Death metal, by T Coles
I read this courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. It’s out now.
Death metal is very much not my scene, but music documentaries are; Coles references the documentary series Metal Evolution from some years ago, which I adored. As a musical history of the last four decades, I found this really quite fascinating. Although it must be noted that reading the names of some of the albums and songs, as well as a description of what they’re singing about, wasn’t always pleasant. So if you’re really not in the zone for some lightly gross description, avoid this!
Surprising things include the fact that I actually recognised some names of bands! More surprising though is that the second chapter begins with a mention of Hildegard von Bingen, and the fact that in the morality play attributed to her from 1151, the instructions are for the Devil to be played with a harsh voice. Coles draws a comparison here to the ‘death growl’ that helps make death metal what it is. So that was quite a moment.
The book follows a straightforward historical line from the beginnings of death metal and its early influences in the 1980s, through to when they are finishing the book in late 2021. This means that some of what is being discussed is coming from that a period when stuff that’s regarded today as on nose was still accepted by most of the scene. The main issue here is the misogyny of some of the lyrics, and I was very relieved that in the final chapter Coles does reflect on how problematic much of that early stuff is, and how at least some modern bands are actively pushing back.
Does this make me want to listen to death metal? Nope. Does it make me appreciate it more as a musical genre? On an abstract level, yes. It’s good that books like this exist.
It Might Get Loud
I’m assured it’s not too weird to have a favourite documentary, but it does still feel a bit strange to admit that I have one – and that I’ve watched it more times than I can count. I’m not sure why that seems weird; I guess I don’t know that many people who count non-fiction things as ‘favourite’.
I love music history and I love music documentaries. Led Zepellin are my favourite band. I’m a fan of (early-mid) U2, and I quite like The White Stripes. And I love rock music. So Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White in one place talking about the electric guitar, occasionally teaching each other their songs, and each going on a journey with the documentary maker about their journey to being guitar players… I mean, I was always going to love this documentary.
The moment when Jimmy Page starts playing Whole Lotta Love and Edge and White just stare at him in raptures is everything.
They play Seven Nation Army together. And In My Time of Dying. And, although it’s a deleted scene (WHY), Kashmir.
I really enjoy the background pieces for all three, although I believe very little of what Jack White says (it’s fun to watch but I take it all with a liberal fist of salt). The idea of Page playing muzak and simply revolting from sessional music, and Edge’s horror of the Irish troubles leading to Sunday Bloody Sunday; their sheer delight in music and each other and their drive to keep playing and discovering; it’s all magnificent. I could have had a bit more of them together comparing notes, but I guess I can’t have everything.
I’m not sure that I remembered to blog my joy at discovering Kim Boekbinder, who performs as The Impossible Girl. I found her Kickstarter for the album The Sky is Calling thanks to Kirstyn; ever since my copy of the CD arrived it’s been on (um, metaphorical, since mostly electronic) high rotation. And now there’s a video for Stellar Alchemist – a song about stars creating elements…
While you’re here, you should watch this one – The Sky is Calling, the song that made me realise I HAD to have this album:
This is my new, somewhat ironic name for rock at the harder end of the spectrum that has at least a female vocalist. It’s not perfect, it’s hardly classy, but you know; some days it’s what you come up with, and it sticks. Anyway, a few weeks ago I wrote about how I seemed to have very few lady rockers on my playlists, and that I was looking for recommendations. I got quite a few, which was awesome! … and I haven’t managed to audition all of them yet, because I’m both occasionally slack and frequently time poor. (Why am I writing this, then? because this is how I prioritise my time.) Anyway, I thought I would report back my finds so far.
My post was inspired at least in part by listening to the Superjesus, only one of whose songs I owned at the time, and that from an old JJJ compilation. So I bought Sumo II, and I am totally loving it. Their lead singer rocks madly! I’ve also bought the iTunes essentials album of Garbage, which includes some songs I’d not heard before, and rediscovering the glory that is “Cherry Lips” is worth quite a lot. Of other stuff that I already knew but didn’t own, I’ve also bought the Divinyls’ “Science Fiction,” because I heard it on the radio and remembered how much I liked it.
Then there’s the new stuff. Let me go alphabetically, which means starting with The Breeders, who were care of Tansy. I previewed a fair bit of their stuff and in the end bought four songs off the album Last Splash. While I like the idea of albums the reality is I don’t listen to them consecutively most of the time, so there seemed little point in buying the whole lot when most of them didn’t immediately grab me. “Cannonball,” though?
And “Saints”? BRILLIANT.
Next, Butterfly Boucher. I did not find her via anybody I know. Instead, I heard “5678!” as part of the playlist on a Qantas flight recently…
… previewed the rest of the (eponymous) album on iTunes, and bought the whole thing. And I love it. It doesn’t really scratch my rock itch (er… push my rock buttons? Float my rock boat?), with maybe the exception of the fine “I Wanted to be the Sun,” but… I just love it.
Courtesy of Helen I listened to George’s “Release” and absolutely went mad for it. This is the sort of song I’d listen to on repeat for my walk to work. I bought the rest of Polyserena, the album it’s on, and to be honest the rest of it’s not working for me quite as much. But I’m still willing to give it a go.
And… actually that’s all I’ve bought. I’ve trialled a few of the others that were suggested and they weren’t really my thing. And there are still some, as I said, that I haven’t got to. It’s an evolving thing.
Music, women, and listening habits
I was thinking about my music listening habits the other day while I was doing just that. I had realised that new music hasn’t been happening for me for a while: I basically gave up on JJJ a few years ago partly because of the disaster that was the Hottest 100 of All Time, and partly because when we came home from overseas it just didn’t appeal to me any more. Plus, I have less time to listen to the radio than I did a few years ago, when I had a (fairly) serious commute. So, considerably less exposure than say five years ago. The two albums I can remember buying in the last two years are Old Man River, after seeing him on RocKwiz, and Imelda May, after seeing an ad for her album on SBS (while watching RocKwiz).
So, I listen to a lot of the same stuff over and over, and I’m mostly fine with that – it’s stuff I’m passionate about and really do love. What I realised though is that there’s a dearth of women’s voices on high rotation. And why? Well, my immediate reaction was that women don’t tend to sing the sort of stuff I like.
I know, right? Maybe I should listen to Galactic Suburbia a bit more often.
Thing is, I’m not saying that women can’t or even won’t sing the stuff I like – which, for the sake of this post, is mostly rock; depending on who you talk to, the harder end of the rock spectrum, shading into metal. I’m saying that I haven’t found many women who do. I haven’t looked that hard for it, to be honest, because I like what I’ve found and I’m not the sort of person who always needs New Music (my iTunes random playlist just now tossed up the Beach Boys, and I’ve been listening to them for more than 20 years). And since I’ve never actively sought out new music, that means that at least part of the fault lies with the radio stations who have been failing me, and failing those bands that I would like, if they do indeed exist. So now I’m wondering whether there is awesome music that I’ve been missing out on.
(Yes, I am now feeling more sympathy for readers who say that they don’t read books written by women because they’ve never found them. However, the analogy falls down, because while I suppose you could go your whole life reading Heinlein and Clarke (and, ahem, Reynolds and Banks and Simmons…*cough*), readers tend to look for new stuff more often than I, at least, need new music. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shelf of SF without women in it… but yeh ok this could lead to an argument about proportions etc. Which I don’t want for this post, because dammit! I have a point!)
This post is a challenge: suggest bands I might like! For reference, probably my favourite band in the world at the moment:
(that would be Led Zeppelin)
(the Foo Fighters)
Before you despair of me totally, either for feminist or aesthetic reasons, I do listen to other sorts of music, and that does often include women: Goldfrapp is probably the band I listen to the most, interchangeably with Led Zeppelin, and I love Fiona Apple too, just as examples. Honestly I have eclectic tastes (protesting much?) – but what I’m really looking for is female voices doing awesome rock.
Can you help?
A balanced diet: getting my nerd AND bogan on
This weekend has seen me both nerd it up and bogan it… down…
Saturday night we headed off to the first MSO Pops event for the year. It was called “Star Wars and Beyond,” so I was expecting it to be space-y type stuff, much like the one we went to a few years ago. Rather, it was subtitled “A celebration of John Williams,” so it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. There were still 5 pieces from Star Wars, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Superman, and Lost in Space… but we also got music from Memoirs of a Geisha, JFK, and Schindler’s List, to name just a few. The music was, of course, exceptional; the conductor was the same guy we saw do the space-themed one, and he did the same Superman joke – pulling his shirt apart – and he wore the Obi-Wan cloak, and even pulled out a Princess Leia hairpiece! He’s a good sport. Perhaps the best bit was him coming out on a tiny little bike, with a red hoody on and an ET in the basket in front….
With a 20 minute intermission, the concert lasted just over 2.5 hours, and by the end of it I was definitely done; my tolerance for instrumental music had definitely been reached. I have so many classical music aficionados among my friends that I sometimes feel quite guilty for not being that interested. But I realised something last night: I am not interested in being challenged by music. I am challenged in my reading, and I do not care to extend that to my ears. And that’s OK.
Today… well, today was different. Today we went to see Top Gear Live. We were three rows from the front, front on to the screens; we were close enough that when the flares flamed, and the cars were on fire, we could feel the heat on our faces. The ca-soccer was marvellous: played mostly with Reliant Robins (the three-wheeled jobbies), it was incredibly skilful driving. And there was a motorcyclist doing stunts that involved a JBC digger. But the bits in between the stunts… Jeremy Clarkson and James May were kinda funny; Richard Hammond wasn’t there so they’d replaced him with Steve Jacobson (Kenny), who was mostly unfunny; and sadly, the repertoire of jokes largely consisted of fat jokes, homophobin jokes, penis jokes, and poo jokes. Not the sorts of thing that are actually funny. If I had paid for the tickets, I would have been disappointed.
I did enjoy looking at the range of racing cars in the museum they had set up, though, with Mustangs and Corbettes and Alfas and Selbys… there is a little part of me that is quite the rev-head. I was sad that the rain had started when the performance finished, because it meant we didn’t get to see the drifting demonstration.
Yes, we got tickets. Well, I got tickets; my IT-pro husband has decided that I am the one to do online bookings and ticket purchasing. And in just 7 minutes of refreshing I got tickets. We’re old, so I bought seats; I couldn’t bear the thought of standing for 12 hours, or having to sit in the mud. As it turned out, this was a very good thing, since it rained for about a third of the day, and we didn’t get too wet, because I bought the best tickets in the entire world. We were in the second tier of seat at the G, in what is officially the Members Stand, and we were just far enough back that – except when the rain was going horizontal – we didn’t get wet at all. Hurrah! We were also right in front of the stage, so basically I am the Ticket Buying Master.
We got to the G a bit before midday, having not drowned in the torrential rain; this was quite an achievement. We left a bit before 11pm, again having not got too wet throughout the entire day. There were a couple of points at which we saw blue sky, but not many. I was viciously pleased to see that Sydney got some rain, too; is that mean? Not that I’m complaining about the rain per se, of course; we needs rain, precious, and we loves it. I’m just not a huge fan of being out in it. We had surprisingly few people around us; given it was meant to have been sold out, I think a few people must have piked out because of the rain. Also, I guess some didn’t come to their seats and just stayed standing up, probably propping up the rather expensive bar ($6 for a cup of Carlton Draught?? Hello…). Also, I have to say that a lot of the MCs were shite; they got basically every major Melbourne FM station to send along one of their DJs, and… it was just bad, mostly. Hamish and Andy were the best, even though I don’t always like their style; they were lightyears better than Gold FM’s Grubby and Deedee (urgh).
Anyway, what follows here are my rough thoughts on the whole day… which I’ll admit to basing on what I wrote on the day, which J thought was utterly hilarious and nerdy.
Jet: first up – a bit boring, and I felt a bit sad for them, because the crowd was largely disinterested and still coming in to boot. They then flew off to double up in Sydney; I hope they got a better reception there.
Gabrielle Cilmi: who?? I had actually heard of her, because she appeared with the Cat Empire for the Aus Open grand final concert; but seriously – who?? 17 years old, apparently youngest ever ARIA winner. Woohoo. She started with a verse of “Buy me a Mercedes Benz,” which had me amazing all these kids thinking it was her original…. Her band seemed to be made up of her Dad’s friends – old men! – and she finished with “Whole Lotta Love,” which made me nearly wet myself with laughter.
Coldplay, live from Sydney: yes, we got some stuff broadcast from Sydney, and vice versa, which was a really nice touch.I enjoyed Coldplay more than I expected, since I usually think they’re just whingy Brits.
Kings of Leon: a short set, but not bad.
Hoodoo Gurus, from Sydney: they’ve very cool for old blokes! for young blokes too, actually.
Paul Kelly: got a better reception than I was expecting from a fairly young audience; people didn’t seem to be paying much attention to him but every song got a rousing round of applause. I have a love/hate relationship with Kelly; I love his songs, but I hate them because they often make me cry.
Little Birdy, from Sydney: I love them!
Augie March: better than I expected, but I still see them as filler.
Architecture in Helsinki, from Sydney: didn’t find them that interesting.
Bliss n Eso: the only ‘urban’ act on the bill, J was very dubious, but he really enjoyed them – they have a brilliant stage presence and routine, and they worked the crowd exceptionally well. I liked their utter self-deprecation. And I quite liked their music too.
You am I, from Sydney: not really my thing.
Kasey Chambers, Shane Nicholson and Troy Cassar-Daley: for a set that’s really not my scene, they were ok.
Josh Pyke, from Sydney: we just didn’t get enough of him! We loves Joshy, eh, ?
Liam Finn and friends: the first couple of songs he did with Barnesy’s daughter EJ, and the first half of each was fine… but each one degenerated into self-indulgent bashing of instruments that utterly lacked musicality. Then he was joined by Tim and Neil Finn, and they broke out a couple of Crowded House songs, which everyone sang along to, and Liam was redeemed (a bit. Not much). Basically everyone singing along.
Taylor Swift, from Sydney: who the hell?? Funniest moment: she ripped her long black dress down the front to reveal a little gold dress underneath.
Jack Johnson: a man and a guitar and nothing else. Very Roy Orbison. Gosh he’s good.
Eskimo Joe, from Sydney: I do like the Joe. I do wish they’d sing the Sweater song still though.
Wolfmother: sadly for them, it was during their set that the rain was going horizontal, which of course stuffed up the sound for them. But they still rocked out. (As an aside, I think Andrew Stockdale chose new member of the band based on whether their hair matched his or not.)
Funniest moment of the whole night: a recording of earlier in the afternoon, John Farnham singing “You’re the Voice” with Coldplay. Every single person in the 80,000 crowd sang along, every single word. Truly we are a nation of patriotic bogans. Me included.
Kylie: suddenly appearing on stage after the minute’s silence, which most people observed (except for some drunken yobs). And making everyone sing along to “I am – you are – we are Australian” (with words on the screen! No trust of the Australian public).
Hunter and Collectors: oh. my. goodness. I had no idea they rocked so. hard. They were utterly, utterly brilliant. They finished with “The Slab,” which I’d never heard before but which is the most amazing pub rock thrash song. I LOVE the Hunters. And again, everyone sang along with “Holy Grail,” which was an awesome moment.
Presets, from Sydney: woohoo! So glad we got a little of this set.
Split Enz: a lot weirder than I think a lot of people would have expected; I had a hunch they would be. They started slowly but they finished well, and I really enjoyed them.
Icehouse, from Sydney: one of the bands I was a bit sad not to have in Melbourne, so again I’m glad we got them for a couple of songs… including, of course, “Great Southern Land.”
Midnight Oil: who were, frankly, the reason we went. Interestingly, it was almost a let down. They were what we expected – we’ve seen them live on DVD (from Wave Aid, and that live gig they released before breaking up), and they basically lived up to expectations. Which was fine, except that the Hunters had blown expectations out of the water; really, anything after that was going to be a little flat. Don’t get me wrong – they were good, Garret was as nutty a dancer as I could have hoped for – but opening with “Redneck Wonderland” felt odd, and… like I said, they met expectations, but didn’t exceed them
Overall, it was one of the greatest 11-hour stretches in memory. I’m so very glad we went, since we’ve been regretting not going up to Wave Aid for about four years now. No more regrets! I have seen the Oils live! And Hunters and Collectors!
In light of Sound Relief (on which, more in a moment) on Sunday I finally checked out the Liberation Blue site, basically to find Mark Seymour (I can’t say loud enough how much he rocked at Sound Relief). My dear friend K has been raving about this series of albums of ages; I borrowed her copy of James Reyne’s “… and the horse you rode in on” (still one of the awesomest album titles ever) a while ago, but it was before I got back into my James Reyne phase; I also recently borrowed her Michael Spilby album (remember the Badloves?), which is now a big favourite. Anyway – Liberation Blue is basically old-ish Aussie rockers doing acoustic versions. Diesel, Mark Seymour, James Reyne, Nick Barker… etc. Taxiride sounds something of a bum note, to my ear, but K assures me the album is quite good.
Anyway. “Daytime and the Dark” is raw and acoustic and a sheer delight. Not everyone can get away with stripped back acoustic; Seymour can.
While I was on the site I might also have got a bit carried away. I grabbed the Best of vols 1 and 2 (I think there’s 8 artists on each, doing a couple of songs each: how can you go past an album that opens with Mark Seymour and James Reyne duetting on “April Sun in Cuba”?? WIN!). It’s currently on back order, but I also ordered the “Signature Songs and Classic Covers” album – double CD, exactly what it says. Dragon doing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and Michael Spilby doing “Jive Talkin'”? Hello!
I’m so excited with new music. And, before postage, about $22/CD! Noice.
Hottest 100 voting
I love voting in the Hottest 100. There’s always songs I forget the name of, but nonetheless I manage to find 10 songs I liked and would want to hear on Hottest 100 Day (aka Australia Day). My sibs also have this fascination, but this they are both overseas and may not have the internet access that will allow them to vote! Ha ha!
Anyway, this is my list for 2008:
Birds of Tokyo – White Witch
Fratellis – Mistress Mabel
Goldfrapp – Happiness
John Steel Singers – Evolution
Josh Pyke – Make you happy
Lyrics Born – Hott 2 Deff
My Morning Jacket – Highly suspicious
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig!!
Presets – Talk like that
Ting Tings – Great DJ
My sister hates the Ting Tings. And I think Lyrics Born may get me kicked out of the family.
Aliens walk amongst us
I found out tonight that Mondo Rock sang “State of the Heart,” which I adore.
I found out a week ago that Ross Wilson fronted both Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool.
Tonight, I went to see Wilson at the Spiegeltent here is lovely, wonderful Melbourne. And it was very cool! He’s got a new album out on the Liberation Blue label – which is doing some awesome things for Aussie music – it’s basically all old stuff, reworked: imagine a honky tonk Eagle Rock, for example. It’s a lot of fun. He was a good enough showman, bit of banter with the crowd, obviously a good vibe with the band – there was a lap guitar! I love lap guitar! – and it was all a really great night.
I love that I don’t have to work tomorrow.*
*We worked for our day off tomorrow, don’t worry: it counts as time in lieu.