Beastie Boys – The Sounds of Science (1999)

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I have not seriously listened to the Beastie Boys in about 17 years. To me, they will always be a 7th grade thing, a paper route thing, a chillin’ with friends and playing Goldeneye thing. Even though they were quite popular among people my age – “Intergalactic” was such a perfect single for weird kids who were tired of N*Sync and the Spice Girls – I always had the sense that the Beasties were sort of a legacy act, whose career dated back to the early days of hip-hop. They seemed like the old guys in the room – little did I know they were only in their early 30s at the time. I remember the reception of Hello Nasty being divided between their new, younger fans (who seemed to love it), and those who’d been there from the beginning (who felt it was gimmicky and ended a streak of classic albums). The message was clear – you better find those old albums.
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Prismcorp Virtual Enterprises – Clearskies™/Home™ (2013)

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In my early teens I worked on an RPG. Thanks to a fun little program called RPG Maker 2K, anyone could do it. The game was called Rigging the World and it revolved around a plot to steal a fictional country’s election with the help of the Russians, and I swear I am not making that up. I think what happens is you rescue a couple of Russian guys from a dungeon somewhere and as a token of gratitude they end up helping you become President, so you can stop the impending end of the world or something. The characters’ names were “Natron” and “Bong” and I believe one of the special attacks involved Colonel Sanders. It had one “official” release and reactions ranged everywhere from “this guy’s got some talent!” to “what the hell is wrong with you?” I think the latter reaction was probably the right one. Continue reading

50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong

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There’s always that sense of denial. “How could it be?” David Bowie, Prince, Keith Emerson – living legends who were abruptly no longer living. Despite their general appearance of good health, they’d all apparently been battling more than they’d let on. Not Mark E. Smith. He wore it all on his face and in his bones; performing with black eyes, in a wheelchair, or fall-down drunk, he looked like a man who’d spent more time in the back of an ambulance than a tour van. He’d once resembled a young Beatle, all mop-topped and fresh faced, until he abruptly started aging in dog years. I mean, even his Manchester spirit brother Shaun Ryder took a break from the lifestyle and tidied up – Mark E. Smith left this planet on a four-decade bender. Their 2008 album Imperial Wax Solvent featured a song called “50 Year Old Man”; my reaction was, “holy hell, he’s only 50?” And yet they’d keep on chugging. New album after new album – what’s that, 30, 31, 32? Endless tours, supported by a long parade of energetic young men whose only dream was to play in The Fall and occasionally catch a right hook in the face. Last year it’d been reported that he was unwell; he actually cancelled some gigs, which is not a good sign, given the amount of illness and injury he was known for soldiering on through.
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Farewell to 2017

Look, 2017 was a garbage year and I think we’d all just rather move on. Nazis roamed the streets, giant hurricanes ravaged densely populated areas, half of California is on fire, all of your favorite people who didn’t die last year got outed as sex offenders, and President Donald Trump managed to gut social programs and mortgage our children’s futures so he could give the 1-percenters a tax cut they absolutely do not need. Worst of all, Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, giving the Minnesota Freakin’ Vikings the opportunity to be the first team to play in a home-field Super Bowl. The silver lining? Well, we’re not in a nuclear war, so that’s good at least. Anyway, I guess some good music was released this year, and as usual my “year-end” list is not so much a list at all as it is a haphazard lumping of various albums that I mostly already wrote about. I do not really have an album of the year, usually when I declare such a thing I wind up wondering what the hell I was thinking a couple weeks later. But there was a lot of good stuff, most of which I haven’t heard, but hey. Only so many hours in the day. So here are my end-of-the-year awards – as usual, links to better, more well-thought out opinions when they exist:

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Stewart Copeland, Klark Kent, Klerk Kant, and Gizmodrome

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Who could this mystery man with the terrible logo possibly be?  

When I was 10, I had a fairly memorable dream. I was at the arcade, which for whatever reason now had a jukebox, and I was flipping through all the CDs and came across an album by The Police that I had not seen before. I remember the cover looking something like Reggatta de Blanc, but palette-shifted. Since The Police were my favorite band at the time (overwhelmingly so, in fact…I rarely listened to anything else) I immediately put all my quarters into the box and played all the songs in order. There were 12 of them; for some reason I can remember that. The first song started playing and…I woke up. So I just laid there, trying to remember the melody of the song, or anything on the tracklisting, then figured if I went back to sleep maybe I could recapture it. Nope. Lost forever in the deep recesses of my mind. Granted, had I stayed asleep, I probably would have found that all 12 songs sounded an awful lot like “Roxanne”. But, still, that’s the kind of dream that excites you as a young kid. An entirely unheard album by your favorite band!? What could be better?
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Gary Numan – Savage (2017)

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Finish him!!!

The coolest thing about this album is that it entered the UK charts at #2. Gary Numan is a living legend of course, and the history of electronic music would be incomplete without him. But man, was this guy ever left for dead commercially – there was a time when a Gary Glitter comeback seemed more likely. In the early 80’s Numan shifted from being uninterested in hit singles to being really desperate for one, leading to a series of unfortunate choices that left him a prime target for mockery in the UK press. He’d adopted funk, hired some backup singers, and decided that the best way to sell records was to load ’em up with saxophone. All of which was like seeing your dog try on a pair of jeans. The story of Numan’s commercial collapse is best observed through his album covers; from 20’s noir to Mad Max to Blondie McSunglasses and his Blue Hair/White Face phase, Numan was searching fruitlessly for anything that would stick. Hard to believe the “floating head” look of Telekon would be something like an artistic peak for him, but there it is. By the time of Machine + Soul he’d been tucked into the lower right corner, as if to say “pay no attention to the man whose name is on the record”. After selling approximately 7 copies of that record, he decided he was due for a change. Even the president of his fan club (who he’d later marry) had to look him in the face and tell him that he sucked now.
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Tim Heidecker – Too Dumb For Suicide (2017)

“At least we’ll get some good music out of this”, they said. That half-thought was hardly any consolation the morning after – not only do we have to deal with him, but the Third Coming of Green Day as well? If any “great art” has come out of the reaction to the Donald Trump administration, I haven’t seen it yet. Yes, people are angry, and yes, people are motivated, but it’s not an inspiring anger. There’s no nuance to it. No cleverness. No finer point to put on it. The problem is not that his policies are harmful, it’s that they are blatantly so – we are now on our third round of “call your elected officials and tell them not to kill you”. The problem is not that he lies, but rather that he lies like a 5-year old with cookie all over his face. It’s not even the fact that his admini51OeyBJ44gL__SS500.jpgstration may have colluded with a hostile government, but rather how brazen and open they are about it. It’s not like any of this is a secret. His low approval ratings are unprecedented, especially given the circumstances he inherited. His healthcare bill and his tax bill are the two most unpopular pieces of legislation in modern history. If he was the villain in a Disney movie, he would be written off as too unrealistic; no one’s going to buy a character that’s this much pure ego, are they? He is beyond satire; even the great impersonators like Anthony Atamunuik don’t really make me laugh the way the GWB ones did, because the truth is always stranger than fiction. Trump deploying the term “Pocahontas” at an event to honor Native Americans? C’mon, that’s a gag in a C-grade SNL skit if I’ve ever heard one. Defending a pedophile because at least he’s better than some random Democrat? That’s a throwaway panel in a Tom Tomorrow cartoon. And so on.

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