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Man, the American rock and roll scene just got discernibly smaller.

I’ll defer to the bigger Big Star fans (of whom there are many) to properly eulogize this American rock icon.

I’ll simply say, for now, that while many people (understandably) associate Chilton’s best work with the ’70s, he was still making serious noise in the ’90s. Quite by chance, as we eased past Y2K, I stumbled upon the truly bizarre, and beautiful, album he made with Alan Vega and Ben Vaughn, 1996’s Cubist Blues.

If you are a fan, or if you are curious (check out the clip below and I dare you to not be hooked) it comes highly recommended. This is midnight of the soul mixed with ’50s Beat energy and what Elvis would sound like if he had ever tried to channel Jerry Lee Lewis, drunk. Only one million times deeper and darker and, for my money, more satisfying. This is at once deliberate, narcotic and wonderfully disorienting. It’s like you walked into the wrong bar and stumbled onto a one-off jam session featuring a bunch of bruised and wily underground legends, laying it all on the line for nobody but themselves. Which is exactly what this album is.

Back in September 2003 the east coast was about to get rocked by a hurricane named Isabel. We knew it was coming, and it was one even the TV weathermen couldn’t get wrong. We didn’t know how bad it was going to be and fortunately, for D.C. denizens, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It got darker and later, and once the wind really started blowing and the rain began pounding down, I knew exactly what album I needed to have playing. Cubist Blues came through for me before, and has come through since, but I’ll always consider this an ideal soundtrack for a hurricane.

The band Behemoth has always been blatant in their views about religion. All of their albums are pervaded with anti-religious and pro-Satanic lyrics, themes, and images. The band’s live shows are also filled with similar ideology, as frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski can’t go more than ten minutes without shouting some anti-Christian epithet that gets the crowd roaring. This has always been a risk for the Polish blackened death metal stars, since many areas of the world—including their own home country—protect the religious views of citizens under law. Behemoth experienced this firsthand when Ryszard Nowak, head of the All-Polish Committee for Defense Against Sects, attempted to sue the band in 2008 for tearing up a Bible onstage at a September 2007 concert in the city of Gdynia. In Poland, it is a criminal offense to offend a person’s religious beliefs, but in order for someone to be charged with such an offense, at least two complaints need to be filed. So the case was dismissed at that time. However, on Monday, March 8th, the case was re-opened and Nergal was formally charged after an unspecified number of other complaints were filed for the Bible-tearing incident. Nergal is pleading not guilty, but if found guilty, he will face up to two years of prison time.

The knee-jerk reactions of the metal community were predictable. Metal fans immediately cried foul, insisting that Nergal’s actions were protected free speech. A number of metal news websites began publishing stories decrying Poland’s laws as archaic and intolerant. Nergal’s own testimony under cross examination in the case’s first hearing was that his actions onstage are part of artistic license and not meant to offend religious beliefs.

Back in December, AEG Live, Action 3D and Cinedigm released Larger Than Life in 3D. The 90-minute theatrical concert movie featured performances from Dave Mathews, Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello from the 2009 Austin City Limits Festival. It was a limited one-week run to test out a new kind of theatrical concert experience filmed and presented in full 3D HD. Did it successfully usher in a brand new bread of concert film or did it’s lack of cinematic storytelling rock fans to sleep?

Larger Than Life was the first of several other 3D theatrical concerts AEG Live plans to release in 2010. When I heard the news last fall I thought that they had captured footage from 2009 music festivals like Lollapalooza, All Points West and Mile High Music Festival, I thought about all the ways this could revolutionize how we relive our favorite concerts experiences, or even influence what we expect from real live concerts. I initially considered it a move that would forever change the art of the concert film, too. I also wondered if Larger Than Life would be an improvement on the U2, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus or even the Micheal Jackson This Is It IMAX concert experiences.

“Lovesong” - The Cure
Lyrics by Robert Smith
Music by Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Roger O’Donnell, and Laurence Tolhurst
From Disintegration, Elektra Records, 1989

An earlier edit of this V-C-V was first published December 6, 2005 on pcmunoz.com

I’m the first to admit that I was quite the funky-come-lately when it comes to The Cure. When they first came to my attention in the early ‘80s, I was too knee deep in funk and early hip-hop to give them much of an ear, even though I definitely dug Gary Numan, Lene Lovich, and other darkish new-wavey types who were flirting with the funk/dance rhythms of the day.

The Cure’s absence from my collection doesn’t mean I wasn’t aware of why the group was popular, or what Smith was all about. I had heard their more popular songs all over the place, and as a young musician, I made a habit of reading all of the interviews in the music magazines I purchased, whether or not I was a fan of the interviewee. Over the years, I found that I always enjoyed reading interviews with Robert Smith, though I still resisted picking up the albums, for some reason. They became one of those bands whom I respected by default, but never really investigated.

When playing Patrick & Eugene’s debut album for the first time, get ready to raise some eyebrows.  It starts with a simple ukelele melody, followed by some sweet vocals, then a thumping dance beat, a horn section, and next thing you know ... you’re probably dancing to it (and that’s all before the saxophones and whistles come in). 

Yes, Patrick & Eugene’s style is a bit off-beat, but the UK band makes no apologies for their relentlessly optimistic music, and this might explain why the duo has done as well as they have, with their debut album Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees receiving all sorts of raves while the track “The Birds and the Bees” has been spotted in a national VW ad. Toss in a cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” that wouldn’t sound too out of place on the Borat soundtrack and some ridiculously playful live shows, and you the recipe for something genuinely special.

Now, the one and only Eugene Bezoids takes part in PopMatters’ 20 Questions feature, discussing how good he’d look in an ellipsis, why setting Patrick’s hair on fire may or may not be part of a magic trick, and his unabashed love for ... cider.

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