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The Curmudgeon

I love the autumn. It’s cold but not too cold, the air is cool and sometimes misty and foggy. Plus you can wear black all the time without getting hassled like you do in the summer. But in the autumn you can accessorize your leather jackets and boots with all sorts of cool clothes, scarves, etc…There is something great about a cool night with a crisp air that really gets you going. Plus you get all the fun of Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day thrown in as well! Yes indeedee the fall is pretty kicks ass! The downside to all of this though is that the dark, sinister crappy selling season of Christmas is just around the corner.

Are you tired of the midterm elections yet? My heavens, it was too much overload. I love politics and think everyone should be informed and discuss issues, but I resent getting two zillion calls on my answering machine and hundred of flyers and postcards in the mail. It pisses me off that we waste energy and trees on a lot of stuff that we can decide on for ourselves by thinking and being a well read society without the propaganda. Please spread all the political feces you want, just find a way to do it that doesn’t diminish the rainforests or clutter my mailbox or waste my time. The Earth is dying, folks–can we think about that before we make thousands of stupid postcards that are just going to get thrown out?

Speaking of politics, I urge all of you to write your leaders urging them to find a way to keep Tim Allen from making any more movies.

[ad#longpost]The Spooky Black and Dark part of the column starts here!

Glen Danzig is back with Black Aria II, a follow up to the sweeping, massively epic predecessor of the same name. On this effort things are still orchestral in scope, but more minimal in execution. There is a lot of noise and experimenting going on and Danzig is clearly trying to build upon the foundation of Black Aria. If you love Danzig then check it out, otherwise it isn’t for the faint of heart.

The Celebritarian Corporation Gallery of Fine Art is the new LA art gallery owned by Marilyn Manson. Mr. Manson recently scored a cover of “This Is Halloween” for the new 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Speaking of Tim Burton, he is adapting Sweeney Todd as a film starring his honey, Helena Bonham Carter and his main man, Johnny Depp. Burton also recently directed the video for “Bones” by The Killers.

Speaking of spooky things, one of the things that bugs me about Halloween is that the kids these days have no appreciation for the classic films of science fiction and horror. I mean, there is a whole generation coming along who have no appreciation for the Chaneys, Lugosi, Karloff or Vincent Price. Even the Abbott & Costello monster films were great. Sadly these fine gems have been grossly overlooked in favor of the likes of Saw III or remakes of The Fog. Sigh.

Along those lines isn’t it weird how much The Day the Earth Stood Still remains relevant and compelling today?

The Non Spooky part of the column starts here!

Kurt Cobain is officially the richest dead celebrity. He’ll be at the Dragoncon Walk of Fame next year.

Andy Taylor has left Duran Duran.

As the holiday season approaches all I really want is for Kevin Federline to go away. And apparently, so does Britney.

Can North Korea do some nuke tests on American Idol? I mean really, the whole thing has gotten a bit silly.

The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities, is the title of the “new” compilation from Sonic Youth. The band is rumored to be leaving Geffen records soon in search of a new deal.

The Brakes are set to release their new record, The Beatific Visions, sometime in late November. The band is playing material from that album on their current tour.

The Long Blondes

The Long Blondes, a nifty band from Sheffield, have released their debut, Someone to Drive You Home.

The O.C. is a terrible program that is adored by morons. It has spawned a bunch of scary soundtrack CDs as well. The newest, The O.C. Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks, is pretty unimpressive except for a great cover by Lady Sovereign of The Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant.”

Roger Daltrey will be appearing on an episode of CSI this season. His band, The Who, has a new record coming out, entitled The Endless Wire. News on a North American tour is forthcoming.

Genesis has reunited, sans Peter Gabriel who is busy making his own record. The band plans to tour and possibly record a new album together.

Be scared! Scarlett Johansson is recording Scarlett Sings, a collection of Tom Waits songs sung by the actress.

The Zapatistas have now been augmented and refitted into a new band, The Housewives. They are working on new material.

Janet Weiss

Former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss has joined Stephen Malkmus’ band, The Jicks. Weiss is also working on material with her other band, Quasi.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is finishing their fourth album for a 2007 release. The album marks the return of drummer Nick Jago as a full time member.

Bands never really break up they just go away until they need more cash.

The Pixies recently announced that they will enter the studio in early 2007 to record a new album. In the meanwhile Frank Black is prepping a new greatest hits album for the fall.

Luscious Jackson has rebanded and recorded a new album of children’s songs. They are still shopping it for a label but hope to release this new material next year.

Also back from the dead are Gang of Four who are reforming and planning to record completely new material for the first time since 1981!

The original Bad Brains has reformed and are planning to record new material!

A musical version of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity has opened in Boston.

Evil Dead: The Musical has opened in New York and will run through the end of the year. It is being directed by Hinton Battle, who played Cat in one of the U.S. Red Dwarf pilots and Christopher Bond, who wrote the musical Sweeney Todd.

Uber-producer Dave Fridmann (who has made great records for The Flaming Lips, The Delgados and Mercury Rev) has produced the sophomore album from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The new record is sure to be on a lot of critical “want to hear” list hits shops in January.

Listen Again

BBC DJ Rob da Bank & Chris Coco have birthed a double CD entitled Listen Again. The CD covers a lot of ground with each artist featured on a separate disc. The end result of this collaboration is a nice collection of music. There’s a lot of territory covered: BBC sessions from Arab Strap and James Yorkston, remixes of Jose Gonzales and Hard Fi, plus personally selected favorite tunes from a wide variety of artists, including Gogol Bordello, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Adem, Nightmares on Wax, Amadou & Miriam and E Berg.

Peter Hook of New Order is the author of How Not to Run a Club about his days as part owner and patron of Manchester’s legendary Hacienda night club.

Hollywood always does weird stuff. This time they have greenlighted the Mikey Leigh/Legs McNeil book, I Slept With Joey Ramone as a feature film. The book chronicles the rise and fall of The Ramones.

Speaking of dead people, Tupac has had a great afterlife. His eighth posthumous studio album, Pac’s Life, is dropping in time for the holidays.

Sandy West, the former drummer of the Runaways, died last month at 47.

Martin Scorsese is directing a live concert film about The Rolling Stones for Paramount. The non-Academy Award winning director is working with the band on a live concert film that will feature interviews, behind the scenes footage and concert footage of band’s Big Bang tour. Documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles is attached to the project as well. Maysles co-directed the Stones’ 1969 concert film, Gimme Shelter.

The Knife has become legendary for their live performances. Earlier this month they played a series of sold out shows at Webster Hall in NYC. This was perfect timing for the band as they are capitalizing on their success by releasing a feature length DVD, Silent Shout: An Audio Visual Experience.

Always in the mood to make more money, U2 are releasing U218 Singles, in time for the holidays. The record, featuring sixteen old songs and two new ones by the band, also comes with a DVD.

Gnarls Barkley is in the holiday spirit as well. They are reissuing their debut, St. Elsewhere, in an expanded edition with videos, a longish booklet of artwork and some live session tracks.

Albums That Make Me Happy:

Victory For the Comic Muse: The Divine Comedy (Parlophone). I have always championed Neil Hannon. I think he is a terrific songwriter who can work a melody and fill it out with emotion, wit and cleverness. His music is everything.

Cansei De Ser Sexy

Cansei De Ser Sexy: CSS (Sub Pop). They are from Brazil. They toured with Ladytron. They have a sense of humor, hence songs like “Art Bitch,” “Off the Hook” and “Meeting Paris Hilton.”

The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events: The Gothic Archies (Nonesuch). Stephin Merritt, the man of a thousand bands (The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes) is at it again. This time he has concocted an album for the Lemony Snicket book series under the moniker of his other band, The Gothic Archies. For this go round Merritt has reached inside himself and concocted a disturbing, funny and creepy batch of music.

Inside In/Inside Out: The Kooks (Astralwerks). Finally available in the US, this wonderful debut features a bunch of songs about relationships. The Kooks are indeed clever, as witnessed by the lead single, “Eddie’s Gun”–one of the best singles of the year. “Sofa Song” recalls the Velvet Underground in an unabashingly good way. This is some fine stuff!

Stuff I’m Reading:

If you every need to catch up on reading I recommend having a partial ACL tear in your knee. Some ice and mandatory immobility will do wonders for your reading habits. With that in mind, here’s a rather large list of stuff…

Arthur & the Forbidden City by Luc Besson (Harper Collins). Besson is a genius: he writes a children’s sci fi book and then owns the film rights for it so he can just happen to make the movie of the book he wrote. Ingenious. Plus, if the movie fails (and a lot of the recent ones have done so) he can fall back on his writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of his films, particularly the one everyone hates: Subway. Anyway, Besson is man with many fingers in many pies and writing this book is pure genius for him career wise. To be fair the book is pretty exciting for the genre and he really obviously does have a sense for telling a story. It does read cinematically and the kids will love that. I really wanted to think this was going to be crap but he surprised me.

Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quaterly). This collection of work from 1970 shows Tasumi again in fine form. He is a terrific storyteller with a great eye for capturing the interesting aspects of everyday life.

Housekeeping VS. The Dirt by Nick Hornby (Believer Books). This is another volume of collected essays from Nick Hornby. Hornby pens a monthly column on reading and comments on the books he has read for The Believer Magazine. This book is a collection of these columns form 2005 and 2006. Hornby is a skillful writer with great warmth and emotion in his prose. Having him comment on other people’s work is a little weird at first, but Hornby quickly engages you enough that you forget it is criticism. The book isn’t just a witty commentary; it’s a terrific insight into how a successful writer talks about and comparing notes on his craft.

Desolation Jones by Warren Ellis & J.H. Williams III (Wildstorm/DC). Another completely engaging and wonderful work from Warren Ellis! This time around Ellis is just as dangerous, dirty, witty and crass as ever. Ellis nails the bizarre and strange world we live in dead on and doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind. Bravo!

Black Harvest by Josh Howard (Devil’s Due). I first discovered Howard through a forum thread on this here site. I checked out Dead@17 and was immediately hooked. I love his style and how he makes interesting characters without being traditional or silly. He brings a sort of Flannery O’Connor-ness to his depiction of the South that really translates well in the comic medium. He really knows how to handle the nuances and subtleties of creating a good story. He also can scare the piss out of you too which is charming and scary at the same time.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow). It’s Neil Gaiman, people. I shouldn’t have to say much. It’s short stories from Neil Gaiman, which means they will be odd and make you think afterwards. In fact you may have to reread some of them as well. Ironically, it’s a collection about people being broken and damaged which is quite ironic really. Brilliant.

Next time, a lovely column full of holiday warmth and cheer! Not!

1 comment

  • There actually was a conversation between the five (Steve Hackett being the fifth) to go forth and perform “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,” but at a second meeting, PG decided the meetings purpose was to think about it a little longer not only disappointing the band but fans worldwide.
    He hasn’t closed the door for the future however.