Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vol. 10 - Late-Night Listening

Because some songs just fit those weird moods you feel yourself getting into.

Quinn: Whiskeytown - San Antonio

Late night listening is pretty much a pastime for me. Generally, most people go to sleep and I foolishly stay up for no good reason. In my defense, I'll say that there is a good reason and that's to listen to music -- not just to listen to it but to experience it. I'd say that the best time for really experiencing music is many hours after the moon has come to work. You can close your eyes if you want, but I prefer the lights out. Turning out all the lights and laying somewhere with a great record on is one of the best things life has to offer. Personally, an all-time favorite late night track for me is this b-side/unreleased cut from Whiskeytown. It was supposed to come out on the Stranger's Almanac deluxe reissue but it didn't. Huh. Anyways, happy listening.

Hasan: Celtic Frost - Nocturnal Fear

My love for Celtic Frost should come as no surprise to any of you, so I'm going to keep this short. This is my favorite song to jam out to in the evening. It perfectly tops off a great night. At home or in the car, the song's just perfect. It also perfectly exemplifies Celtic Frost's greatness --crushing riffs and solos, quirky time signatures, wackyness (interlude at the 2:00 mark), and of course the grunts! Can you count all the "ugggghs," kids? Now if you'll excuse me, I have some thrashing to do while in my boxers. Enjoy!

Jason: Thought Industry - Worms Listen

I have had many life-changing musical experiences on a Greyhound Bus. When I was in my twenties, I moved a lot, and I usually did it via Greyhound. In western Montana, on my way to Minneapolis, MN, I fell in love with Thought Industry. I was listening to a tape that John Haughm gave me with Thought Industry on it, and I was blown away. A lifelong love affair commenced from that point forward.

This song is appropriate for more than the title. When I was first listening to this song, it was about 3 AM, with no lights visible except for what the headlights of the Greyhound illuminated. Enjoy one of my favorite bands, ever.

Jess: Dissection - The Somberlain

Insomnia has the best of me lately. As the night sky darkens, my psyche awakens. So it’s suitable that this week’s theme is late night listening, because that’s all I’ve been fucking doing. Never underestimate the intoxicating effect of lethargy and black metal. While one pulls your soul down, the other lights your ass on fire. And that’s exactly what happens when I listen to Dissection’s “The Somberlain” at three in the morning. Harmonious guitars don’t both me only because they’re accompanied by unforgiving rhythm. Plus, I just can't argue against 1993 Dissection when I've had too little sleep. I am the Somberlain, indeed.

Adam: Talk Talk - John Cope

Talk Talk’s late period, made up of sister albums
Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, is my favorite music ever recorded. I would say that these albums are all you need for late-night listening music, but since we only get one song each, I’ve gone with a b-side from that era.

“John Cope” seems to have been recorded somewhere in between the sophisti-pop of
The Colour of Spring and the ethereal and introspective Spirit of Eden. Naturally, “John Cope” ends up being the best of both worlds and stands as one of Talk Talk’s finest moments, combining both the delicate feel of Spirit with a more pop song structure than that album. It’s simply breathtaking.

Aesop: Moëvöt - Untitled 4

There is absolutely no better late night listen than the ghostly cantos of Les Legions Noire entity Moëvöt. Every druggy, cobwebbed, spectral groan is the perfect accompaniment to a late night of consummate anguish or just general Parisian ennui. Like a séance of sound. Nocturnal as fuck.

Bitsy: Cat Power - Nude As The News

After the usual functioning hours, sitting in a poorly-lit basement seems to be the only appropriate place for me to have a good listen to Cat Power’s “Nude as the News.” Sunshine and daylight would do this song no justice. It’s one of those tracks I first experienced in the small hours before sunrise, when the rest of sleepy civilization seemed to be falling two steps behind. So I choose to keep it there—in the dark hours of the morning when I need some extra time to get ahead. With her powerful vocals and cleverly eerie lyrics, I’d like to think Chan Marshall wrote this one with us late night basement-dwellers in mind.

Tyler: Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill – Turn Your Lights Down Low

This song was beyond on smash in 1999. I remember hearing it for the first time at about two in the morning on a weeknight, writing and thinking about girls. My main hope for life at that point was that I would find someone who looked or possibly sung like Lauryn Hill and sit with her on a bench or hammock or something as this song played and shyly make eye contact. Night would become a big deal during my teens, and I would tape this song off the radio shortly after and listen to it with my eyes closed during the summers following, with visions of whoever my current Lauryn was accompanying.

Chris: Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Midnight Black Earth

To me, late night is all about the dark, atmospheric music. One of the better groups for this sort of music is Bohren & Der Club of Gore, who style themselves "doom jazz". Listening to this song makes me want to sit at a dingy bar way after dark, after having had way too much to drink. Enjoy!

Asa: Nick Drake - Road

If you've known me for more than a minute or two, one thing will become unquestionably clear: I adore Nick Drake. Every weekend, as I begin to carefully wind down, I begin what I call the "Drake ritual." Even if Chris wants to have a chuckle at me for it, this little nighttime habit is more than simply passing out to Pink Moon in its entirety. I carefully adjust the volume of my speakers just so, making sure the twangs and pops of Drake's playing don't keep me any more awake. As the record begins and I lie down to relax, I visualize one of two things. First, a ghostly Drake-- who would now be past sixty-- and still looking boyish through the wrinkles and the gray, carefully plucking his Guild m20 acoustic in the corner of my pitch-black room. Then, I imagine him seated on a green hill, illuminated by moonlight under a clear and starry sky. "You can say the sun is shining if you really want to," he croons, "I can see the moon and it seems so clear." Indeed.

Download the Late-Night Listening mixtape HERE.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vol. 9 - War

We're ten proponents of honesty here at BBHQ, and there's but one reason for the lackage of posting: Asa's total laziness. Sorry, alright? Right, on with the show...

Chris: Vindensång - Mountains of Bone

If there's any war I love to death, for whatever macabre reasons, it's World War I. I'm a junkie for everything WWI, despite being a pacifist. I'm actually really into the music of WWI, and thought about straight up putting a song written for the war effort here. However, I didn't think it would fit that well. That is, until I just recently listened to Vindensång's "Mountains of Bone". This fits quite a bit better. The song takes a British WWI song, "It's A Long Way to Tipperary" (I think the particular recording is John McCormack's 1914 version), loops it, and adds a layer of noise (gunfire, static, etc.). The juxtaposition of such a cheery, whimsical tune with the grave and violent sounds of war IS World War I to me. Total war.

Aesop: Discharge - /A Hell On Earth / Cries Of Help / The Possibility of Life's Destruction

Once again, as the oldest Blog Body, I will drop the age card. See, these young pups probably don't remember the Reagan/Thatcher '80s where these two monstrous figures of global politics graced the covers of any punk records worth a salt. Why did their gruesome visages leer back at us from so many albums? Perhaps because it was a time where everyone, punkers, rednecks, squares, all lived everyday with the notion that nuclear armageddon was just a pussy hair away, and Reagan and Thatcher symbolized western aggression and nuclear proliferation with sculpted hair and forced smiles.

It's tough living day to day under constant threat of global annihilation and nobody felt or expressed the urgency of the time better than four lads from Stoke-On-Trent, Discharge. Their take on war was so blunt, and never wrapped in poetic metaphor, you could tell they were absolutely serious. It was almost as if they bore the very real and tangible scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki just under their spiky leathers, they seemed to speak from a higher understanding of war, as if they had been there. As a teenager in a comfortable suburban setting, their matter-of-fact descriptions of the horrors of war were most uncomfortable and troubling, and in turn they spurned an interest in finding out just how bad the arms race and these horrible weapons could be.

So while other kids my age read Thrasher and V.C. Andrews I jumped headlong into John Hersey's Hiroshima. I have chosen this trilogy of war(ning) songs from Discharge's unflappable album
Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing because of the middle section with the sounds of burned and bloodied infants crying out in pain, this passage still affects me, fills me with rage, and constantly reminds me of the terror and unfettered destruction that man can unleash on fellow man. War.

Jess: Deströyer 666 - Blood For Blood

Like true warriors, Destroyer 666 erupt in chaos. This track highlights the violent lust of their 2009
Defiance. Hot. Sweaty. Dark. Blackened thrash should sound that way, period. "Blood for Blood" is relentless in hatred as much as it is playful with ass-kicking riffs. There's nothing pretty about this track, other than the guitars. They propel every transition, like wind carries a loose loin cloth tied on a sweaty barbarian. (Yum!) The bass drum kicks like leather boots in mud. And vocals, the best part, bark much like a wombat that sees red. This playfulness suits these Australians. Yet, they save their mind tricks only for their most vulnerable victims. Before they draw blood, they unleash their war cry. "We shall have our day—we shall defy—we shall not cower beneath the tyrant's heel—before the master's whip we shall not yield." Now, it's time to die.

Jason: Devo - Cold War

One of my favorite Devo songs. Catchy, quirky and not nearly as violent as Zyklon B or Marduk. Devo offers up a light and airy reflection on love and war.

I'll keep this write up short and sweet like the song itself and let the music speak for itself.

Hasan: Amebix - Coming Home

These Bristol crust punk legends weave a tale of loss, disillusionment, and redemption in the mind of a soldier. Beginning with the opening lyrics "I just buried a friend," Amebix present the feelings of disgust that most soldiers feel when on the frontlines. Taking ques from fellow countrymen Black Sabbath and their song "War Pigs," Amebix question the motives of those in power and what purpose soldiers have for fighting someone else's fight. Blending the sounds of Motorhead and Killing Joke provides for a very atmospheric backdrop, detailing the uncertainty of the soldiers' role ending with a resolution of all downtrodden soldiers to put down their arms and go home: "The boys are coming home."

Bitsy: Stars - Celebration Guns

It’s outrageous- the number of songs that have been written about war; many politically charged-- some subtle and some not so subtle in their opinions and oppositions. Surprisingly enough, I managed to stray away from anything too littered with politics and landed on some innocent, eloquent, indie pop. “Celebration Guns” by Stars has just the right combination of carefully chosen lyrics, gentle female vocals, and heartrending instrumentals to generate its moving imagery.
In my experience first listening to this song, I pictured a group of Afghan children playing in the streets, laughing, just before a score of missiles rains down. Now after reading interviews with Amy Millan (vocals) and learning that the song is about Guantanamo Bay detention camps, it’s equally if not more moving. I dread the day when my children look at me in astonishment and ask if these things truly happened while I was growing up. In all honesty, I'm still trying to come up with an explanation for that myself.

Tyler: Sam Spence - Classic Battle

Despite the best efforts of my friends and family in reserves and combat, I have an extremely glorified vision of war. Maybe seeing more
Bernie Bernards will help me understand the horrors and humanity of it, or maybe Sam Spence has ruined me beyond sufficient empathy. Spence spent decades composing movements that would hypnotize kids like me into taking slo-mo NFL Films pieces way too seriously, soldering the foolish sport-as-war comparison into America’s psyche. Near as I can tell, he composed purely to crank listeners’ adrenaline; ‘Battle’ has the added bonus of making me paranoid. Maybe it’s nothing like being on a battlefield; I don’t ever want to find out.

Quinn: Drive-By Truckers - The Sands of Iwo Jima

One enters war knowing that they might possibly die. In order to fight and to face such a reality, one has to become comfortable with death. In fact, forget war. You need to be comfortable with death in order to truly live life. War tears a man apart. War is a mix of emotions running the spectrum from horribly depressing to incredibly happy. You can read about what war does to man, you can watch what it does in movies, but you will never really know the true impact it leaves on a man's mind and spirit. Here, Drive-By Truckers give a portrait of post-war life for a World War II veteran. This track defines the word "poignant" for me. Apparently, Patterson Hood's uncle actually once said "I never saw John Wayne on the sands of Iwo Jima."

Asa: Miligram - Let's Kill

The college Chris, Quinn, and I attend (and Tyler graduated from and Bitsy once attended) recently paid Karl Rove an honorarium somewhere along the lines of $45,000 to speak at our college for all of twenty or so minutes (the rest of the two-plus hours were Q & A with students). At some point during the evening, in the midst of answering a question, Mr. Rove remarked that "Now, y'see, our army is
very good at killing people." I could only shake my head at the former Senior Advisor/Chief Deputy of Staff's bluntness, and as such have picked a similarly blunt song bearing a (I think) sardonic title, given the rest of Milligram's discography. Jonah Jenkin's powerful pipes rage beneath layers of guitar fuzz and splashy, punishing drums as the song's drudging riff, recalls a the unwavering intensity of the thousand-yard stare.

Adam: Bilskirnir - For Victory We Ride

Perhaps it was my nerdy upbringing spent playing fantasy games or maybe it was my realization that the civilized warfare of today is not only just as barbaric as that of yesteryear, but a thousand times more boring! Either way, I, at the age of 21, still love glorified and chivalric valour more than most. But who could possibly be even nerdier and like this stuff even more than me? The answer is quite simple: National Socialist black metal dweebs.

Bilskirnir, who is the project of
potential skinhead (read: potentially sexy) Widar, is not only one of the best black metal projects I’ve ever come across, but also has its fair share of nerdy-ass moments. There’s nothing harder (sarcasm) than a vaguely-Germanic dissident spouting off lyrics like “the battle has begun/for victory we ride!” In the end, “For Victory We Ride” is the triumphant call to arms and the subsequent vanquishing of all those who oppose the great Widar: Z.O.G., AIPAC, and that nefarious NWO!

To download the War mixtape, click