Archive for February, 2011

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Heavy Rotation 64

February 27, 2011

Featuring The Straight Jacks, Dick Dale by way of Sector, Guilty Ghosts, Soap Opera and Spoon being beaten by BEAKR. Kind of all over the place here and featuring, unbelievably, some drum & bass. Go figure. Wish a song of yours would just go away? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

More spinning done here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

LINKS

A long, long, ultra-long look behind the scenes from a former top member of the Church of Scientology.

Sweet! Hacker supergroup Anonymous is taking on the Westboro Baptist Church. Bring on the well-deserved LULZ!

Upon further review, Anonymous will NOT be taking on the Westboro Baptist Church. Because it is they who are the trolling fuckers and they’ve got lawyers like other people have IQ points.

Kate Beaton, the genius cartoonist behind Hark, a Vagrant, has never seen an episode of Dr. Who. This hasn’t stopped her from whipping up a representative episode of the show. As far as I can tell, her sketches are more accurate than the show itself.

The Static Jacks – Parties and Friends (and Bullshit).mp3

Sounds like a less aggro Social Distortion, but one that traces the same outlines (drinking, women, pain) that Social Distortion did best. It’s easy to imagine Mike Ness’ heavily-tattooed growl throttling this one, decrying the injustices perpetrated on him by his woman, her nasty drinking habit and her even nastier drunken habits.

If indie rock had a “classic rock” subgenre, the Static Jacks would be the trendsetter.

Dick Dale – Misirilou (Sector Drum & Bass Mix).mp3

As has been stated before, I don’t care much for Drum & Bass. But as was also pointed out, the DnB I do like (Aphrodite, etc.) isn’t considered real DnB by the purists. So what we have here is something that works so well it seems obvious with about 30 seconds of hindsight: a “not real DnB” remix of Misirlou, a speedy Dick Dale track made bouncier by the addition of filling-loosening bass and a jump-up breakbeat.

Thus, Eastern-informed surf guitar becomes theoretically danceable, even if you can only get as far as your computer chair.

Guilty Ghosts – Bergen Street.mp3

Like Mogwai, only more electronic-y, Guilty Ghosts pair a skipping CD drumbeat with a blanketing fog of melodic distortion. The perfect soundtrack for a rainy day. Or (depending on current local conditions) the perfect soundtrack for a hungover, shades-drawn kind of day.

(Photo: Jason Pfeifer)

Soap Opera – Colliqual.mp3

Some sort of rough-hewn dubby breakbeat, sporting Massive Attack meets Mad Professor beats with barking electronic interjections and unintelligible vocals that weave in and out of the murk. No single element is particularly threatening but the whole thing has an ass-kicking air about it. And who is Soap Opera? You won’t find any answers here.

Spoon – I Turn My Camera On (BEAKR Mix).mp3

Spoon for your dancefloor, without any lazy beat additions or bland 4/4 club pandering. Just a kick-ass BEAKR re-edit, stressing the thump while retaining Britt Daniels’ distinctive vocals and lyrics.

-CLT

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Income Inequality: the Imaginary Powderkeg

February 25, 2011

Mother Jones recently published a set of infographics on income equality in America, which is understandably kicking up some dust around various corners of the internet. The numbers are shocking: the top .01% make an average of $27 million per household. The bottom 90%? Only $31,000.

Looking at this chart, it’s easy to believe that some sort of unfairness exists. That somehow the richest 10% (who control over 70% of the wealth in this country) are undeserving of their income. The knee-jerk response is to start thinking of the nation’s wealth as zero-sum, and for every dollar going into Bill Gates’ pocket, a corresponding dollar is being taken away from the lower 90%.

Obviously, nobody believes this is done directly. But many do believe that this is being done indirectly through layoffs, wage suppression or actions along those lines.

But it’s an illusion.

It’s an illusion created by those who believe there is some sort of caste system, aided by political action, that serves to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

But don’t fall for it. There’s nothing there.

The supposed “problem” of income disparity only exists if you believe it exists. I’m not saying that these charts aren’t accurate or that there is not a large gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90% of earners. I’m saying that this gap is only a problem if you choose to believe it’s a problem.

The thought process as to why you should believe it’s a problem is false. The theory is that the more the top 10% makes, the less you make. Unless the CEO of Goldman Sachs is siphoning money out of your bank account, this simply isn’t true.

“But I don’t work for Goldman Sachs, I work for X company.” Exactly. And every chart like this is intended to make you feel as though the CEO of X company is getting richer by suppressing your wages. People look at infographics such as these, compare that with their paycheck and subjectively apply it to their situation, forgetting that there are several people in the top 10% who don’t (directly or indirectly) have any effect on their paycheck.

Ask yourself this question: what do the super-rich have that I don’t? Multiple houses, luxury vehicles, housekeepers, etc. are not the sort of thing any reasonable person expects out of life. Even in the lower income levels, we still have access to services and consumer goods that used to be the domain of only the rich: decent medical care, a house, multiple vehicles, high-end electronics, computers, appliances, schools, and so on. These all used to be available only to the very well-off. In the past, only the rich could afford qualified doctors and education for their children. Computers used to cost thousands of dollars. The same with high-end electronics. Washers and dryers were luxury items.

As life has gone in the US, the cost of these goods has fallen dramatically. Everyone has a free option for their children’s education. Life expectancy has gone up. As the wages spread further and further apart, life has not gotten collectively worse for everyone outside of the top 10%. Life continues to get better for a majority of the other 90%. There are some outliers in the lowest percentiles but generally speaking, life is better for a majority of Americans despite this perceived inequality.

In fact, as wage disparity has increased, happiness levels in America have risen as well. Income disparity increased over 50% between 1972-2004 and yet a GSS (General Social Service) poll shows happiness levels increasing from 30 to 31 percent.

“If the egalitarians are right, then average happiness levels should be falling. But they aren’t. The GSS shows that in 1972, 30 percent of the population said that they were “very happy” with their lives; in 1982, 31 percent; in 1993, 32 percent; in 2004, 31 percent. In other words, no significant change in reported happiness occurred—even as income inequality increased by nearly half. Happiness levels have certainly shown some fluctuations over the last three decades, but income inequality explains none of them.”

There are a lot of reasons for people to be unhappy now. We’re in the middle of a recession. The housing market has collapsed, dragging down net worth for the bottom 90%. A jobless recovery is slowing progressing. People need a villain to take the blame and the top 10% is better than nothing. The perception that America is run by robber barons is taking hold again.

A lot of this perception stems from the financial industry’s top level compensation. There’s a huge disconnect between what CEOs in this field make and the perceived value of their actions. Resentment has built from the bank bailouts and other special treatment these institutions have received over the years, which when coupled with the current recession tends to bring most people to the conclusion that these same CEOs are extremely overpaid. I’d agree with this conclusion. They are overpaid. But then again, so is most of their rank-and-file. It’s a feeling that those who push imaginary money around shouldn’t be compensated this well, especially when their money-pushing results in hardship for the bottom 90%.

But this isn’t totally the fault of the financial institutions. If you want to blame somebody, blame the government. And keep blaming them because they’re never going to fix it. Goldman Sachs, in particular, is a revolving door that circulates its executives in and out of government positions and vice versa. Even if the government decided to step in and raise taxes appreciably on big business and the incomes of the top 10%, it would have no effect on the bottom 90%.

The ugly truth is that if you tax something more, you get less of it. Just ask New York City, whose latest tax increase (to $6.86 a pack!) resulted in an influx of tax-free bootleg cigarettes and the relocation of tax money to neighboring states with lower prices. Sales dropped 27% between July and November, far exceeding the 8-10% the politicians predicted.

A higher income tax would simply mean that more of the top 10% would relocate to countries with lower tax rates. The same goes for the businesses. They would incorporate in tax havens and dodge the bullet that way. The bottom 90% would pay more for goods and services as any applied tax meant to “punish” the high end would simply be passed along to the low end. It’s always this way and those who yearn for the golden era of 90% marginal tax rates on millionaires are kidding themselves if they think a tax hike will actually result in some sort of windfall for the bottom 90%.

Contrary to the images painted by those with class warfare on their minds, a majority of the rich did not simply “luck” into this money or exploit the hell out of others to get it. Many of them were innovators (Bill Gates, Lawrence Ellison, Sergey Brin) who developed new products and services. Others were savvy investors (Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Sheldon Adelson). With the exception of the Wal-Mart inheritance and the Mars family, no one on the Top 20 list of richest Americans simply had money given to them.

It’s at this point that merit comes into play. Do people who hate the income gap really want all people to be rewarded equally? Do they want the top end skewed down or do they want the bottom end to rise? Should this be handled via “redistribution” (in other words, taxes – an impossibility but we’ll let it slide for rhetorical reasons) or wage caps? Do they really want a world where hard work and foresight is punished?

Take Mother Jones, for example. Their ad income is most likely several times that of smaller online commentary sites. Should they be forced to toss their “excess” in a pool for the smaller sites to benefit from and close the “gap” that way? I would imagine they’d disagree with this, stating that they’ve built up their brand and hired talented writers and thus, deserve this additional income.

Is that any different than deciding that Bill Gates should be forced via taxation or salary cap to cough up his “excess” income so that those in the bottom 90% can have more? And how exactly does anyone expect this to happen?

All the ideas I’ve read revolve around raising the tax rate on the top 10%. This is the ever-popular “soaking the rich” tax plan. It plays well with voters but will never be instituted, thanks to the fact that many of our nation’s representatives are wholly beholden to the ultra-rich, if not actually part of the ultra-rich themselves. (Interesting note: Democrats are more prone to painting the Republican party as champions of the ultra-rich, but 7 out 0f 10 of the richest representatives listed below are, in fact, Democrats. And not just any Democrats, but Democrats who crossed party lines to vote FOR Bush’s tax cuts on higher incomes.)

Beyond the fact that there is nobody in Washington willing to do this, a further issue is the fact that the government is quite possibly the worst Robin Hood analogue imaginable. They cannot, despite constant assurances otherwise, redistribute wealth. They cannot take Bill Gates’ money and spread it among a random sampling of the bottom 90%. They can’t even do it indirectly through taxes, as much of that money is already promised to a variety of earmarks, subsidies and entitlements already.

Not only that, but a higher taxation rate wouldn’t close the gap. Gross income is still gross income, no matter what the tax rate. Someone making $20 million will still make $20 million, even if 60% of it is siphoned off in taxes. And the person making $30,000 will still be making $30,000, even if $12 million just rolled into the IRS offices.

They also have no business setting wages. Despite governmental creep into the private sector, there is no way these self-interested players should be allowed to cap wages or set minimums. They already have screwed up with the minimum wage and granting them the power to cap maximums is asking for a quasi-socialist system where even fewer people have a chance to get rich but many, many more will have the chance to be poor.

Beyond that, no one seems to have any idea how to close the income gap. If this were a real problem, rather than just a shoddy platform plank, ideas would flow freely. As it is, it’s just a political haymaker and another reason to get pointlessly angry.

My suggestion? Let it go. It won’t change. It can’t change. And anyone who thinks it can be changed wants to enlist the worse people possible to handle/redistribute other people’s money: the government. That’s not a solution. That’s a farce.

-CLT

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Also Appearing at…

February 24, 2011

The Big Jewel, where I take on ghosts and stuff, and published at Techdirt in a somewhat indirect fashion (you’ll have to do some scrolling in order to see a familiar name).

-CLT

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Friends (Or a Reasonable [Electronic] Facsimile Thereof)

February 24, 2011

I first heard Gary Numan on a Beggars Banquet compilation (which also featured some brilliant tracks by Peter Murphy, Rollerskate Skinny and Tones on Tail). Well, I had probably heard Cars first via the radio, which at that point was still trotting out that lurching classic 15 years on from its heyday, myopically reducing Gary Numan to a single song.

And that’s really the problem with radio. Every band exists only as their hit, no matter how many other just as catchy tunes reside on their albums. For instance, the US knows Love & Rockets as So Alive.

At least if you lived in Britain, you had All in My Mind or their cover of Ball of Confusion added to that arbitrary list. Oh, and No New Tale to Tell, which was one of about three salvagable tracks from Earth-Sun-Moon, which many people still insist on calling “underrated.” I don’t know. To my ears, the “underrated” scores are right where they should be.

But we’re not here to discuss my lover for Love & Rockets or the poorly done tattoo of the band’s logo I have tattoed on my right arm.

The follow-up question to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Are Friends Electric? is vintage Numan, all icy synths, monotone vocals and a melodic hook as big as the dystopian outdoors. The huge synth line is twice as good as the one in Cars, if only half as popular.

Here’s the original in all its synthetic glory:

Now that you’ve gone to the source, here’s two different takes on the masterpiece:

Moloko – Are Friends Electric? (live).mp3

Moloko takes the first swing, opting for a rather straightforward rendition. The main twist is part-time singer Mark Brydon’s vocals, which out-deadpan Numan’s original, lending a bit of ironic distance to the cover. It turns out a bit like something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the more restrained portions of Fischerspooner’s discography.

Giresse – Mon Ami.mp3

Giresse heads off in a different direction, using the outsized synthline as the foundation for a dancefloor killing machine. The patented Numan riff gets distended, altered, pitched and otherwise electronically manhandled over the course of the pounding track, one which wouldn’t sound out of place in Mauro Picotto or Yves Deruyter‘s setlist.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 63

February 20, 2011

Featuring Tobacco, Glitter Bones, No Age, Slowdive and The Fauns. Damaged electro followed by the soothing sounds of various -gazes, nu- and old skool shoe-. Would you like a track removed? Email me at 2timegrimee@gmail.com

LINKS:

Learn how to do stuff from self-annointed “experts” over at The Content Farm. The first step to paying off your credit card debt? Get money. It seems obvious now, but your lack of expertise probably blinded you.

How J.C. Penney gamed the search engine system. Yeah. J.C. Penney. Even the most staid of mall anchor stores are hacking their way back to relevance.

Multiple links here. All good. The story behind security firm HBGary and one man’s idiotic attempt to take on notorious hacking hivemind Anonymous. To quote one of the many: “Moral of the Story: Don’t drum up business by banging on a hornet’s nest.”

1. The Man Who Knew Too Little: Behind Aaron Barr’s (of HBGary) convoluted plot to bring down Wikilinks.
2. How Aaron Barr tracked down Anonymous and paid heavily: 68,000 company emails made public, 1.5TB of data flushed, Twitter account hacked, website defaced, and more.
3. After Anon’s preliminary attack, Aaron Barr confronts his attackers. Bitch-slappage ensues.
4. Anonymous details the hack.
5. The complete IRC chat log of Barr’s “face-to-face” with Anonymous.

More Heavy Rotation(s) available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archive

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50871004@N00/3576914654

Tobacco – Six Royal Vipers.mp3

Tobacco makes a particularly unhealthy form of electronica, one that sounds like it’s composed in a roomful of lengthy wiring and dust bunnies, lit with a single, flickering fluorescent bulb. You can almost picture him hunched over a jury-rigged beatbox, surrounded by overflowing ashtrays and unsleeved LPs, coaxing out distorted melodies and warped tones, occasionally interrupted by tripped circuit breakers and periodic hits from his n2o cartridge.

Clinking through the discarded cartridges, he presses REC on the reel-to-reel which is loaded with decaying tape originally purchased from a boot sale somewhere in the darker parts of Mile End, along with a set of ancient pornographic comic books, a stack of which are currently in use leveling out the mid-70s console stereo.

Finally happy with his efforts, Tobacco dumps it all into the aging Atari ST (don’t knock it: Fatboy Slim still uses one) and, with a flip of the circuit breaker and some wire rearranging, sends it to the waiting vinyl press. One the grooves are imprinted, Tobacco grabs the fresh acetate and drills an off-center hole in it and quickly inscribes “???: ? RPMs” on the label.

No Age – Losing Feeling.mp3

When not confidently speeding through Pavement-damaged angular indie rock, No Age like to wind their way down a poppier, melancholic path lit only by filtered sunlight and bright chords which intermittently expose the darkness just below the surface. This is the way indie pop should be done: kiss to the brain melodies coasting on frictionless sounds just left enough of radio to avoid being tagged “sellout.”

The Fauns – Road Meets Sky.mp3

Nu-gaze that conjures up the best Lush tracks with a bit of Slowdive (see below) thrown in for good measure.

Glitter Bones – Race to Heaven.mp3

Like a slightly more cheerful Slowdive, making use of the same softly focused palette but with brighter colors mixed in. Kind of as if Slowdive had hied the fuck up out of watery Reading and relocated to somewhere with a few more months of steady sunlight. Like Ibiza.

Glitter Bones‘ dreampop sounds a little poppier and a little less like the suicidal teen down the block and hits your ears like a love letter written on a sugar rush.

Slowdive – Machine Gun.mp3

For comparison. (Also works fine as a stand-alone piece.)

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films: Volume 8

February 18, 2011

Better “sometime” than “never,” it’s the penultimate edition of our long-running, long-winded guide to the “American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films That Everyone Agrees are Pretty Much Good Films.”

Previous editions available here:
AFI’s Top 100 Films Archive

Chaplin's imaginative use of color was completely lost on the film stock, which refused to be anything other than black and white.

81. Modern Times (1936)
Another Chaplin-esque masterpiece, thanks to its prominent use of Charlie Chaplin in a variety of roles, including actor, director and writer. A searing indictment of industrialism, Modern Times is heavily metaphoric, which generally means it plays well with film school students, who have a tendency to read lots of stuff into other stuff, and stoners, who like all things “heavy” and/or “deep.”

Of course, Chaplin’s exuberant physical comedy also tends to make these same stoners feel “tired” and “not able to make it into work today,” leaving them free to channel-surf away to less tiring entertainments like children’s programming or test patterns.

James Dean poses in his traditional give-a-fuck style, dwarfing a nearby house with his outsized persona.

82. Giant (1956)
The second third (see also: Rebel Without a Cause [#59]) of James Dean’s cigarette-burned body of work, Giant details the inner turmoil of an outwardly successful family of farmers or oil barons or something.

Its sweeping vistas and temperamental glowering illustrate perfectly the truism that “money can’t buy happiness” and, unfortunately, neither can “no money.” Along with it not being able to “buy happiness,” “no money” is unable to buy much else, like comfort or stability.

Critically acclaimed despite its lack of leather jackets and Sal Mineo, Giant continues to pose a haunting “What if…” in regard to Dean’s severely truncated career as well as a “What if…” in regard to Elizabeth Taylor, who in later years would seem to have been better off “not living.”

Oliver Stone would rehash this same haunting imagery for the final scene of "Any Given Sunday."

83. Platoon (1986)
Coke fiend Oliver Stone draws upon his own experiences as a Christ-figure during the Vietnam War to craft this Charlie Sheen vehicle. Despite being the hot new face on the scene (a scene which apparently included a whole lot of hookers), Sheen is regularly out-acted by co-stars Willem Dafoe, Forrest Whittaker and the local flora.

Stone’s message-laden film uses its Vietnam War backdrop to allow the viewers to fill in the blanks of his forgone conclusions resulting in a minorly epic biopic which fearlessly bashes an unpopular war more than a decade after it ended.

North Dakota: nothing but dead bodies and snow.

84. Fargo (1996)
Midwesterners: when they’re not murdering their partners in crime, they’re murdering English with their flatly nasal interjections, am I right? Supposedly based on a true story that never happened, the Coen brothers’ Fargo is a dark comedy of errors with a mile-wide mean streak.

On the bright side, Frances McDormand took home an Oscar for her portrayal of a small-town policewoman, marking the first time that the Academy has recognized a pregnant woman in this fashion. McDormand delivered a cute acceptance speech while barefoot and on her way the kitchen to make finger sandwiches for the Academy members.

Unfortunately, a hairdressing accident forced Chico Marx to perform the film wearing a melted showercap.

85. Duck Soup (1933)
Comedy classic featuring a troupe of stereotypes performing under a revolutionary surname, one which garnered them some unwanted attention during the McCarthy hearings. The so-called “Marx Brothers” included Groucho Marx, a philandering wisacre whose numerous affectations included a moustache and eyebrows, a constant cigar and the low-slung gait of a hernia sufferer; Harpo Marx, a mute manchild whose penchant for upskirt glances was offset by his harp ownership; Chico Marx, whose Italian accent and bad habits were an inspiration for the Mario Bros., one of whom was inexplicably named Luigi; and Zeppo Marx, whose vanilla personality rarely conflicted with the extras who frequently stole his scenes.

Their comedy was a mixture of verbal wit, absurdist physical comedy and the occasional show-offy musical interlude. Duck Soup is one of their most typical efforts, filled with all the elements listed. (“State Room Scene” not included.)

Clark Gable combated baldness by grooming his back hair upward.

86. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
An unflinching look at maritime regulations via the denizens of the HMS Bounty, a seafaring ship (that’s a Cusslerism) whose minor uprising became the stuff of near-legend. This cautionary tale offers a somewhat brutal reminder as to why it’s never a good idea to pick a fight in the middle of the ocean, especially with someone who retains very “old school” ideas about crime and punishment.

Unfortunate things are said, most of them “out of line.” Whips are deployed. Everyone gets too much sun. A hierarchy is challenged. Water pretty much everywhere. Someone gazes intently at or through a sextant. Men speak at length in salty, impenetrable sailor lingo.

Nothing pisses off reanimated corpses faster than dimly lit windmills.

87. Frankenstein (1931)
Original film version of Mary Shelley’s beach novel Dr. Frankenstein, which thrilled vacationers with its fast paced mixture of Jewish golem mythology and British Hammer horror. The “Frankenstein” actually refers to the good doctor who earns the ire of both the Homeowner’s Association and the Chamber of Commerce with his affronts to God and outsized electric bill.

The intrusive townsfolk are none too thrilled with the monster either, thanks to a.) it being a monster (and an affront to God) and b.) its habit of tossing things like children into the nearest river to see if they’ll float.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper terrorize the middle of nowhere with their brash hairstyles and lack of proper safety gear.

88. Easy Rider (1969)
Single-handedly introduced counterculture to the US via the druggy, two-wheeled antics of Jack “Deviated Septum” Nicholson, Peter “Jane’s Dad” Fonda and Dennis “Naturally Batshit” Hopper. Consummate professionals all, Fonda, Hopper and Nicholson insisted on doing all of their own riding and stunts, especially as it became apparent that the film’s tight budget meant no stuntmen would be hired.

The film itself alternates between cautionary and hallucinatory, proving by the shocking final act that it takes a lot more than a couple of hippies and their Harleys to change the status quo. While its sentiments and clothing may seem dated, its lack of a propulsive storyline and competent editing ushered in a “new wave” of self-consciously artistic films.

Patton was later court-maritaled for "contempt of uniform." The "ridiculous pants" and "galoshes" were specifically sited.

89. Patton (1970)
One of the finest war flicks of all time, bringing home an Oscar for both George C. Scott and his co-star Enormous American Flag, the latter of which drew positive comparisons to the gold standard of dramatic backdrops, Charles Foster Kane’s Enormous Head.

Although they only had one scene together, critics agree that nothing else in the exceedingly long running time comes close to the nuanced interplay of Scott’s gruff scene-chewing and Flag’s stoic but judgmental silence. Elsewhere, people shoot people and Scott emotes gruffly. E.A. Flag is folded respectfully and shipped off to New Jersey for a scheduled appearance on a Springsteen album cover.

Exceedingly gruff/long.

Early poster mockup for "Amos and Andrew Ridgely."

90. The Jazz Singer (1927)
When Al Jolson’s blackfaced lips nearly synched up to the soundtrack and offensively stated “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!,” the world of motion pictures was changed forever. No longer would moviegoers have to suffer in silence as a hack pianist cranked out an improvised soundtrack to images of horses running or heavily made-up leading men macking on heavily made-up leading ladies in between title cards stating “Scene missing” or “I want to fuck you like an animal.”

With the advent of sound recording, “talkies” were born, instantly alienating their male audience, most of whom felt that women should be seen and not heard and the deaf, who felt everything should be seen and not heard. (The title cards were hailed by Deaf Gentleman’s Fortnightly as “Braille for the eyes.”)

Now that actors and writers were freed from the tyranny of a single sense, they began cranking out “talkies” left and right, filled to the brim with loud noises and speedy, incessant chatter.

Movies fans spent the next 20+ years being talked at constantly. During the 50s, the backlash began, led by Ghengis Khan impersonator John Wayne, whose easy drawl ran against the grain of whirlwind chatter. As westerns began to take over the cinema, actors went from being described as “hyperactive” and “fedora-clad” to being referred to as “laconic” or “possibly drunk.”

This backlash reached its peak in 1968 when iconoclast and current dead man Stanley Kubrick released 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie whose epic running time consists of long shots very lightly peppered with low-key conversations between a space crew and their computer. The “barely there” conversation drops to near zero later in the film after the computer is given the “silent treatment” by the sole non-murdered astronaut.

Skip ahead 13 years and the backlash against backlash has begun. “Talkies” are big again! Spearheaded by the indie film industry, chattery films fill the multiplex. The seminal My Dinner with Andre is the touchstone, being nothing more than a filmed conversation between two actors. This trailblazer is followed by Clerks (My Dinner with Andre with more talking, swearing and Star Wars references) and Reservoir Dogs (My Dinner with Andre with more talking, swearing, pop culture examination and chillingly soundtracked earcapitation).

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 62

February 13, 2011

Featuring Umberto, Simian Mobile Disco, the Sleep-Ins, Marina and the Diamonds (assistance provided by Pictureplane) and Bisquit. Some dark electro, light electro, post-electro, good old fashioned indie rock and a fat slab of cheese. Need a track removed? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

Previous Rotations available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archive

LINKS:

Old sports cards treated with the utmost disrespect and indignity.

The 40 Most Amazing Pictures Of The Blizzaster Of 2011: Pics, Videos, Links, News

This clip will make your brain cough up blood.

Umberto – Someone Chasing Someone Through a House.mp3

Zombie Zombie? John Carpenter? Gatekeeper? Goblin?

If any one of these ring a bell, you’re in for an atmospheric treat. Umberto lays down the creeping menace like nobody’s business, least of all the person who has just now realized the calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Knives out. That door. Fuck. That door locks from the other side. Upstairs. Shit. The lights. The fucking lights!

(While you enjoy that minimal word picture and the soothing tones of your near-death experience closing in, take a moment to revel in the pure snark of the song title. The perfect answer to the sneering Nimrod who knocks your music with a sneering, “So, you like write soundtrack music for movies that don’t exist? Is that about right?”

Let’s all hope this prick is the expendable cast member. You know, the annoying one that the audience starts shouting directions to, like “Open that door!” and “Go lay down on the centerline!”)

Also noted: Umberto hails from Kansas City of all places. Isn’t music fucking great!

Simian Mobile Disco – Hákarl.mp3

I don’t know what someone said to Simian Mobile Disco but it must have cut them deep. Something about selling out. Going pop. Jumping in the shallow end with Justice.

Whatever was said worked. SMD released the most aggressively non-commercial album of their career with Delicacies. Dark dirty dancefloor material. Brutal minimal beatdowns with no concessions granted to the hipsters, the charts or the pretenders claiming to be tastemakers.

No vocals. Well oiled precision electronics hammering the point home. Nothing under 7 minutes in length. You wanted a hit? Not here. No sellout.

The Sleep-Ins – Silver State.mp3

The Sleep-Ins are a throwback to very early-90s altrock, throwing around walls of guitar fuzz like the adopted children of the Inspiral Carpets and the Soupdragons. There’s also a bit of Dinosaur Jr’s more temperate moments (Feel the Pain, in particular) where Mascis could un-slack long enough to make a brief connection with a potential audience.

I also here a bit of Pavement in here as well (Box Elder, specfically) but this would be a Pavement that wasn’t so damn sure it was smarter than its listeners. Great, earworming stuff.

Marina and the Diamonds – Shampain (Picture Plane Remix).mp3

Marina and the Diamonds revive the adventurous near-pop of Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush (especially the latter) in this charming, chiming shard of bliss. “Rapturous” could get tossed in here as a prime adjective. Incredibly catchy, sporting a melody that goes for miles. Pictureplane is on hand to add more charm, chiming and roughed-up chords and samples.

Bisquit – Roller Boogie.mp3

I left this one for last since it may be the last thing you hear today. It’s not that other music won’t reach your ears, it’s just that whatever it is will have no chance of dislodging this insidious piece of bubblegum from your subconscious. It’s so infectious it should come with penicillin booster shots.

It’s German but the lyrics are in English. There’s plenty of vocoder scattered all over these lyrics which gives it a high-tech feel while still being retro as all hell. (Kind of like an audio approximation of The Jetsons. And the vocoder is easily one of my favorite electronic thingies, right behind the Roland TB-303.)

Do yourself a favor and watch the video, which contains some of the most half-assed choreography and easily-tired dancers I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure that if this didn’t exist, neither would the Vengaboys, which in no way diminishes the ridiculous amount of pure, naïve fun this brings to the table.

FREE SKATE!

-CLT