do remember the No-Name Restaurant, not it’s food or it’s locale, but the name, a tick for clever marketing and little else.

Boston has seen plenty since: thousands of bands have come and gone, the Boston Red Sox won three World Series, the Patriots three Super Bowls, and the Celtics hung up another championship banner. They’ve suffered immeasurable tragedy with the Boston Marathon attacks, and have banded together as a city and a region to lift each others’ spirits in the time after. All these events along with what I can assume are countless smaller, more localized strings of positivism would lead one to believe that the air of sadness and toil that appeared to envelope the city for so long has been lifted. It is not to say Boston is a sad town, in fact, I don’t remember it being so, but as a tourist and an outsider, the many elements that we encounter as being from Boston or part of it, left a melancholia that came with what were inept sports teams, terrible weather, and a gloomy disposition left in the shadow of taller, more famous cities. Boston hardcore, noted for their contribution through SS Decontrol, Gang Green, DYS and Jerry’s Kids, wasn’t exactly the plum of sunshine you’d need to get over lagging blues.

So what is my Boston? My Boston, the one I briefly knew, fueled by the angry and disenfranchised, came to fruition in a band that lasted one album, 12 songs, and a quiet influence that resonated long after their demise. The Hurt Process by Boxer, this is my Boston.

Part post-hardcore, part mid-nineties emo, Boxer still encompasses all that is the city; gritty, desolate, pained- jarring for the senses but cathartic in its connection. This is what Boston was like to someone who had never lived in Boston. Perhaps if you disagree, then it is something you need to take up with your local tourist board.

Boxer was Vagrant Records’ initial signing, the calling card for a label whose stock rose because their bands wore their hearts on their sleeves better than anyone else. We talk a lot about The Get Up Kids with Something to Write Home About and Saves the Day with Stay What You Are. These two are often considered the staple releases of the early Vagrant catalogue, but we fail to see that the very first band they ever signed, released an album just as poignant as the two, if only, not as polished.

It’s the opening line of “Blame It On The Weather” that feels perfectly Boston. It’s the stringy guitars and the pulsing bass line that accompanies it. It’s the percussions that kick in at just the right time, and it’s the voice that sounds like it has smoked a thousand cigarettes that chime in;

Sitting in my ditch of self-loathing and of course my mind is roaming / thinking things are worse than they appear to be

Listen: “Blame it On the Weather”
Boxer – Blame It On the Weather

And then there were the girls, or one in particular whose name may or may not have been Georgia. Her hair smelled like a season and she sounds like a girl who liked music you’d only play on a record player. She probably liked the Velvet Underground on Sunday afternoons but wore combat boots and spiked her hair on a Friday night. She’s someone you’d fall in love with from the deepest of your soul only to break your heart. This is the little Georgia girl Boxer sings about, with a sense of sadness and anger wrapped in crunchy mid-tempo riffs and couplets of disappointment. She’s the one that kept you up at night, 2:18am. She’s the one that you’ll forget someday, just not today, the one you’re waiting for, when the sun finally comes, it’ll be when you’ll stop missing her.

Listen: “Georgia”
Boxer – Georgia

It’s the romanticism of a troubled city that drives people to write great songs about it. It is the way the rain falls on a lonely streetlight that inspires, and I think Boston has more than one lonely streetlight. I think if I get to drive through Boston some time soon, my mind would automatically play these 12 songs in order. Appropriately perhaps, the album’s title understood the city’s plight on both a personal and cultural stake and its significance on a national and global scale. This was a hurting town, whether you were a fan of sporting teams, music scenes or girls named after southern states. Yet on some level, they knew that this sadness would only last for so long. That someday you could finally leave it all behind.

We wait until the sun goes down in Boston, the stars are out / We’ll have our way; our time will shine like the twinkle that’s in your eye

Listen: “One for Milwaukee”
Boxer – One For Milwaukee

There is something to be said about not overstaying your welcome. Boxer knew 12 songs were enough. It was for that moment, the perfect capsule of the streets and places no one but themselves knew and understood. I can’t for one imagine any more songs written or recorded by them. It would be strange and out of place, almost like happiness and sunshine down on Harvard Avenue. I would never claim to be from Boston, and I can’t tell you what it’s like now. I can only imagine at least, with all the things that has happened to the city over the past decade, that there has to have been an uplift of some kind. In fact, I’m sure it’s a terribly nice place to visit. But for an outsider like me, until I get to venture down a sun-soaked path leading to the friendliest bar in town, Boston will always be The Hurt Process, where it rains or snows every night.

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Boxer formed in 1995 and disbanded in 1999. Vagrant Records released their one album, The Hurt Process, in 1998. Drummer Chris Pennie recently drummed for Coheed & Cambria and the Dillinger Escape Plan. 

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Sight & Sound

Watch: NOFX fan video for “Stoke Extinguisher”

Not too long ago San Francisco punks NOFX put out a call to their fans to create a video for their upcoming single “Stoke Extinguisher” as part of a contest. The caveat being that contestants would have no idea what the song sounded like when they made the video outside of a few clues (good ones like “fast part”, “slow part”).

The contest is now over and NOFX have posted the first finalist of the contest; a rather great Lego stop-motion video. The official word from Fat Mike and company reads;

[quote]”After countless submissions, and hours of watching ALL the vids in their entirety, and yes, we even watched the full THREE minutes of a slug crawling up a wall (thanks for that), we’ve narrowed it down to three winners. We’ll be rolling all three out over the next couple weeks and we’re starting off with a pretty fuckin’ cool display of lego wizardry.”[/quote]

You’ll be able to vote for the winner once all three finalists are up.

The song “Stoke Extinguisher” is the first taste of new material since 2012’s full length album Self-Entitled and will be available for purchase starting today.

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Trailers

Trailer watch: True Detective

HBO have just revealed the new trailer for their gritty upcoming drama True Detective. Premiering January 12th, True Detective stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and trace two detectives’ hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana across seventeen years. The show’s unique structure will showcase new characters each season, with its premiere season featuring 8 in total.

Co-stars include Kevin Dunn, Elizabeth Reaser and Michelle Monaghan.

Looks serious.

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