Showing posts with label Nine Inch Nails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nine Inch Nails. Show all posts

Aug 29, 2018

Shooter Jennings is Back With His Best Record in Years

By Robert Dean

It takes a lot of time, patience, and mistakes to realize who you are as a man. From the way we get knocked down, to what we do next when the dust settles, all of those moments matter, they say something about us, what stock we’re built from. 

Throughout Shooter Jennings career, he’s made it a point always to turn left when his peers go right, to duck and dodge, when everyone else is out there trying to sing a little ditty to sell a few Dodges. He’s a man you cannot put a label on, because the minute you try, he’ll outwit you and drop a surprise you never saw coming. 

On his latest record, Shooter, Jennings has done it again. He’s made the album no one expected, except this time, some ghosts are lingering of a different variety. Shooter isn’t a record Jennings could have made when I first met him almost ten years ago, instead, that Shooter Jennings was channeling his inner Trent Reznor, he was finding new and beautiful ways to fuck with anyone who thought they knew him. 

On Black Ribbons, Shooter Jennings wrote a concept record that has flashes of brilliance that hit harder today than we could have foreseen at the time. The fact that that album lies dormant in a lot of rock and roll minds is a crime, but hopefully, history will be on Jennings side, and he’ll get the credit he deserves. 

Following that record, Jennings stayed close to country, writing records like Family Man or The Other Life, which are strong genre records, but they still had a flavor of angst, a shadowy, “can I crank up the gain a little here”, or “can I try this concept on them” there. Straight ahead country records, they were not. While solid, that era of Jennings career wasn’t his most pure; it was a time of growth and personal observation, which in the greater catalog, we can see the direct impact of. 

On Shooter though, everything feels different. There’s no way, the guy who wrote Black Ribbons could have sat down and written “Born to Git Down” – Shooter is a portrait into a man who’s come to terms with his abilities, goals, and what he’s after. You can’t write a bunch of feel-good tunes that go hard with the beers, without a sense of purpose, and humility, otherwise, it comes off contrived and douchey, AKA most of the garbage pop country radio pedals. 


Collectively, Shooter is Jennings best record. It’s fun, it’s loud, and it’s carefree. There’s elements of boogie-woogie, Motown, pure rock and roll, and a lot of heart. “Do You Love Texas” should be a new Lone Star anthem given it’s unabashed, bold, and in your face, which are all things Texans love. My new hobby is to pull the song up on a TouchTunes jukebox, and then watch people walk up to see the track, and immediately put it on their phones.   

“Denim & Diamonds” calls back to Hank Jr’s “Outlaw Woman” a solid beer tune, good for the dark bar, and those drinks you have alone when the day’s been just a little too long for small talk. 

I appreciate and applaud Shooter Jennings for reaching inside of himself and owning his legacy and his past. I hope the world around him, and the country radio program managers take a risk and add a few of the tunes off Shooter, if anything, as an effort to save their souls, because Shooter is fun, it’s reckless, and it’s pure country music that is without false pretense. If you can’t kick up your heels to “D.R.U.N.K,” you need to take those boots right off the dance floor, mate.

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Shooter is available everywhere you ingest fine music.


Apr 3, 2018

Country Lyrics + Iconic Wrestling Moments

Wrestlemania is this weekend, so there will likely be a lot of country/wrestling stuff this week. Sorry.
Here are some iconic wrestling moments juxtaposed with appropriate country lyrics. 







Feb 26, 2018

Chicago's Harm's Way Rips Out Hearts and Souls on Their Newest, Posthuman

by Robert Dean

I’m just gonna make this review as easy as possible: The newest Harm's Way record is like a chainsaw to the face. Evolving beyond their fast, straight ahead hardcore roots, Harm’s Way is forging into water explicitly held by tried and true metal bands and ripping the seams off the baseball every step of the way. Despite its early release this year, Posthuman will be a hard record to top for its sheer violence, riffs, and brutality. 

While their prior release Rust was a step toward the direction of full-on “metalcore” Posthuman straddles both the lines of a band that can hold their own with Sick of It All, but also wreck shop opening for Max Cavalera. Harm’s Way has found a way to take the best Roadrunner riffs of the late 90s and early 00’s and package them together, but without abandoning credibility to tread new artistic waters.

The songs on Posthuman aren’t formulaic and instead try out a lot of different time signatures and thematic styles. It’s a formidable mixture of violence mixed with the history of Chicago’s tougher than leather hardcore style. Having grown up in Chicago’s hardcore scene, I couldn’t be more proud of Harm’s Way carrying the battle flag for my hometown. (I saw them open for Soulfly playing the Nailbomb record and after finding out they were from Chicago, I immediately walked over to their table and gushed. I know I looked like an asshole. I don’t care.)

Posthuman is a complex, yet a beautiful mixture of ideas that should not work. Somehow Harm’s Way pulls Posthuman off. One minute, there’s a clear Godflesh or Nailbomb influence and just went you think the band will do something lame, they go harder than the previous track. Harm’s Way isn’t a one trick pony, if anything they’re capable of releasing crushing metal records, but also maybe dropping some straight industrial EP’s a la what Trent Reznor has been doing with Nine Inch Nails as of late.


"Dissect Me" is a perfect of example of crushing riffage but at the same time shows a clear influence by bands like Ministry or Skinny Puppy. Chicago’s industrial history with Wax Trax is present in the DNA of Harm’s Way, even if the band doesn’t realize it. While the metal featured on display is ridiculous, there’s so much going on throughout Posthuman, that it’s a tease for different looks into the band’s bright future. 

"Human Carrying Capacity" is the best hardcore song of the last ten years, hands down. Sorry Code Orange, sorry Knocked Loose. Harm’s Way has released a record that’s worthy of headliner status and should bring plenty of asses into the club to swing on posers. Get ready world, these dudes have arrived.

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Posthuman is available on Bandcamp, Amazon, etc.


Feb 17, 2017

Digging Up the Corpse of Black Market Magazine

Skulls, voodoo, punk rock, with no condom: we dig up the corpse of Black Market magazine

By Robert Dean

Back in the pre-internet age, the underground music scene was ran from zines. Yes, there are still zines, but they’re not as plentiful as they were a long time ago, Mr. Know It All, Comment on Everything Hipster.

Zines were how you discovered new bands, heard about social causes, or found out weird, subversive art. Most were handcrafted, collectives of multiculturalism, or just filled with a lot of weird shit. Some enterprising folks with a vision put a lot of effort and idealism into crafting zine culture and just about all underground scenes benefitted. Because no one in bands like The Cramps or KMFDM were getting on MTV aside from the occasional bone from Headbangers Ball or 120 Minutes, indie labels or even in some cases, the majors, relied on the local music programs, or zines to help spread the gospel of new bands.

As a young buck, I worshiped the record store. I saved up all of my money to continually buy cd’s, band shirts, music magazines, and zines. I gobbled up Maximum Rocknroll, scoured the racks for NME, and even had subscriptions to Circus and Metal Edge. But, there was zine I’d read and was after it like the Holy Grail: Black Market Magazine.

Black Market existed from mid-1980’s and up until 1995, and in those years, Black Market offered the world that was fucking mind blowing to a 14-year-old kid with a Nirvana shirt on, and with Misfits and Sepultura stickers on his skateboard.  The art was subversive. It took risks, both societal and cultural: they challenged what was allowed, even in the underground community. Everything from race, to religion, and gay rights were all on display long before they became the everyday topics in our age. The magazine was just as much about the art as it was about the music. The two mediums together gave Black Market magazine a potent cocktail for all of us acolytes to swallow. We got style, attitude, a lot of knowledge out of these pages.

They allowed artists a platform for dark art and darker opinions. Nothing in the realm of Black Market was taboo.

 The music, though – that was what was mind-blowing. The Rollins Band, Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains – every cool band from the era found its name plastered between the covers of Black Market. What’s interesting seeing the magazines these years later, Black Market was not only a pioneer in their artistic nuance, but they did interviews before the modern culture molded certain figures to a particular light. The journalism, the questions were sharp, and in a way, the style precluded the VICE styled music journalism we see today with Noisey.

The magazine also featured icons of culture like Famous Monsters’ Forrest Ackerman, as well as members of the Manson family. The interviews are candid, but also truthful in that they’re biting, and honest.

Being out of print for so long, re-reading the issues doesn’t feel dated. If anything, the magazines hold up now better than ever. They’re time capsules into an era when dying your hair meant you were a freak, and visible tattoos meant you were a scumbag.  Bands like Type O Negative or Samhain were frightening, and indeed a big, detailed picture about priests engaged in questionable acts as a social statement weren’t exactly en vogue. You had to embrace and earn culture like this. Black Market shoveled all of the best things about goth, industrial, punk, hardcore, and metal into one oozing corpse and made us all love it in return.

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