The Body – All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood (Aum War Records)
While the vast majority of heavy music focuses on darkness in its various permutations, the most recent release by Providence’s The Body offers a more dualistic approach which is, if not exactly rainbow-hued, a more dynamic exploration of the grey areas between abrasion and consonance, and in the process have written what will very likely be the best album to be released this year.
Originally known for their minimalist approach – the band’s lineup on previous albums consisted of one guitarist and one drummer – The Body’s older albums consisted of a lo-fi dirge owing equally to the pummeling noise-rock of the Swans or Godflesh and the harsh, sharply-politicized content of the 90s DIY hardcore scene from which they were spawned. All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood does not lack any of the band’s characteristic doomy abrasion, but expands upon it, utilizing a cast of thirty guest musicians to broaden their musical palette without seeming like a cheap gimmick, eschewing minimalism without casting aside anything else of their sound. Saxophones pop up without seeming jazzy, sheets of white noise punctuate songs like “Empty Hearth” and “A Body” without threatening to turn the whole thing into a Merzbow record, and the fourteen-minute finale “Lathspell I Name You” features eight additional percussionists without devolving into onanistic drum-circle self-indulgence. Most prominent are the choral vocals, provided by the thirteen-member Assembly Of Light Choir. These steer far clear of the sort of quasi-orchestral elements many heavier bands attempt – there is no bombastic melodrama, and the vocalists are featured prominently rather than being used for slight embellishment. It’s beautiful in its rawness – sacred music for those whose only meaningful vision of divinity presented itself in the form of overamplified bands in crowded basements, trading their catharsis for a half tank of gas worth of door money and the opportunity to further spread their gospel of discontent.
And there is no shortage of discontent here. The lyrics – the album’s most consistent element, never veering far from intimations of the apocalypse - tread the fine line between jeremiad and malediction, falling somewhere between a secular John the Baptist and Shoko Asahara without the megalomania. There are songs which meditate on doom and desolation - “Ruiner” excoriates equally those who worship at the temples of God and science – and those, like “Song Of Sarin, The Brave,” which actively invite it. The songs suggest that whatever soul we may have is as scorched and barren as the planet will soon be, and the only elements suggesting otherwise are steeped in the language of retribution. “Repayment in kind I demand / A just finality I deserve” are the last lines sung on this album, and while The Body are probably not cooking up nerve gas at home (as one of their songs deals with pretty explicitly), they are lashing out against the world’s injustices and shortcomings with the weapon for which they are best known. Only this time, their expanded lineup presents more of a unified front – an army disguised as an orchestra, prophets in the wilderness, a faint light in the darkness.
Japanese Gum - Hey Folks! Nevermind, We Are All Galling Down!
This is a tough one to review. When an artist relies almost exclusively on borrowing from more established artists, even when they do it well and borrow from people who do the same, how much credit can they really be given? In the case of the Japanese Gum album, it’s hard to tell how much credit to give them. The first few M83 albums were an excellent mix of glitchy electronics and shoegazey guitar, but apparently these guys took those releases as their guiding light in all creative matters, attempting to pull off the same combination but rarely doing it with the same skill as the albums they aspire to.
Which isn’t to say that any of the songs on Hey Folks! Nevermind, We Are All Galling Down! are notably bad. Everything is in place – the effects-laden guitars, the rushes of synthesizer, the off-kilter drum machines, the breathy vocals – but the songs are such well-mannered tributes to those artists from whom they draw inspiration (and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt by making that plural – as stated earlier, any of these songs could conceivably be old M83 outtakes) that the whole affair is pleasant but not especially memorable. There are moments that show promise and are able to break up the album’s monotony – the heavier dissonance of “Chlorine Blue” or the backwards-masked vocals of “Mistake/Ghost” for instance – but these are unfortunately few and far between.
There is something to be said for egalitarianism in music. One of the most inspirational aspects of rock and roll is its decentralization of talent – with the right tools and the right motivation, anybody can do it. This type of music is case in point. With the right arsenal of guitar effects pedals, anyone can come up with a reasonable approximation of this sound. But this is no guarantee that it will be done well, just as there is no correlation between the ease with which something should be done and the necessity for it. Japanese Gum illustrate this idea well – their music is not challenging on any level, neither technically, aesthetically, nor emotionally, and tends to settle for pleasant, innocuous imitation. Not to belabor the point, but diehard M83 fans who desperately wish for more of that band’s earliest material might appreciate this, but it’s not strongly recommended for anybody else.
ed. note - Japanese Gum did the soundtrack for this. http://www.nike.com/nke6/partnersincrime
Richmond native and recent Radford grad, Mary Chiaramonte has been profiled in the newest issue of New American Paintings and is part of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Art After Hours series. She is currently taking commissions for portrait work.
More of her work can be found at www.merrysee.com
There is a common saying within certain punk rock circles that Ronald Reagan inspired more hardcore songs in his day than any actual band did, suggesting that any movement based on protest or righteous indignation needs a perceived injustice as a jumping-off point. One might think that the world would have seen the same explosion of socially conscious hardcore over the past decade, but with a few notable exceptions, that chorus of dissent never materialized. Faced with the evisceration of our civil rights, the worst economy the country has seen in generations, and an escalation in the exploitative attitude often held towards the environment and our fellow man (often justified most vocally by those who would posit themselves as Reagan’s ideological and spiritual successors), hardcore responded by preening about sneakers, by collecting myspace friends, and by doing its damndest to rehash the most superficial characteristics of ’82, ’88, or some other dead and gone era.
But not everybody fell into that trap. Since 2000, Austin, Texas’s World Burns To Death have thrown down the gauntlet with each successive release, offering listeners one relentless blast after another. Eschewing the pre-packaged sloganeering and readymade ideology of so many ostensibly political bands, World Burns To Death offer a nuanced analysis of the world’s ills – one withering jeremiad after another, each steeped in history and philosophy without tempering the sledgehammer bluntness or indulging in didactic preaching. I got a few questions in with Jack Control, the band’s imposing frontman.
TONIGHT at Hat Factory is a RVA Magazine podcast all-star lineup! Bobby LaBeat,, Reinhold, and guest all-star Michael Nighttime are all in the house. Wanna go? Make sure to RSVP with promo code RVA here to get in for $3 and show up EARLY as last week sold out before midnight!
The WEIRD parties have been gathering steam at New York Deli. Anna Wittel and Meghan Worsham, the ladies behind it sat down behind their computer and answered some questions for us.
RVA: A little bout yourselves, have you promoted parties before?
Anna: Yeah, I threw two dance parties back when I lived in NY – We Are Your Friends, which was nominated for Best New Party by Paper Magazine and a rockabilly party called Bottoms Up! (I had co-party promoters for both events). We Are Your Friends was on a Wednesday and we made brownies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for each party. We got our friends to DJ, usually for about $20, which maaaaybe covered their cab fare. In the year we did the party, we had Drop the Lime, Star Eyes, Eamon Harkin, Jacques Renault, Justin Miller, Lauren Flax, and Huggs DJ, just to name a few. They’ve all gone on to be really successful. Once and a while we had bands play (for free!) like Best Fwends and we threw a Grizzly Bear after-party that was killer. Cowboy Mark was our resident DJ (my roommate at the time) for Bottoms Up! That was just a really fun little rockabilly party at the bar in Brooklyn.
Meghan: This is my first party... I moved back to Richmond a year ago from St. Petersburg, FL. While I was down there I got to experience their dance party scene. There were so many DJs throwing weekly nights in the Tampa Bay area. I had a blast! When I got back to Richmond I felt unsatisfied with the dance scene. Anna and I met and we decided to have our own parties… and here we are!
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)
Hipster dance music that seems horribly outdated to me, but for some reason is still loved in indie circles, even though it's not 2003 anymore. And thank god, because all of this jaded electro for ironic dancing has always gotten on my nerves, no matter how wry its lyrics are.
The Riverdales - Tarantula (Recess Records)
As Ramones tributes go, this Screeching Weasel side project is a cut above. Ben Weasel understands the importance of 60s girl-group melody and 50s rock n' roll, and effectively incorporates those influences into The Riverdales' sound. The result is a superfun three-chord punk record you can dance to.
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows (Merge Records)
These Scottish power-pop veterans may not be as grungy as they were in their early-90s heyday, but the smoother pop songs they crank out today are every bit as gorgeous as the early classics that made them (kinda sorta) famous. Shadows is a solid addition to their discography.
The work of Stephen Vitiello is not easily characterized. His recorded material tends to be classified as sound art, which, while an apt term in the most literal sense, often fails to capture the nuance and imagination which permeates the albums he has released and the sound installations he has created for exhibitions around the world. Many of Vitiello’s better-known works have been based on field recordings from sources as disparate as the Amazon rain forest, sculptor Donald Judd’s ranch in Marfa, Texas, and the 91st floor of the World Trade Center (in which he was a resident artist in the late ‘90s). On the other hand, albums such as Gorilla Variations, a collaboration with Molly Berg of Fuzzy Baby, feature a delicate interplay of digitally-manipulated acoustic instruments which provide a strong contrast to the stark sonic austerity of his manipulations of field recordings.
SMTG Recordings has just released Soundtracks, a DVD of Vitiello’s collaborations with six different video artists. His contributions range from the warm ambient improvisations of his collaborations with Molly Berg to sparser, more unsettling dark electronics. It is an excellent example both of his range as a composer and his ability to create music which neither overwhelms nor is subsumed by the visual components. He was kind enough to take a few minutes from a busy schedule as artist and professor of Kinetic Imaging at VCU and answer a few questions about his most recent release.
Richmond's disgusting, intergalactic, alien metal band GWAR has its own channel at GWAR TV. The lead video is from their slaughter at Bonnaroo where they violated comedian Margaret Cho's face and destroyed the crowd of 15,000 people with metal insanity.
GWAR with Dirge Within and Mobile Deathcamp @ The National
Wednesday June 16, 2010
show time: 8:00 PM
doors open: 7:00 PM
day of show: $21.00
THE EPIC TALE OF GWAR
Eons ago, there existed an elite group of chaos warriors who ravaged the galaxy with a boundless hatred of all things alive. They were called the Scumdogs of the Universe, and they grew in might and fury, the greatest weapon in the arsenal of their cosmic Master. But they became too powerful, and too defiant, and for their cosmic crimes were banished to the most insignificant planet in the universe…the seething mudball known as Earth. Millions of years passed, and they slumbered, until the pollution of your world de-thawed these creatures from their ageless coma…and now they stride the Earth, living gods, dedicated to one goal, the destruction of the human race, and the eradication of existence itself! Wait- that’s two goals! Hark to the hideous majesty of your MASTERS, rulers of Earth, the MIGHTY GWAR!!! It is I, ODERUS URUNGUS, lead singer of the sickest band in metal history, Earth’s only openly extra-terrestrial rock band, and the destined destroyers of not only the human race but also reality itself. GWAR! Hulking, heaving, dribbling WAR-GOD’s who like nothing better than putting hordes of our sniveling fans to the sword while playing the marauding mutant metal that we are famous for! Star’s of stage and screen, carvers of stem and spleen! GWAR LIVES!
If you would like to know more about RVA Sessions or to possibly be featured in future episodes contact Jonathan Martin at email@example.com.
Jimmy Dean was an American country music singer, television host, actor and businessman. Although he may be best known today as the creator of the Jimmy Dean Sausage brand, he first rose to fame for his 1961 country crossover hit "Big Bad John"; and became a national television personality in the 1960s. His acting career included a supporting role in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever. He lived near Richmond, Virginia and was announced into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010, though died before formally inducted. via wikipedia