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Is banned art-film, ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,’ the weirdest music movie ever made?


 
Director Todd Haynes is well-known for his arty, fictionalized depictions of music iconography. Velvet Goldmine was a glam rock epic, with characters modeled after Bowie and Iggy, while I’m Not There features seven different actors portraying “fictional” facets of Bob Dylan’s personality or mystique. Both films blur reality with stylized interpretations, but neither takes even a fraction of the liberties Haynes exercised with his 1987 grad school student film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.

The film opens up on Karen’s death, then flashes back to narrate her rise to fame. It’s a spasmodic format—switching between interviews with peripheral music industry people, random footage and fascinatingly elaborate mise-en-scène reenactments staged with Barbie dolls and melodramatic voice-overs. In reference to Karen’s anorexia, Haynes actually whittled down her Barbie effigy with a knife for later scenes, mimicking the progressive emaciation of her body. It’s a dark portrayal of a slow death, Karen and Barbie, both icons of American perfection, wasting away before our eyes.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is technically illegal to exhibit, although since the advent of YouTube, it’s a bit of a moot point (the upload embedded below was posted in 2012). Karen’s brother Richard sued Haynes for copyright infringement. MOMA has a copy but even they aren’t allowed to screen it. Even if Haynes hadn’t used Carpenters songs, there’s a good chance Richard Carpenter would’ve found basis for a lawsuit. Haynes portrays Karen as the victim of her narcissistic and tyrannical family, even suggesting Richard was closeted.

It’s difficult not to be sympathetic to Richard Carpenter who probably viewed the film as mere ghoulish, exploitative sensationalism. It’s a strangely invasive and voyeuristic piece of art, and the argument could be made that it’s totally unethical in its ambiguous, semi-biographical fiction. It’s also totally hypnotic, with a compelling narrative and a pioneering experimentalism that makes it one of the great cult classics.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Combat Shock’: The Troma film inspired by Suicide’s ‘Frankie Teardrop’
10.10.2014
08:03 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Suicide
Troma
Combat Shock


 
Frankie’s having a terrible day. His wife and infant son are starving. He’s run out of money and food. Now he’s going to be evicted. He’s got a gun. Let’s hear it for Frankie…

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the story of the 1984 Troma movie Combat Shock bears a striking resemblance to that of Suicide’s harrowing song “Frankie Teardrop.” The movie concerns the struggle of a young man named Frankie to feed his wife and child in blighted Staten Island, and if you’ve heard the song, I don’t have to tell you that it ends pretty badly for Frankie, his family, you, me, and the entire human race.

Frankie isn’t a factory worker in this version of the story, but an unemployed Vietnam vet whose days and nights are continually interrupted by flashbacks of ‘Nam and the torture he suffered at the hands of the VC. These, in turn, lead to flashbacks within flashbacks where, for purposes of exposition, Frankie relives arguments with his father, now estranged because a) Frankie has refused to carry on the family legacy of race hate and b) Dad disapproves of Mrs. Frankie. Suffering through the exposition of any movie is itself a form of torture.

However, these gestures toward the conventions of plot are mercifully few and brief, and Combat Shock soon makes with the laffs and gasps you crave from late-night horror fare. Much of the pleasure of watching Combat Shock comes from the genre detail writer, director, producer and editor Buddy Giovinazzo adds to extend Suicide’s story to feature length. For instance, because of Frankie’s exposure to Agent Orange, and because this is a Troma movie, the child looks like a cross between the Eraserhead baby and Edvard Munch’s screamer.

Until the awful climax, the movie takes its time presenting a loser’s-eye view of urban anomie. If you’ve ever lived in a place that had a TV set, you already know all these characters: Frankie’s slow descent into madness involves demoralizing encounters with small-time hoods (Frankie’s creditors), child prostitutes, junkie thieves and social workers (one of whom is missing a Ronco Veg-O-Matic). There are also one or two thrilling surprises, even for the very jaded.
 

 
And in case you somehow feel cheated of your full share of human misery after watching Combat Shock, here’s a kind of sequel to “Frankie Teardrop,” Alan Vega’s 12-minute bum-out “Viet Vet.”

 
Thanks to Greg Bummer of Azusa, CA!

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Hide from the Sun’: The new video from Sweden’s psychedelic shamans GOAT
10.10.2014
07:45 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Goat


 
I couldn’t be happier that Sweden’s GOAT got to be such a big deal so quickly, as I just absolutely LOVED them from the word “go.” Their union of acid-fried psych guitars, surreal Krautrock dreaminess, Afrobeat’s funk rhythms, and the otherworldly unison-chanted vocals of the band’s two female singers goes beyond just organic—this music is practically elemental.

Their debut, titled World Music, and packaged in a stunning die-cut cover, was by a long shot one of the best (and best-reviewed) albums of 2012, a fantastic year for new releases, so their triumph wasn’t merely by default. The LP yielded the heavy single “Goatman,” the catchy as all hell “Run to Your Mama,” which was the subject/object of two amazing remix records, and the big mindscramble of “Goathead,” an acid-prog blowout which seemed to endeavor to strand their fellow heavy-psych Swedes Dungen in Fela Kuti’s compound. Right before the big raid.

Their live shows, too, attracted near-unanimous acclaim. The band takes the stage in identity-obscuring costumes that draw inspiration from the tribal garb of indigenous peoples all across the globe, with specific references to Islam (their bassist has appeared wearing a niqab), Africa, and the pre-Columbian Americas. When combined in concert, the colorful apparel, the dancing of the singers, and the volume and vehemence of the music are all quite intense. This photo gallery represents the band’s look well on a larger stage, but in a small venue, the show is completely immersive. I saw them this summer—and some of you will laugh at this, but whatever, up yours—at a bowling alley in Cleveland, with a low stage that afforded the band incredibly direct engagement with the audience. The concertgoer who shot this phone video had to be just a few feet to my right and a bit behind me:
 

 
Yeah.

Late last month, GOAT released World Music‘s follow up, Commune. While World Music wanted to dance, chant, and fuck in the primordial ooze from which all life emerged, Commune aims to touch the transcendent. (The obvious question: is “commune” a noun or a verb here? An imperative?) While the winning formula is unchanged—Afropop beats, check; fuzz-blitz guitar solos you want to bring along with you when you die, check; ESL hippie lyrics rendered in soaring, unison wail, check—this record’s sounds are leavened with a cathedral’s worth of reverb, and its grooves are as often meditative as booty-shaking. But the trancey atmospherics here are genuinely absorbing, and while it’s not as immediately gripping as the debut, Commune could prove itself as a more accessible entryway for GOAT initiates. It opens with slow-building chimes, like Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” and AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” which build into the plaintive and distant “Talk to God.” Subtle, right? See also “The Light Within,” “To Travel the Path Unknown”—there’s plainly a mystic’s agenda at work here. The band are at their robust best on “Goatslaves,” album closer “Gathering of Ancient Tribes,” (cough cough G.O.A.T.) and the lovely, raga-drenched single “Hide From the Sun.” We’re privileged at DM to be debuting that song’s video for you today.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be’: Crispin Glover’s concept album, 1989
10.09.2014
06:39 am

Topics:
Games
Music

Tags:
Crispin Glover


 
In 1989—not so long after he starred in River’s Edge, tried to kick David Letterman in the face and published his first book Rat Catching—Crispin Glover released an album. More than a mere new wave or spoken word record, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be presented itself as a riddle. On the back cover, above a collage of nine items including photos of Hitler, Charles Manson, unidentified clowns, and Glover as Jesus crucified, these lines of text dared listeners to reach out and touch someone:

“All words and lyrics point toward THE BIG PROBLEM. The solution lay within the title: LET IT BE. Crispin Hellion Glover wants to know what you think these nine things all have in common. Call (213) 464-5053.”

(It was rumored that Glover sometimes picked up, but every time I dialed this number I got the answering machine of his press, Volcanic Eruptions.)

Recorded with Barnes & Barnes of “Fish Heads” fame, the album included readings from Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot; indelible interpretations of “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”; and originals that ranged from a ballad about hygiene (“The New Clean Song”) to a rap about masturbation (“Auto-Manipulator”). Promotion (*cough*) seems to have been limited to a video for “Clowny Clown Clown,” whose lyrics referred obliquely to Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, in the excellent cult comedy Rubin and Ed. At the time, the reference was all the more oblique because the straight-to-video movie did not come out until 1991, two years after the release of The Big Problem. In the video, Glover appears dressed as “Mr. Farr” at the appropriate moment in the song.

The entire album is now up at UbuWeb. Wikipedia and UbuWeb both report that the phone number printed on the sleeve has been disconnected. However, they fail to mention that Glover’s—or that of Volcanic Eruptions—current number, (310) 391-4154 is posted on his website. Why don’t you give him a call? The nine items on the back cover of The Big Problem are:

I. The killing and maiming of defenseless animals?
II. Cleanliness?
III. Indignant, righteous, self manipulation, with discrimination against others?
IV. Clowns?
V. Getting out of bed?
VI. Boots?
VII. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, who might just as easily be called a gloating woman seducer?
VIII. Charles Manson never saying “Never” to always?
IX. Oak Mot?
  A. Adry Long circa 1868?
  B. Adolf Hitler circa 1932?
  C. Adry/Hitler in the minds of history forevermore?

What do these things have in common? If you find out, let us know.

The video for “Clowny Clown Clown”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Stray Slack: Incredible full Pavement concert, Germany 1994
10.08.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pavement


 
Oh man, what wonders the Internet coughs up. The last thing I’d ever expect would be for there to be a full-concert video of Pavement from their 1994 Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour, “two camera fan-shot (one back, one side). Cams were edited and enhanced with soundboard feed and cam audio matrix-mixed to create excellent professional quality multimedia production.” Wowee Zowee indeed!

This video captures Pavement at their most tuneful point—the audio can’t replace the studio versions but is outright excellent for what it is. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is jammed with idiosyncratic would-be classic rock gems filtered through the early-90s slacker aesthetic, as if Steve Malkmus could transmute the fractured genius of Slanted & Enchanted into a crossover gem. Pavement never got the adoration of the masses that Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins did, but Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain remains a sun-splashed classic. Briefly put, I could listen to this all day—and I probably will.

Full disclosure, I was a super-duper die-hard Pavement fan in the 1990s, I’ve seen them five times in my life, and this show in Frankfurt probably happened within a week or so of my first Pavement show, which took place at Vienna’s Arena. I just spent ten minutes trying to figure out the exact date of that Vienna show, but to no avail—I’d guess it was a few days later. This Frankfurt show in the video happened on March 6, 1994. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain hadn’t even been out for a month yet. Stereolab supported them on the European leg of their tour, at least that’s who opened for them in Vienna. At the time I was so into Pavement that I beseeched a friend in the U.S. to send me any bootlegs he could find. Lo and behold, a few weeks later a CD called Stray Slack arrived in the mail, documenting a 1992 Pavement gig at Brixton Academy as well as a bunch of essential B-sides and stuff. I played that thing to death.
 

 
It’s noteworthy that they open the set with an unreleased song, “Pueblo,” which would make it onto 1995’s Wowee Zowee. (Another track from WZ makes the cut as well, being “Brinx Job.”) The boys play nearly every song off of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain—the only ones they leave out were Scott Kannberg’s composition “Hit the Plane Down” as well as “Range Life,” which is curious because the latter quickly became something of a fan favorite. “People don’t do drugs anymore, they just ride carpets,” says Malkmus—yeah, Steve, whatever.

By my druthers there’d be more songs from Slanted & Enchanted, but what are you going to do.
 

Set list:
Pueblo
Gold Soundz
Silence Kit
5 - 4 = Unity
Cut Your Hair
Elevate Me Later
Newark Wilder
Debris Slide
Trigger Cut
Two States
Brinx Job
Unfair
Heaven Is a Truck
Box Elder
Stop Breathin
In the Mouth a Desert
Forklift
Fillmore Jive

 

 
via Biblioklept
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Thomas Pynchon wears a Roky Erickson shirt on ‘The John Larroquette Show’ (sort of)


 
An item that caught my eye in a Sunday issue of the Los Angeles Times 20 years ago remains the strangest story I’ve yet come across in the entertainment section of a newspaper. It said that the novelist Thomas Pynchon, who has never consented to be photographed or interviewed by a journalist in his adult life (unless this 2001 Japanese Playboy interview is authentic), had given script notes to John Larroquette of Night Court fame for an episode of the actor’s new TV series. Stranger still, one of these notes revealed Pynchon’s preference for the great rock’n'roll singer Roky Erickson over Willy DeVille. What a marvelous time to be alive, I thought, with what remained of my mind. Remember, this was ten years before Pynchon appeared in an episode of The Simpsons looking like the Unknown Comic, and in company so incongruous as to beggar belief.

Unlike some sitcom actors you could name, Larroquette likes to read books. (He has an impressive collection of first editions with a particular focus on the work of Samuel Beckett.) For one episode in the first season of The John Larroquette Show, in which Larroquette played John Hemingway, the alcoholic manager of a bus station in St. Louis, the actor had an idea for a story about Pynchon. He sent the script to Pynchon’s agent—who I believe must have been Melanie Jackson, to whom Pynchon has been married since 1990—and the author obligingly replied. I’ve never seen the episode, “Newcomer,” which had aired several months before the article appeared, but I hold out hope it will turn up on YouTube.

Here’s the meat of the story reported by the Times:

Pynchon has a special love for the losers lost on the wayside of the American dream. So co-executive producer Larroquette decided to feature Pynchon in a script and sent the work-in-progress to Pynchon’s agent for approval.

“We made up a novel that he hasn’t written—and he gave us permission to say that he had written ‘Pandemonium of the Sun,’ ” Larroquette says.

The mysterious, never-photographed Pynchon refused, however, to let a “Larroquette” extra, in a plaid shirt, be videotaped from the rear and represented as Pynchon.

One scene called for Hemingway’s antagonist, the lunch counter operator, Dexter (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), to reveal, quite casually, that he’s a longtime pal of the much-traveled writer.

“You must have seen him, he was sitting here last night!” Dexter insists. The script says Pynchon was wearing a T-shirt with the picture of a certain, obscure musician.*

“Pynchon, through his agent, wrote back and says, ‘Would you please make it a picture of Rocky [sic] Erickson on the T-shirt?’ ” Larroquette says.

“I looked up Rocky Erickson. He was a psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll musician in the ‘60s who was institutionalized shortly thereafter and spent most of the rest of his life in an insane asylum. Somebody that Pynchon liked, I guess.”

*Willy DeVille of Mink Deville
 

Dr. Timothy Leary talks about his wish to meet Thomas Pynchon

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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iBeenHACKED
10.07.2014
04:57 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Media
Music

Tags:
smartphones
Tim Fite


 
I’m one of those people—there are still a few of us left—who adamantly refuses to carry a cell phone. I had one in the late 90s for about a year, but I dropped it on a marble floor and didn’t replace it until 2007 during a period where I was traveling a lot. And that one is just a flip. It’s also never charged and I really have to hunt for it when I need it.

I simply don’t like the idea of anyone being able to reach me wherever I am. If I’m out in the world, or having lunch with someone or driving, I don’t want to take a phone call. My email can wait. I will not be texting anyone or Instagramming my selfies from the vegan food truck. All of it can wait until I get home.

I know it’s very… 1989 of me, but I honestly just don’t care. It’s not even that I am particularly anti-cell phones or anything, it’s that I personally do not require one.

Brooklyn-based art prankster/beatmeister Tim Fite is a man after my own heart. Realizing he had a “codependent” relationship with his smartphone he designed a glass iPhone replica called “The Phoney” to wean himself off the always on, constantly-updating datastream he was addicted to. Kind of like an e-cigarette that doesn’t have any nicotine. Or any battery for that matter.

Fite’s new project takes it further: iBeenHACKED is social commentary in the form of a musical concept album and art installation investigating the ways that the digital teet intrudes upon our daily lives and alters the way we live. The project includes a limited edition series of handmade glass “Phonies” and the taking over of a Brooklyn storefront that was turned into a giant smartphone and art studio, then gallery space. For the album, rather than try to sell CDs or downloads, Fite tried some alternative strategies to monetize his work such as the sale of advertising between songs and personal shout-outs. The songs lampoon online “liking” (“Like”), smartphone addiction (“Check Yo Cell”), the cult of Apple products (“Big Mac”), binge-watching (“4 Seasons”) and more.

If you like this post, please consider “liking” it…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Republican punk rockers Yuppie Pricks rip ‘Obama’ to the tune of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Bodies’
10.07.2014
11:51 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk

Tags:
Yuppie Pricks


 
Dangerous Minds reader Jason submitted this video by “Republican” punk rock group Yuppie Pricks, a group who rebel against everything punk rock was supposed to be rebelling against. It’s hip to be square again, I suppose.

Sung to the tune of the Sex Pistols’ “Bodies,” their latest ditty “Obama” slags off you-know-who and actually manages to be well… funny, something that, face it, almost never ever happens with reichwingers.

Conservatives just aren’t funny. They think they’re funny, but they aren’t.

This is pretty funny:

He was a boy from Kenya-stan
He has no birth records
Vacations to Hawaii
Don’t mean you can lead our country

How could you Dems be so ignorant
To give the White House to an immigrant
He is a liberal
He routs [sic] for the fucking White Sox

Obama – a fucking liberal
Obama – a fucking liberal

The Founding Fathers’ Christianity
Is written down as plain as can be
Religious freedom to worship our God
Wasn’t meant for A-fucking-llah
Barack is African for Muslim
A fucking liberal
He’s a Muslim

Obama – a fucking liberal
My God – He’s a Muslim

Free health care
What a fucking mess
I won’t wait in line
When I need my botox
I need it now man

Tax this and tax that
Tax it all and tax my fucking ass
You don’t want a President who looks like that
I don’t want a President who looks like that
Obama – a fucking liberal
Obama – He’s a Muslim

Obama – He’s a liberal, Obama – He’s a liberal
A liberal, a liberal
He’s a liberal, a liberal, liberal…
He’s a Muslim
He’s a liberal, liberal, liberal…
He’s a fucking liberal

Where’s my money?

Not bad, right? At least they’re funnier than Dennis Miller.
 

 
The artists’ statement from YouTube:

“We love B.O. We love the tons of money he’s made us during his presidency. We love the fact that he’s made the market easy to manipulate via the stupidity of the poor and gullible. Our portfolios are up 476% since 2010 alone. We love playing the left against the right, so both sides can jerk us off and the deposit goes right into our bank accounts. This guy is a better Republican than Bush!” - Trevor Middleton of Yuppie Pricks, Pharma Magnate

“The best part is that we didn’t have to use any of the 47% of lazy American moochers to make this video. Chinese child labor is much cheaper, and they aren’t allowed to take breaks. Thanks for the clicks, suckers!” - Deuce Hollingsworth of Yuppie Pricks, Third Generation Divorce Lawyer

“Obama” is from the Yuppie Pricks’ new album Appetite for Consumption.

Next stop Fox News!
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Listen to ‘Tommy’s Congo’: Amazing track from Steve Gunn’s new ‘Way Out Weather’ album
10.07.2014
09:11 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Steve Gunn


 
I’ve had an advance copy of avant garde guitar hero Steve Gunn‘s new album Way Out Weather (out today on the Paradise of Bachelors label) for some time and it’s been one of my favorite things to listen to over the summer. Clearly I wasn’t the only fan, the album got an 8.0 and a rave review at Pitchfork today.

Brooklyn-based Gunn is perhaps best-known for formerly being a part of Kurt Vile’s group The Violators but this new album is his tenth long player since 2007. There’s not really a lot of biographical information about him out there despite his over fifteen years as a working musician, but the music speaks volumes anyway. The complexity of the songwriting on Way Out Weather is a clear indication that it’s the work of a seasoned professional going someplace deeper. There is a profound craftsmanship to what he does here. Gunn really pushes the boundaries of what an acoustic guitar can express, that’s for sure. He’s got an interesting voice, too.

Here’s the exclusive premiere of my favorite number from Way Out Weather, its wild finale, “Tommy’s Congo.” It sounds like the bastard lovechild of La Monte Young and Jerry Garcia or a slightly sinister Krautrock meets Laurel Canyon-flavored version of Terry Riley’s “A Rainbow in Curved Air”!
 

 

 
The video for “Way Out Weather”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Morrissey has been undergoing cancer treatment: ‘If I die, then I die’
10.07.2014
08:13 am

Topics:
Current Events
Music

Tags:
Morrissey
cancer

morrpixcc12.jpg
 
Morrissey has told El Mundo newspaper via the Morrissey-Solo message board that he has received treatment for cancer. In response to the questions, “Your fans are worried about your state of health, in recent months you have been hospitalized and have had to cancel several concerts. How are you feeling?” the 55-year-old singer wrote:

They have scraped cancerous tissues from me four times already, but who cares. If I die, then I die. And if not, then I don’t. Right now I feel good. I am aware that in recent photos I look unwell, but that is what illness does. I’m not going to worry about that, I’ll rest when I’m dead.

Over the past year, Morrissey has been troubled with health issues and has been repeatedly hospitalized. Early last year, he was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer, then in March of the same year he had double pneumonia. This was followed by respiratory failure in June and food poisoning in July 2013.

In the interview Morrissey also discussed why he supported an independent Scotland (“because I like people to rise up against regimes”) and his dislike for David and Victoria Beckham:

I can not stand David and Victoria Beckham. The tragic importance that the British media give this couple is what has made us a nation of zombies. They are nothing, but their egos are abnormally overdeveloped. Victoria never does anything, but she’s always busy, absorbed in her self-worship, like “McDonna” [author’s note: for Madonna, probably]. And her husband, well, he does not know how to speak English and his business is disgusting. He has a line of perfumes that have been previously tested on animals, as if animals are accustomed to wear cologne. Remember: if you buy his aftershave lotion you are supporting animal torture.

Read the whole interview here.
 
Via El Mundo

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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