Archive for April, 2009

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1991: Nirvana Kills Alternative Rock

April 19, 2009

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1991.

Nirvana releases Nevermindand singlehandedly destroys the futures of Warrant, Ratt, Poison, Dokken, and perhaps even Stryper. These hair metal bands are the known, mostly unmourned victims of the grunge revolution.

But what about alternative rock?

Before the grunge-fueled major label spending spree, there was a version of rock known as alternative rock (sometimes college rock) that encompassed a wide variety of bands including Love & Rockets, Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & the Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Mondays, James, the Stone Roses and the Pixies, just to name some of the major players. This loose confederation of bands and radio stations operated outside the mainstream (except in Britain where it was the mainstream).

Then Nevermind happened.

Major labels went on a shopping spree, selling hair and buying flannel. The most unlikely of bands suddenly saw A&R men waving blank checks in their general direction. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins were some of the more standard signees.

But the labels went further, seeking to wring the last dollar out of anyone they’d never heard of before. Uncomfortable execs found themselves flattened against the wall of the local dive, staring down the business end of the Butthole Surfers or asking the barkeep if they sold earplugs while getting to the bottom of this whole “Melvins thing.”

Case in point: Royal Trux. Fished off the Drag City roster by Virgin, Royal Trux gave thir soon-to-be-jobless A&R person the unenviable task of trying to market Sweet Sixteen, an album whose production values frequently slipped below lo-fi into no-fi and whose cover featured an overflowing, feces laden… fuck it. See the photo below.

Giving your artists creative control... it's a career-killer.

Giving your artists creative control... it's a career-killer.

Rock radio stations (who exist to push major label music and sell advertising) hastily revamped playlists and rechristened themselves “alternative.” Alternative rock stations, who had spearheaded the grunge attack, suddenly found themselves in the company of bigger, more well paid competition.

Major labels shoved everybody and anybody into the studio, grabbing them a Butch Vig or closest non-union equivalent. Turds were polished. Soul-patches were immaculately groomed. Studios turned into methadone clinics only without all that morphine or rehabilitation.

Kurt sticks it to the man. Via the man.

Kurt sticks it to the man. Via the man.

The former indie bands rebelled, often in t-shirt form. They started fires, used massive amounts of drugs, got hospitalized, broke up and refused to shower. Once Kurt took himself out of circulation, the majors were freed of their Jiminy Cricket. More cooperative and manipulated bands were signed. Candlebox, Bush, Seven Mary Three, Better Than Ezra, etc. Weak, watery shit, cloaked in the “alternative” whitewash, rinsed and sanitized for the masses.

The old altrock, with its variety and imagination, was replaced with wall-to-wall guitars, hoarse bellowing and ritualistic abuse of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic. An occasional jangle-pop band was thrown in to sucker in the ladies (Toad the Wet Sprocket, Live, etc.) The underground went deeper as the labels reps roamed the landscape hoping for the last great white hope.

Exhibit A – 1991 (the Victims):
the Pixies release their last album
My Bloody Valentine release their last album
the Jesus and Mary Chain enter the studio for their last good album, Honey’s Dead
the Happy Mondays enter the studio for their ill-fated last album, Yes Please! which bankrupts Creation Records
Ministry release their last good album, Psalm 69
Skinny Puppy enters the studio for their last good album, Last Rights

Alternative rock radio was now a loud, tuneless blare. Flannel was the new black. Grunge was the new metal. Alternative rock is dead. Long live alternative rock. 

Coming up: FNM, RHCP and RATM – Acronyms of doom. Nu-rock gang-rapes alternative rock’s cooling corpse. Meanwhile, major labels execs find Korn in their shit, feed it to the public.

Bonus download:
Solvent – My Radio.mp3
Electro artist sings nostalgically about how the radio used to be cool, man, but now it’s changed.

-CLT

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Starving? Maybe You’re Just Eating the Wrong Food

April 18, 2009
Local green partiers announce that they are "full of shit."

Local green partiers announce that they are "full of shit."

Apologies in advance for the length of this post…

You hear altogether too much these days about how far we have strayed from the purer, more organic ways of our predecessors. Let’s go ahead and set that straight:

Although it is widely held that modern food is “less natural” than it used to be, mealtimes in the nineteenth century were a far riskier activity.

Business morals in the British catering industry were never lower than in Queen Victoria’s day. Deliberate food adulteration, with no laws to prevent it, grew to horrific proportions as food suppliers cheerfully ripped off and poisoned their customers at the same time.

Some of the most common frauds included the use of ground Derbyshire stone instead of flour, fake Gloucester cheese colored with red lead, baked horse offal from the knacker’s yard in coffee, lead chromate in mustard and even iron bars baked in loaves to make weight.

People died after eating green blancmange colored with copper sulphate and yellow Bath buns colored with arsenic. Fifteen people died after buying sweets from a Bradford market which were found to be laced with white arsenic.

Beer drinking was possibly the most dangerous activity of all: in one year there were over 100 breweries were convicted for contaminating beer with poisonous substances, including sulphuric acid, which was added to “harden” new beer, and iron sulphate, added to give it a good frothy head.

Source: The Little Book of Bad Taste by Karl Shaw, Robinson Publishing Ltd., London

It’s an indication that life has been far too good for far too long when certain people begin bitching about the steady supply of food. Large parts of the world suffer from food shortages and near starvation, but rather than support the advances made in agriculture, they would rather turn back the clock.

Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug has been fighting an uphill battle against world hunger since the 1940’s. Reason has a great interview with him here. Despite his work in eliminating food shortages in Pakistan and India as well as ongoing efforts in other countries, groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club cast him as the villain, due to his support of pesticides, hormones and hybrids.

Norman outlines some of the roadblocks that these self-righteous jackasses have erected to slow agricultural progress in Africa. DDT was outlawed so draft animals die of sleeping sickness meaning that all farm work tends to be human-powered. Pesticides and Roundup-ready crops have been blocked, meaning that native grasses quickly overrun any productive crops. Projects to create roads have been rejected which prevents quick input and output of crops, fertilizers, etc.

As for organic farming being better for human health and the environment?

That’s ridiculous. This shouldn’t even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have–the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues–and get them back on the soil, you couldn’t feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.

At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? There’s a lot of nonsense going on here.

The real miracle in our lifetime is that anyone in America, Europe or other parts of the developed world can drive or walk to the nearest grocery store and find all the food they need. Years of development in the agricultural field has taken us to a point that many places in the world can only dream about.

The other miracle? Your grocery store is full of reasonably priced food despite the fact that everyone in the supply chain is out to make a buck. The other great “evil” of our time, the market system, turns a profit and yet you still won’t go hungry.

And yet, these elitists and supposed do-gooders aren’t happy. The produce comes from hybrids, growth hormones “infect” the meat, the chickens are restrained and force fed, the box stores are eating up too much real estate and the supply trucks cause too much pollution.

They have the money to live how they want. And they should. If they want to buy only organic produce and pure, hormone-free meat, then they definitely should.

But what they definitely SHOULD NOT FUCKING DO is impose THEIR standards on everyone else. I would say that they don’t have that right, but since our legislative system seems to more than willing to be abused by every special interest group, no matter how regressive or ridiculous. The extremists are willing to use their wealth, influence and special brand of guilt to tear down the food chain and rebuild it in their own image.

Borlaug again:

As a matter of fact, I think this [lack of perspective] is true of our whole food situation. Our elites live in big cities and are far removed from the fields. Whether it’s Brown or Ehrlich or the head of the Sierra Club or the head of Greenpeace, they’ve never been hungry.

The end result will be an expensive, limited food supply that will cause shortages the world over and price the lower classes right the fuck out of the market.

The arrogance of these groups is astounding. What sort of Marie Antoinette rationale will they pull out their superior asses when the less-fortunate can’t put food on the table? “Let them eat video lottery?”

Perhaps they would be happier with some state-blessed genocide to rid the world of those who are content simply knowing where their next meal is coming from.

-CLT

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Mysteries of the Deep

April 15, 2009

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Mediterranean Hellfish
Although rarely seen in the U.S., the Hellfish can be raised as a housepet. Due to its sensitivity to light, the Hellfish must be raised in the dark or lit only with a UV lamp. Its diet consists of smaller, more translucent fish and the tears of the damned.

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South Atlantic Drifter
Some recent studies have shown the Drifter to be an extremely well-traveled fish, as its speculated migratory pattern is believed to follow this pattern:

gps-hoax

Most of the scientific community, however, believes this to be “horseshit,” citing the large amount of land covered.

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North Atlantic Lutefisk
Revered by the Norwegians for its oily texture and rotting flesh, the Lutefisk has been fished to near-extinction. Rogue trawlers still roam the North Atlantic for the ultra-rare fish as it can go for nearly $700/troy oz. on the black market. The often futile Lutefisk fishing trips coined the popular Norwegian phrase, “Nothing but net.”

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North American Nickelback
A bland, but strangely popular whitefish, offering no distinctive features or flavor. Used as a food source for many cooks, the Nickelback has earned the derision of more discerning chefs around the world. Anthony Bourdain has stated, “I’d rather strangle myself with my own intestines than have anything to do with Nickelback.”

Nickelback is usually one of the featured dishes at KROQ’s annual Dane Cook and Sausagefest, the summer high point of Southern Californian frat boys and mooks.

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North American Quadfish
Known by many different names (phish, ghoti, jesus fish, darwin fish), the Quadfish has become popular with ironic t-shirt wearing students, aging hippies and in the case of the “jesus fish” variety, aging Republicans.

-CLT

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Art of the Remix v3

April 13, 2009

zap_resident

This is posted mainly because I have never seen the Residents remixed (and as an unrepentant lover of repetitive beats, I pay attention to this sort of thing). I’m assuming that the Residents really don’t provide the greatest source material for a dance-floor ready remix, considering their output generally punishes as much as it rewards repeated listening.And I say “I’m assuming” because I am not familiar with the source material or the Residents’ body of work. I’m not big on avant-garde rock and the whole concept album/rock opera genre.

Not to mention the nightmare of securing the rights to the original track (if that indeed happened). To this day, nobody really knows who these massive eyeballs are, leaving you (the remixer) to deal with the rights management company (read: walking lawsuits).

And we all know how much fun it can be to deal with a territorial third party, who wear the badge “management” like a Congressional Medal of Honor. Rather than deal with the person(s) you need to, you’re forced to deal with someone who has, through a combination of ignorance and tenacity, clawed their way to the middle. Protecting the “rights” of their clients has become synonymous with “looking like a big shot in front of the guys.”

To sum up: the Glimmers remixes read like a who’s-who of indie cred: Who Made Who, Roxy Music, Whitey, Shocking Blue, Alan Vega (Suicide), Jah Wobble, Severed Heads, Liquid Liquid. Which is not necessarily a bad thing as many a bedroom DJ has already laid a 4/4 over a lazy selection of top 40 hits and nostalgia faves, further watering down the talent pool.

The Residents – Dikomo (The Glimmers Remix).mp3 (320K)

All mp3s are only temporarily available. If you like what you hear, please support the artists. If you wish to have a track removed, please contact me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

-CLT

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Beaten Sword Fails Career Switch

April 12, 2009
The state's Dept. of Irony continued to be well-funded.

The state's Dept. of Irony continued to be well-funded.

Living in the middle of nowhere in the upper Midwest, you begin to appreciate the little things. Or the lack thereof.

Most of my drive in midwinter is on a federal highway which is plowed regularly because of the heavy trucker traffic. This means that a majority of my 35-mile drive will be at somewhere around 60 mph. At some arbitrary point close to my city of employment, the state plows stop and the city (of 13,000) is presumably supposed to take over.

99% of the time this means that close to the city limits the roads turn to an amateur night Commuters on Ice as not a bit of plowing has been done within the city limits, no matter how many hours it has been since the last precipitation.

Unless some severe budgetary constraints have made the city’s snowplows strictly ornamental, I can only speculate as to the rationale behind this:

1. The city plow drivers do not know how to operate their snow plows (seems unlikely, as this is a.) the Upper Midwest, where everyone slaps a plow on their truck and b.) it fucking snows all the time.
2. The minimum number of angry letters to the editor from disgruntled octogenarians has not been met.
3. The roads within city limits are made from some new space-age plow-resistant asphalt.
4. The city has a Motor Vehicle Rescue budget that it has not maxed out yet.
5. “Snow emergencies” are ignored until they are “snow catastrophes.”

The fed stretch is consistently plowed with a few rare exceptions.

1. The highway department does not use salt. Presumably, the citizens would rather head into the ditch and snap their drivetrains than rust up a little on the underside of the vehicle.
2. One major failure: the day started with freezing rain which the fed boys met with loads of gravel as soon as the precipitation started.
Later in the day, we got a few inches of snow. The fed boys rushed to meet the challenge and quickly plowed all the snow AND the gravel, leaving us with a freshly plowed sheet of ice to drive on.

-CLT

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I’m Not Much of a Star Wars Geek…

April 9, 2009

…but this fucking nails it.

tauntaun-sleepingbag

Available here. (via)

-CLT

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And I Looked Back and Saw One Set of Footprints…

April 4, 2009
christ-the-redeemer

Another Scott Stapp photo shoot.

Although Jesus has promised to save your eternal soul and at some point, destroy the world to save it from itself, it has been freely acknowledged by many theologians (i.e., “buried somewhere at the back of my thesis”) that there are some things even beyond the reach (or interest) of the Almighty.

The U.S. Economy
The free market, considered by many leftists to be the Antichrist, has undergone a Dr. Moreau-esque transformation (thanks to a meddling government) into a stunted, retarded monkey-like shadow of its former self. Although a very Christ-like figure has been elected president, to date he has shown that he is more beholden to large financial groups and various unions (UAW, Teachers’) than he is to the many voters he promised the world to.

Jesus says: Revelations 14:3 – Don’t blame me. I voted for Kodos.

Ferris
Ferris Bueller, considered briefly to be the Antichrist, due to his popularity, boyish good looks and lack of respect for authority figures, is not actually dying or in need of a kidney transplant. At most he just needs a brief ass-kicking or a stern talking-to. And the less said about the unfortunate damage to the reputation of esteemed sausagier Abe Frohman, the better.

Jesus says: Rev. 31:16 – It’s been a long time since anyone referred to the “comedic genius of John Hughes”.

Money on Your Long Distance
Long considered to be the Antichrist by pretty much everyone, telecom companies failed to react to the public’s desire to have small, portable, feature-laden phones that has no long-distance charges whatsoever. These lumbering dinosaurs are now relegated to sniping at each other with “exciting” offers and dinnertime sales calls to the 50 or so Americans who have failed to register themselves on the Do Not Call list.

Jesus says: Rev. 4:21 – You mean this phone only works inside my house? In 2009? GTFO!

Michael Vick’s Career
Briefly considered by some to be the saviour of the ailing Falcons franchise (and thus a false saviour, so an Antichrist), Vick wowed fans with his mobility, open field speed and lifetime quarterback rating of 75.7. Opponents soon learned that if they could keep him contained, he was unable to perform basic quarterbacking skills (see also: Tavaris Jackson). Unable to find his groove on the field, Vick soon returned to his true passion: raising dogs to fight and kill each other. Currently awaiting reinstatement, Vick has already received offers from the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jesus says: Rev. 16:12 – Man, look at the arm on that halfback!

the Universal Music Group
Long considered to be the Antichrist by the music purchasing public, the largest music pusher in the world has been damaged by P2P, direct music sales, iTunes and multiple self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the foot. One positive step: extorting $1 from Microsoft for every Zune sold (although this may have backfired due to the “iPod killer” being about as popular as sliced AIDS.) This has forced the aging behemoth to make some cuts in executive perks including a 40% reduction in the “Hookers and Blow” fund.

Jesus says: Rev. 23:19 – Unfortunately, I am unable to say anything regarding this due to my pending lawsuit for downloading “Happy Birthday”.

Print Media
Long considered by conservatives to be the Antichrist due to their unapologetic hard left “reporting,” their reputation seems to have softened as some have righted their stances and veered back to a more central reporting style while others have overcorrected and gone far right (Washington Post, anything Fox News related [not really print media, but I’m making a point]). Their collective failure to understand that the public would probably like to receive their news more than once a day and from more than one source has caused them to collapse under the weight of their journalism degrees. They have responded to this crisis by asking for bailouts, accusing the public of being stupid and hastily erecting paywalls.

Jesus says: Rev. 34:7 – And if that’s not enough, they turn my fingers black.

-CLT