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by Jason Gross

13 Aug 2009

Even if you’re not an Aerosmith fan (I happen to like ‘em), you have to feel for a band that’s had such bad luck on their recent tour, or rather, they’ve fallen victim to a common condition for classic rockers now—it’s called age and it ain’t always pretty, especially for a set of heroes who are supposed to be forever young (but can’t be).

It started recently when singer Steve Tyler took an accidental fall off of a stage (not a stage dive, mind you).  The poor guy had to go home to recuperate and the news that slowly dribbled out included show cancellations and the threat the rest of their recent tour could be scrapped.

And this wasn’t even the start of the recent health problems that the band’s had on this tour. Read the list of ailments from the last link above and you’ll see a leg injury, knee infection and surgery, head injury and ‘non-invasive surgery’, not to mention throat cancer and hepatitis C bouts in the last few years. So far only drummer Joey Kramer has escaped maladies recently.

by John Bohannon

13 Aug 2009

Opiate Sun
(Caldo Verde)
Releasing: 27 October (US)

With bands like the Angelic Process, Alcest, and now Phil Elverum (aka Mount Eerie), a whole new world has opened up for heavy music, large in part because of Jesu mastermind Justin Broadrick’s tireless effort to not settle for the conventional sounds of metal. The effort has become to make this loud, abrasive music become melodic and sentimental—something Jesu’s latest track, “Deflated” is somewhat the pinnacle of. Its drop-tuned doom riffage is buried into a swarm of melodic guitar melodies and quite possibly one of the best vocal performances of Broadrick’s career. The track builds beautifully behind slightly atonal sustained chords into a stoner shoegaze haze while Broadrick chants, “You give me reason.” How’s that for hardcore.

Oddly enough, it somehow makes sense that Opiate Sun, the EP on which this track is contained, will be released on Caldo Verde Records, Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon songsmith Mark Kozelek’s imprint. Hands down, this is the heaviest thing Kozelek has ever released (and he is doing so after being duly impressed by a Jesu show in 2007), but he is no stranger to spastic guitar passages –- something he experimented with earlier in his career. Opiate Sun is due out October 27th, and info on what formats it will be released on is TBD.

01 Losing Streak
02 Opiate Sun
03 Deflated
04 Morning Light

“Deflated” [MP3]

by Mehan Jayasuriya

13 Aug 2009

Let it not be said that the members of Radiohead don’t know how to employ the element of surprise. Just a few short days after loosing uncharacteristic new track “Harry Patch (In Memory Of)”, the band made headlines again when frontman Thom Yorke told the Believer that, “None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again.” This quote was, of course, quickly spun out of context, with blog commenters the world over fearfully predicting that there would be no new material from Radiohead for the foreseeable future. In fact, Yorke was hinting that the opposite was true: by leveraging their direct-to-fan distribution platform, the band hoped to release music in fits and spurts, in the form of EPs and singles. If anything, Yorke seemed to suggest that we would be seeing new music from the band very soon indeed. 
It’s curious, then, that just a few days later, we should happen upon this: “These Are My Twisted Words,” an allegedly “leaked” MP3 that sounds an awful lot like a new Radiohead song. The track surfaced on the At Ease fan messageboard yesterday, accompanied by little more than a title. On peer-to-peer networks, however, the lone MP3 was flanked by an “nfo” file, containing a cryptic, Yorke-esque rant hinting at an August 17th release date.

And what of the song itself? It’s a guitar-heavy number, awash with seasick, cascading arpeggios yet firmly-rooted by a syncopated drum line and a deep bass groove. The vocals don’t kick in until just past the 2:30 mark but when they do, the sound of Yorke’s cheerless moan is nigh unmistakable. For all its mystery, the track would feel right at home among the back-to-basics numbers of Hail to the Thief.

So is this a new Radiohead song or not? While all signs seem to point toward ‘yes’, as of yet, there’s no confirmation from the band or their management. In the meantime, why not decide for yourself?

by Bill Gibron

13 Aug 2009

It is still the quest of many a young naïve dreamer - take your talent (no matter how major or marginal), pack up a bag, leave your wholesome hometown in the dust, and head out to Hollywood. There, set yourself up in some fleabag rat trap, spend your days pounding the pavement and your nights waiting tables, resolute in your desire to “make it big”. Sure, there are pitfalls along the way - conmen and casting couches, phony film insiders and experts in exploitation (personal or otherwise) - but you believe you have the goods. You’re convinced you’ll make it. Of course, when you don’t, it’s the end of the world and a true sense of desperation takes over. And as the incredible new comedy Attack of the Slime People proves, when you’re needy, you’ll do anything - including a few things that aren’t quite legal.

Former filmmaking hotshot Buddy Flavinoid is having a bad day. Actually, it’s been a horrible couple of years. Believing himself to be the best director in Tinseltown (and he has the homemade shrine to prove it) his last production, The Attack of the Atomic Reptiles, tanked. The reason? Buddy hated the original actor hired to play the lead, so he bludgeoned him to death and recast the part. Though he got away with it, the crime has haunted him ever since. Now a mysterious backer wants to finance his latest film - Attack of the Slime People - and Buddy is having the same problem. He wants the Elvis-like Tadd Bentley to star. But producer Dick Goldberg and his saucy assistant Shelia think that stalker/obsessive Sydney Point would be a much better choice. Up against the wall once again, Buddy has no choice but to break out the old Louisville slugger and start solving his problems.

Imagine David Lynch’s demented sitcom On the Air retrofitted for the ‘50s b-movie biz mixed with a hilariously healthy dose of baseball bat wielding spree killing and you have some idea of the unsane madness that is Attack of the Slime People. It is safe to say that there has probably been no greater illustration of Hollywood’s dehumanizing effect on talent than this clever, quirky bit of burlesque. With a terrific tour de force performance by co-writer/co-producer Robert Tiffi and spot on era-appropriate direction from Martin King, what could have been artificial and phony becomes arch and very, very funny. This is the kind of quirky exercise where character traits are amplified to running gag perfection, where our leads ever-present smile turns from inviting to insidious at the drop of a dime novel. When combined with a terrific set of side personalities, a viscous Chihuahua, and a snarky sense of satire, the results are truly memorable.

King conceives this entire project as a clever bit of space age bachelor padding. The retro feel is so ripe you can almost smell the sour gin sweat of Flavinoid’s favorite local dive bar. In the lead, Tiffi is terrific, never once playing the role as realistic. Instead, this is one flailing filmmaker who comes across as a combination of Tex Avery’s cartoon and a walking insurance ad. Flavinoid is so clueless, and Tiffi is so brilliant at portraying this disconnect, that we’re amazed when he manages to do anything other than walk aimlessly in circles. This over-the-top tool has his drawbacks, meaning we never really sympathize with his production plight, but King keeps things in check. This is even true of ancillary characters like the slyly psycho Sydney Point or Flavinoid’s elephantine assistant Marge.

Indeed, while Tiffi gets all the close-ups and the cast gets to play period piece dress up, our director handles it all expertly, keeping things light and breezy. This is the kind of mannered material that could get easily bogged down in its desire to be purposefully kitschy and/or camp (read: the lame Lost Skeleton of Cadavera). But thanks to some excellent restraint on King’s part and the exceptional casting overall, what could be tedious instead comes across as electric. Even better, Attack of the Slime People has a subtle statement to make about selling out for the sake of proposed stardom - the title even gives it away. In the irritated ingénue Allison Hayes, a wistful young thing who just can’t believe she has to sleep her way into schlock cinema irrelevance, we get all kinds of well-honed warnings. She often sounds like the voice of the filmmakers speaking directly to an audience of wannabe indie actors and auteurs.

What’s really great about Attack of the Slime People, outside of the expert way it handles its hilarity, is that King and Tiffi are fearless in their desire to entertain. They inject all kinds of mayhem into this movie, from goofy fake names (just try and pronounce police detective Bacon’s moniker - I dare you) to Flavinoid’s issue with dogs. The insider jabs, like namedropping and referencing, also work well, as do the times when King just holds the camera on his star and lets those slightly smoke-stained pearly whites do the talking. From his frequent hooker show/slap downs to the spastic way he carries himself, Buddy Flavinoid is a crazy cult creation - and a surefire cinema superstar. Even if Ed Wood truly could direct rings around this stilted human statue, he’d never have our hero’s flair for flopsweat.

In a realm which regularly congratulates itself for being better and more artistically in touch with its source inspiration than the audience it caters to, it’s nice to see a clever collaboration like Attack of the Slime People. While budgetary reasons keep us from ever witnessing a frame of Flavinoid’s failed oeuvre (it would be super sweet to check out some Atomic Reptile sequences, though), we really don’t need the added illustration. It’s clear from their approach and attention to detail that King and Tiffi totally understand this filmic failure. If he isn’t Hollywood hope perverted, he’s definitely the dream deferred. It’s easy to see why so many Tinseltown types move from a night of 1000 stars to a day with the locusts. Attack of the Slime People may sound like another typical bit of Bert I. Gordon ‘50s falderal. Instead, it’s an outsider send-up that’s as cheeky as it is clever. 

by Rob Horning

13 Aug 2009

Sharing once seemed to me a simple, straightforward thing, but the way tech and social media companies have co-opted it recently have made me increasingly suspicious of it. In the usage that is starting to become prevalent, sharing isn’t a matter of giving over a portion of a desirable thing to others. Instead it is a code word for what is in fact a mode of online production, for labor that we perform ostensibly for the benefit of friends we explicitly connect ourselves with in networks but ultimately for the benefit of the companies who hold the fruits of our effort on their servers. When we “share” via upload, we aren’t sharing at all, we are working to move information and data into digital space where it can be manipulated and harvested for profit.

Facebook’s recent acquisition of FriendFeed, a service that turns everything you upload to various sites into a single RSS stream, threatens to make the cant about sharing even worse. In this piece for The Big Money, Chadwick Matlin argues that the acquisition is Facebook’s effort to corner the market in “social aggregation”—that is, to evolve into a kind of Google Reader in which instead of subscribing to blogs, you subscribe to people. Matlin likens the effort to the Huffington Post, which aggregates and filters content to make it all managable, only with FreindFeed and Facebook, your friends will filter what you read, not strangers.

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