Music

Zombie Nation: Black Toys

Zombie Nation's new disc almost finds a place between indie-centric heavy metal disco and more commercial minded electro.


Zombie Nation

Black Toys

Label: UKW
US Release Date: 2006-10-24
UK Release Date: 2006-11-03
Amazon
iTunes

Yeah, I'll admit: I only knew Zombie Nation, pre-Black Toys, from "Kernkraft 4000". Who knew, John Starlight (Splank!) had already released two albums before this? Well, no matter: Black Toys jumps right into the most current of commercial dance sounds, electro. This isn't the coke-hyped crunchiness of Justice, or the other Ed Banger artists, something more mainstream, the kind of electro that could find its way onto a Ministry of Sound or Ultra compilation. What's impressive, and doesn't necessarily come through on Zombie Nation's sound, is that all the sounds are specifically engineered for the sake of the track (rather than just sampled). It's the sound of a squeaking door or the multiple, squiggly effects of "Squid". And "Slomo" utilizes a heavy dubstep beat with an agitated electro accompaniment to create a deeply banging dancefloor track. But too many of these tracks back away from really embracing electro's juicy sleaze. The Orange Mix of "Black Toys" (otherwise the best song on the album) wastes the raw material, flittering around with city sounds for two minutes before establishing a tinny beat, and taking way too long to get to the gorgeously sleazy electro bass for a series of outer-space pings and echoes. There's a nice niche to be carved here, between the indie-oriented heavy metal disco and slickly commercial dance, but on Black Toys Zombie Nation skirts around this niche and never quite nails it. With the pace that dance music evolves, he may have lost his chance.

5

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image