Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Perfect Ruler of a Perfect Planet

A really short story by Jason Duarte

A loser's gamble and an optimistic mind pops open the top of a beer can. White foam and bubbles surround the mouth of the can, and will soon encompass your mouth. You wait a minute, figuring the foam will settle - even if just a little bit settles - until you take your first sip despite knowing that at no other time but the present moment will this beer be as cold and refreshing as it is as it sits in your hands, gradually getting warmer and warmer as you stare at those foamy roadblocks.
"Ah, fuck it." You take a sip. You sit down and watch a movie. It's inspiring. The story's a cross between Voltaire's "Candide" and what would have to be something else - every possibility's been thought of when it comes to love stories involving some cosmic accident in any given urban setting, or what some would call, fate. Maybe. Then again, it is said that we humans only use 7% of our brains. You personally believe it to be an unconscious excuse we use to pin our own personal shortcomings to, but what do you know. You're unemployed, single and haven't shaved in weeks.
At first, the young couple in the movie is in love. So in love, in fact, that like most passionate and fiery relationships, the two candles burn too quickly and what's left is a miserable and confusing plane of existence where neither of them are on the same page and live solely in the rear view mirror.
"It's like anything else," a New York taxi driver says. Yeah. I guess when you put it that way, maybe. But is it? Suppose there is some unaccounted for 93% of free space in our heads that we can't access. It sounds much too technological, you think, and then think about something else to keep you from thinking about ridiculous theories. Then again, you were just contemplating love. Maybe it is like anything else. Maybe it isn't. It is what it is. If the point of this life is to surround yourself with the illusion of work to somehow validate your life or to marry someone for that very same reason, then what's the deeper point beyond that? In a society where work, economies, politics, social pressure and religion doesn't matter because it isn't a problem, what is life? Introspective contemplation and all-day, everyday spiritual growth? Or is it still work?
The end of "Candide" is a simile for the way to live life. Not the best possible life in this best of all possible worlds, but a balance where nothing is either real good or real bad. And if the meaning life, like Voltaire depicts, is nothing more than passing the time until our last exhalation of that sweet sustaining Nitrogen blend, then why not end life right now, at this very moment, where you are the youngest and sharpest you might ever be? If our brains and bodies are only dying from this point on, that question becomes somewhat valid, you think. But objectively, from this point on, we are only living as well.
Life shouldn't be thought of as existing on a time line, you realize. That really shortens it.
The movie ends and you leave, walking home in the cold. The unfinished and now warm beer is still in your hand. In the black abyss, Orion's glow is intercepted by jealous streetlights.
"I could be that big," you think. If one man can rule a country or a classroom, then one man can rule a planet or several planets. Everything suddenly collapses upon you and a classroom becomes the same size as a country, which is the same size as a continent, which is the same size as Earth, which becomes infinite. It's the same size as one human being.
You turn your can 180 degrees, dispose of it and keep walking. It's 3:46 in the morning. You're cold, somewhat tired and imagine yourself doing what you'll probably be doing tomorrow.
"I'm the most perfect ruler of a most perfect planet," you sarcastically think to yourself before falling asleep. "It's a funny thought, but it's as true as anything else."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sleepwall - "Is That Factual?" 7'' review:

Toxic Pop Records released this New York band's 7'', "Is That Factual?," in September.
The first track, "Tennessee Sun," is a melodic blend of indie, pop, punk and rock 'n' roll. Throughout the song is a catchy riff played out on lead guitar while rhythm, drums and bass do their own thing. It's mostly instrumental - not too heavy on the lyrics. The tune is reminiscent of Radiohead, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves and a touch of The Strokes. And maybe a little Fugazi. "Tennessee Sun" is 3:37.

The second track, "Change Your Ways," starts out a little slower, but those steady, melodic drums soon catch up, engaging the listener. Feedbacking guitars then take you by the hand into the song, which has a very '90s theme to it. The lead singer, Kevin, has a voice reminiscent of the late Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, only Kevin's in a bit more mellow and rhythmic with his music. Also notable is the similarity between his voice and Paul Westerberg's from The Replacements. The tune is 4:02 in length but goes by quickly.

The artwork for this 7'' is cool too - in orange and blue ink, it depicts clippings from personal ads - from something about a whale's penis to UFOs. All over! I would recommend picking this up if you're looking for something new to listen to. With their blend of '90s sounds and originality, they very well could be your new favorite band.

4 stars out of 5

Track Listing:
1. Tennessee Sun
2. Change Your Ways

Check 'em out:
Pick up a copy:

Pressing info:
10 test presses
1st pressing:
100 on solid blue vinyl
500 on black vinyl

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Beldings - "The Beldings" E.P.

It's been a while since I've reviewed an EP or a demo CD-R by an unrecognized and unknown band.
From what I can tell, The Beldings are a one-man band from Indiana. The EP's five songs are fast and short with a total playing time of 4:49.

My first impression was, "What the fuck. This sounds like a white Wesley Willis but instead of a keyboard, someone gave this guy instruments."
And...I'm still under that impression. We all know most punk songs are simple and there's usually not a lot to making them, but this goes a little too far with it. Or not far enough. For example, the song "Dead By Dawn" goes "Dead by dawn, dead by dawn/You're gonna be dead by dawn/Try to run/Try to hide/It doesn't matter, you're gonna die/It doesn't matter where you go, they're gonna find you and steal your soul" for 1:03. Three chords. It's just so simple and cheesy. The song's title reminds me of this Nirvana cover band I used to play bass in too.

The other thing is, I don't get where he came up with the "Beldings" name. I mean, yeah, he's the principal from Saved By The Bell. But I don't see how that fits in with songs about horror flicks. Maybe the common denominator is shitty '80s television? It eludes me and in my opinion, the whole zombie and horror theme is way overdone and overrated and lacks substance. The Misfits did a damn good job, but their songs have catchy hooks and at the time, originality, which a lot of punk today lacks.

The Beldings - "The Beldings" EP

1. Jason Voorhees (Not a Hextalls cover)
2. My Girl's a Zombie (Not a Briefs cover)
3. Dead By Dawn (Not that Nirvana tribute band cover)
4. Night of the Living Dead (Not a Misfits cover)
5. Evil Dead (Not an Adorkables cover)

One star out of five.

Monday, November 2, 2009

House Boat - "The Delaware Octopus" review:

Based outta Elmhurst (NY, not Illinois), comes The Steinways! I mean The Ergs. I mean Dear Landlord. Er-Off With Their Heads. I mean The Steinways! If they all just jerked off on a toilet seat at a rest stop in Indiana and then a woman of particularly low appeal sat on it, the baby would be called House Boat, OK? And it would kinda look like the little feller that graces the cover of its debut album, "The Delaware Octopus."

Before I get too into this whole review process, I've listened to this fuckin' thing over 15 times in the last two days. That doesn't really happen when I review something but goddamnit, this shit is tighter than a nun's snatch. Especially if you like all those dead (but not really?) bands that these guys used to play in.
Grath (Steinways, Barrakuda McMurder) sings lead vocals on most of these short little nuggets of gold.
Surprisingly, Mikey Erg only makes one vocal appearance (that I can discern) on the album during the song "Battlestar Galactica..."

The themes seem to be similar to that of The Steinways'. You know...Grath signing about being fucked up, stoned and pathetic and falling over chicks and shit. Yet, all in a really, really catchy way. Then there's the Ace songs, which were always my favorite of The Steinways' tunes. No offense, Grath or Michelle. Ace sings on "My Guts Have Shit For Brains," which, from what I can tell, is about being fed up with bungholes 10 years younger than him at school. It's also quite possibly the best name for a song I have ever heard. If you've got a heterosexual crush on Ace like I do, he also sings on "30 Going On 13," in which both Grath and he split the vocals (with a little bit of Zack in there). It's a tune about lacking motivation infused with stress, laziness and know...defeat really. But you go with the motions anyways kinda thing cause you have to.

"A Song For Halfpint To Suck On My Balls To" came on and I thought it was a fucking Copyrights tune at first. Well, Zack sings it. But he does that thing Fletcher does where he opens his mouth real big and stretches the vowels. It rules. Then him and Grath share vocals during the chorus. This album ends after 13 catchy songs with a run time of 20:21. I was disappointed that they didn't put "Traffic School" on here. Ace was kind enough to inform me that "Traffic School" is actually a Kirk Hammett (Metallica) cover from some Metallica DVD. I guess he had to go to traffic school, so he went with his guitar and came out with that tune. Perhaps House Boat will release it sometime. It used to be on their MySpace if you have absolutely no fucking clue what I'm talking about. Bottom line is, when It's Alive Records finally releases this, get a copy and have yourself a good old time as you relish in the memories of The Steinways and The Ergs! but are also experiencing something totally new and completely fucking awesome. 5 stars out of 5. I've never done that before. Shit's tight. Here's the artwork. The baby's head was originally supposed to be a Buddha head, but I guess Adam Ali changed it. I'd like to see the original artwork, done by Michelle Shirelle of The Steinways. But the final version is great too.

"The Delaware Octopus"

1. I Watched The Biggest Loser Australia
2. I Work On The 13th Floor
3. Alonelylonelylone
4. Battlestar Galactica Vs. The Pop Punk Message Board Part VI: Grivet Loves Goats
5. My Guts Have Shit For Brains
6. Every Day
7. My Life Hurts
8. Are You Into Metal?
9. 30 Going On 13
10. All Of The Time
11. A Song For Halfpint To Suck On My Balls To
12. Wait, What?
13. Dumbmarket Travesty