Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Handsome B. Wonderful's Thirty-Seventh Annual List of the Top Ten Rock Albums of the Year, sponsored by Aut-O-Post and viewers like you*
Marrow of the Spirit. Being a moody, emotional clusterfuck kind of guy, I'm a sucker for the art of these Portlanders, sprawling, complex paeans to the beautiful & terrifying natural world, multi-chambered hallows of gentle acoustic splendor & electric power chords. Perfect for late-night headphoning, more so for walks around the long block in the refreshingly bitter December evening. Stuff like this only strengthens my joy that I'm not cursed to live in warm climes.
Not Freedom Rock.
Stuff I dig, standard caveats apply. Nearly off to the mythic land of non-furlough vacation (assuredly next fiscal year) so get your queries/hate mail/suggestions I'll gleefully ignore/nelsonmuntzing in now. Here's hoping you won't be sacrificed to Mithras even though you probably deserve it.**
What I want for Christmas? Neither a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock & this thing which tells time nor a magical pixie dust that transforms politicians into the object of their deepest fears in a Cronenberg-does-After School Special kind of gig but a chronology machine so I can go back & be in the audience at this devilishly swanky concerto for group & power chord.
1. Rome, Nos Chants Perdus. Some soundscapes seem to be emblematic of a particular season. For many, spring wistfully soars whilst Beethoven's Sixth swirls in the ear, even sans the maestro's program notes. This album -- & this is neither good nor bad in & of itself, merely observational, though thank the gods for it -- possesses a flexible facility to boil its suitably melancholic folk alchemy using salty heat, decaying earthtone leaves, falling snow. The adaptability of this listener's already existing sentiment? The overwhelming power of these songs. A permanent rotation comrade, comrade.
3. Ihsahn, After. Saxomophone. Sax-o-mo-phone & progressively hefty, occasionally quiet, shifty metallic runs. The anthemic, night sky power of Emperor, evidemment, remains a referent, as do the classic influences smeared over his first two solo works but this is unquestionably the wise-man-on-the-mountain pinnacle of the planned trilogy, though where the fuck Mr. Tveiten goes from here is up to a confluence of wintry cold, Scandivanian bitters, lutefisk, 7-strings & that sphinx known as inspiration. Majestic.
Septembre et ses dernières pensées. The French Agalloch? Perhaps. There are certainly worse bands to share a passing stylistic affinity with, 99.9% of the rest if we're being technocratic & since it's the 21st century, we are. Je reste triste that the spectacularly promising & oh-so-short-lived Amesoeurs split their constellation, but this fragment is a worthy spectral remnant, less a commentary on glass & steel dislocation of said century, more the workings of the human spirit in dis/concert with the world & the self.
Eparistera Daimones. Meaty, beaty, big & bouncy & big. Repetition is requisite, for these riffs are big, subterranean cavern full of unspeakable horrors big. But what do you expect from a guy who's vomited forth the likes of Morbid Tales, To Mega Therion & Monotheist? Doom takes precedence over speed, age being a factor. No, a decline in slick wrist flicking skill isn't the culprit, but simply the tremendous weight of experience, the space between filled with such grey bleakness; donc whereas unbridled rage may best be served by youth, an expansive, cacophonous brush is by us geezers.
Paracletus. A religious experience. Does it really matter whether the object of worship is Old Scratch, a tyrannical Semitic sky god, Gene Roddenberry or the squirrel digging for nuts in your front lawn? Oh, you betcha, bet on a vortex of DSM-IV riffs needling through your skull, son, pulling tight like a torture from Barker's Hellraiser in reverse, the pieces torn inward upon themselves in a bloody, mashy goo. It is the end, after all, & by the way, ha ha, fooled you. There's no comfort. Thank Satan for
Demain, c'était Hier. Brusque, lush neo-classical wondernoir -- that word may not roll off the tongue, but platitudes do & they stroll in that twilight glazed by dueling natural & artificial luminescence. Night music for true night owls, not out-on-the-town simulacra settling for middling faux-jazz stringy pickup lines; there's something less gentle rondo, more taut polonaise, a propulsive tugging/listen, you're not going anywhere. Maybe it's a French thing, maybe I'm hearing what I want to hear, maybe it's no matter.
8. Electric Wizard, Black Masses. Look man, if I turned this website into a full-time Stuff Randal People Like gig, amongst other things, there'd be posts on grimy power chords, the bleak pall that hangs over existence [ed. note: so find your niche & make a hash of it with loved ones], Hammer Horror, Lovecraftian lunacy, smoke 'em if you got 'em, versification & the X-Files. These blokes + one chick cover all that save the last two on platter after platter & here's another serving, a bit less muffled special brownies, now rattling bones scuffling across basement flagstones towards the Marshall stack to turn it up.
9. Alcest, Écailles de Lune. Given the seductively atmospheric aural & visual qualities that are the ichor of this outfit, dissection isn't a word I'd associate, but black metal has been dissected here, drained & filtered, burned & reconstituted, stripped & restitched, nourished & refashioned into something as beautiful yet different (is it even black metal any longer? Not so much) as that genre's best. Here, the omnipresence of death dissolves under a filmy pall of some heretofore unknown otherland.
Bang the head that doesn't bang.
11. Sabbath Assembly, Restored to One. If you'd like to know more about the Process Church of the Final Judgment, consult your local library. Or this record. Dexterous vocalist Jex Thoth praises the four deities over a gurgling bed of billowy, percussively hymnal 70s fuzz rock. Unsurprisingly expansive here & there, but Jesus, Jehovah, Lucifer & Satan are just alright with me.
Immaculada. The second neo-folk concoction from ex-Anathema bassist Duncan Patterson tastes like Gaelic, Mediterranean, this, that, mandolin & the other thing with a pinch of vocal & musical helping hands yet after all that is even more minimalist than his previous platter, just as delicately somber, but the most beautiful aspect is the natural charm of it all; nothing's forced, songs develop at the seemingly proper pace & quibbles are stylistic (& quite minor), never intent.
The Extra Dimensional Wound. Speaking of unbridled, youthful rage a bunch of entries late, these upstarts from the city of angels are less Raphaelite than Luciferian. Chortle. Hammers smashing faces & other violent clichés various & sundry speed the dismemberment of cochleae, the riffs backing up the bravura. Plus the band name is fucking ridiculous in a Saturday morning cartoon Ed Wood sort of way. Banzai!
14. For some unknown reason -- subconscious directives, genetic quirk of personality, government mind control rays, magic mushrooms -- I have difficulty spending vast gobs of time actively searching out & listening to new releases, whether by heretofore who-the-fuck-are-theys or old favorites, preferring to glom onto a select few albums, often highly anticipated, oftenish random acts of senseless surfing, spinning/clicking buttons over & ad infinitum. Thus, as usual, a 738-way cop out for stuff I either haven't heard or haven't given sufficient hours to in order to pass judgment like an angry cracker op-ed columnist, Krauthammer I'm looking at you. I'll get around to 'em all, Apollo, swear: Darkthrone, Circle the Wagons; Shining, Blackjazz; Cathedral, The Guessing Game; Witchsorrow, Witchsorrow; Cough, Ritual Abuse; Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky; Hail of Bullets, On Divine Winds; Monster Magnet, Mastermind; Gnomonclast, Tempus Null; Ludicra, The Tenant; Krieg, The Isolationist; Salome, Terminal; Triptykon, Shatter: Eparistera Daimones Accompanied; Jucifer, Throned In Blood; Slough Feg, The Animal Spirits, any suggestions I gleefully non-ignore et ceteroony neighborino.
*Rembrandt Q. Einstein is on hiatus. 2010 only spun currently-owned oldies.
**I'm kidding. Except for that one guy. You know who you are. Asshole.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sorry, I old-man-wheezed. I can't afford acid.
One thing that is cheap (& abundant) during this holiday season even for non-festivarians such as myself is nostalgia & I tell you, what's more nostalgic than Tecmo Super Bowl? Happy Nintendo.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Always warms my heart when there's a franchise out there even more dysfunctional* than recent Browns' vintages.
*for the record, the Cavs aren't dysfunctional. They merely suck.
P.S. I can't believe I missed this & although not quite on the level of Miami's LeBron James 'frightened' of Cleveland in NBA, it's still comical.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Anger management, or, the semester's over, now I can waste even more time shaking my fist at the clouds
People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get in line
All you need is somethin' to block the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, 'cause we're outta time
Sorry Curtis, I like my version better.
"This is how it all will end, not with floods, earthquakes, falling comets, or gigantic crabs roaming the earth. No, doomsday will start simply out of indifference."
Seems that everyone's zeitgeist is riled up these days about various & sundry: angry loners; comrades in bookmanship; the unemployable; my sometimes-better-half, shockingly not at yours truly for once even though it's her fault 98.6% of the time. Is it navel gazing if I'm gazing at everyone's else navel gazing at everyone else's navel? Is it navel gazing at all if it's some form of political? Being stupid & lazy, questions way above my pay grade. Serendipitous in some respects, as said spousely anger spontaneously discharged in a conversation last night between noodles, the finer points of porn, a one-man rant on the awfulness of the non-Boobie Cavs gleefully ignored by the rest of any nuclears within earshot & the offspring's progress reports. Quite odd given that we usually spend our dinners alternating scowls & uncomfortable silence. Bet our kids spiked the teapot.
Anyway, I wouldn't say I suffer from indifference, merely that I just don't care. I kid, I kid. Sort of. Now, I can't say I've witnessed grocery cart chicken in the local feedbag -- though I once did get coins thrown at me whilst on library duty, true story -- but I'm on board with sporting the toga! toga! of anger, though chez Randal's brain, is it directed specifically towards our beloved generation of three-piece action figures with the kung-fu grip or at said plastics as merely the latest in a long, inexorable line of institutionalized assholery? Or is it rooted in something more selfish, since I honestly do prefer a minimum of face-to-face interaction, these monsters merely the most grotesque, thus convenient, visage placed on this quirk of my personality, a surfeit of righteous indignation soon discarded with the greatest of ease as I trapeze back into the Bat Cave?
Sure as hell ain't SAD as, contrary to certain cheese-eating surrender Californistanianites, I love me some cold, blustery weather. Misery loves my hospitality. The omnipresent, if sleeping, burnout ready to awaken & crawl up from Tartarus? Phlegm better kept under wraps? Who knows. What I do know is that I'm a firm believer that the extent of my, or anyone's, ability to permanently influence others rapidly (read: rapidly) shrinky dinks the further out from the inner circle we go, thus the best I can hope for is to teach my children well like a good non-hippie -- something gaining more & more TV time as one's about to sayonara high school & the other's nearly to join, Christ I'm old -- to 1)not be a motherfucker; 2)assume the worst of everyone & everything until proven otherwise & 3)distrust authority, the unholy headwaters, wellspring, font & source of motherfuckery. So unless 6 billion non-motherfucker motherfuckers flip the metaphorical, literal & extra-literal (conspiratorial hack 'em ups & assorted other extra-legal shenanigans) bird, good luck solutioning, suckers. Shrug, additional shrugging & tunes.
Pimpin' cynicism ain't easy. But it is comfortable.
Whether that's a fault is a line for another day.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Returns, beautiful returns, now and forever, amen.
I've always wondered what percent were actually read. While I ponder such a cosmically important conundrum in lieu of substantive posting in the frozen turf, click & read the fellow travelers on the lower right. Sadly, expect a dearth of metal, the fucking heathens.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Such a fimbulvetr* that even we closed yesterday & we never close, & during finals week of all epochs -- Invasion of the Thought Snatchers! Pod people say the worstest is that the sequel to Customer Service Training Day was missed! Gasp! -- & now those poor shlubs gotta schlep on down next week to get their makeup on.
Squirrel, you have got the brass.
Kitchen window art.
Imagine how pretty that would look in the hands of a real photographer.
*it wasn't that bad, but apparently, certain people are currently shocked that it gets cold & snowy & icy in Cleveland in December. With that said, if you've got a job that won't can your ass for being late -- comical these days, I know -- make sure you're late. Don't leave an hour early, an hour of your time, for the sole benefit of The Man.
Posted by Randal Graves at 9:15 AM
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Oh! Old Doc Cholera's Doppler Specific says there's a Fearsome Lake Storm 'a brewin' an' if we all put on our Galvanic Chain Belts n' pray real hard to the Lord God Our Creator, mayhap this Storm'll last an'a won't hafta come in to work on Tuesday. Ay-men.
In the news or no, I'll never get tired of this
though what that says about me I have no idea, but one have that I do have is a question, an important one, a query of opinion all for you, gentle readers. In light of the universally applauded comic stylings of Bush the Smarter's offspring, has the once (& future?) gold standard of pretzeldential hijinks been superseded, & if so, is such usurpation temporary or permanent & if so-er, either/or, too early to tell? Inquiring Weekly World News readers want to know.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Today (tomorrow, actually, but Saturdays are freebies, essentially a dimension separate from the space-time continuum we pretend to inhabit) be the last chapter of the penultimate week of scholarship & next, everyone examines their failure with a drunken arrest chaser or whatever it is college kids do these days, smartphone sex orgies, Oompa Loompa hunting, public transportationista confessions, I just want it to be over, especially with the beautiful monolith of Ten Whole Days Away From Here Praise Cthulhu ready to fall with a ferocity, mocking the flaccid Pisan tourist trap, grinding panoramas into the nepenthe of sweet, sweet oblivion &
snow shoveling why shovel, you won't have to go anywhere, won't have to conjure faux-pithy commentary on worldwide &/or local fuckery, won't have to do anything but conceive of an overly-intricate plan to assassinate writer's block with a soon-to-be-legendary sangfroid & toast yourself in the aftermath. Oh, & pizza rolls.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Future minions of the state & hangers-on at gold-plated Chechen nuptials, are you worried about job security due to drinking curiosity from the leaky faucet of The Man? A bit of advice from someone with years of experience in avoiding getting caught slacking at work: paper football. Find your local commie -- every burg has one -- purchase their friendship via ironic t-shirts, have them print Wikileaks out & after reading 'em, sportify 'em, then when you hear the big three-piece strutting down the gilded hall, hit that game-winning kick into la poubelle. Unlike tiddlywinks or porn surfing, cleaning up incriminating evidence is already built into the game & what are the odds that your cubicle is under 24-hour video surveillance.
Take that, fascists!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
"It reads right here how to be good enough and smart enough so, gosh darn it, patrons like you."
"Then why do you still wear that mask, Gene."
"We all wear them, hired gun."
"That's not the mask I mean, Gene."
'tis amazing just how much the language of capital pervades virtually every sector of society & though I don't foresee an outcome as comically disturbing as this bit lifted out of a bad screenplay, there's only so much salesmanship & selling/growing the brand jargon one can take -- I do still work in a library, yes? -- before my corporate gobbledygook-addled brain drifts off to the land of Wikileaked bunga-bunga soirees.
Bros before hos.
Hold a gun to management's temple & they'll admit their preference for Colgate smile incompetence over mumbly grumbly quality because that's what we've all been conditioned to accept as the interactive default, the miraculous salve for feelings hurt from some uncomfortable truth. Of course, such pain only matters to the institution as concerns the public facade of said institution. Don't even get me started on the 'folded arms offend Shiny Happy People & promotes an unhealthy reliance on stark, clear language' bit. George Carlin is rolling over in his grave, vomiting profusely so his corpse doesn't choke & die a second death.
If I'm wrong or fuck up, I want to be called out on it. It really is okay to be wrong &/or fuck up & be called out on it, amply demonstrating that we're not a copy of the Cheneybot.
Speaking of things that make me mumbly & grumbly because I fucked up & am calling myself out on it, look, I get that the Cadavaliers reside in the lower reaches of the buxom East, but after their 52nd consecutive double double-digit loss, I hardly think it's coincidence that our arguably most effective player is nicknamed Boobie.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"What's today, my fine fellow?"
Christmas Customer Service Training day!"
IT isn't enough, IT is never enough, goshdarnIT, to be powerpointillist assessed by our social betters through two, yes, two, separately different yet equally facilitating 120-minute empowering opportunities strategically placed at the culmination of the 24-hour employment cycle.
Let's walk it back a moment: how can one possibly assess the ultimate incentivized goal of exceptionally excellent resource quality gifted through the paradigm of assessing self-assessment sans preliminary pre-assessment?
Mind, boggle no more.
Lo, behold & hark! (ed. note: the following battery of percentage choices accompanied each pre-self-assessment statement but for the sake of blog cleanliness [right there next to Cthulhuliness], you only get one, though with a second, I bet I could repurpose my Demonstrate good times come on from 35% to 36%, thus vitalizing a whole other deliverable of rightsized reader appreciation. Thank the Old Ones that I work in the public, not private, sector or my healthy disdain for not-by-choice a-man's-gotta-eat face-to-face human-management interaction might have resulted in these cheap sneakers being lost post-downsize in a pile of
shell casings ash. I'm a pyromaniac, not a fighter.)
1 - I hardly ever demonstrate - less than 5% of the time
2 - Demonstrate 6% - 20% of the time
3 - Demonstrate 21% - 35% of the time
4 - Demonstrate 36% - 55% of the time
5 - Demonstrate 56% - 70% of the time
6 - Demonstrate 71% - 85 % the time
7 - Demonstrate 86% - 95% of the time
8 - Almost always demonstrate - 95% - 100% of the time
I consistently show positive non-verbal communication such as make eye contact, smile, show open stance, do not treat customers as an interruption.
I thank the customer at the end of every interaction.
I remain calm under pressure and during difficult situations.
I restate to clarify situation(s) (e.g., Mr. Customer, are you saying that the payment for this fee isn't showing as credited?).
I manage difficult situations with ease (e.g., angry customers).
I project professionalism through appropriate presentation (dress, hair) and neat/clean work area.
I treat co-workers with the same (if not better) courtesy and professionalism as external customers.
I have excellent phone skills (answer within 3 rings, identify self and area, smile, pleasant tone, etc.).
I build rapport through excellent communication skills and timely follow up (e.g., tailor style to situation, overcome barriers, follow up within 48 hours, etc.).
Sounds like we work in a high-class brothel. We don't, but if we ever add such a supplementary revenue stream to our operations in light of the austerity movement within state & federal government, you'll be the first to know.
Thank you now I feel like Ozzy I love you all.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Any edumacated guesses as to when begin feasibility studies of this as a bioweapon? I say yesterday.
"So nasty, it'll kill ya twice!"
Feds, a suggestion: instead of testing it on an unsuspecting & innocent populace, unleash it on the Cavs' olé D.
P.S. Can you all check your milk cartons? We seem to have lost a J.J. Hickson.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
At least the attendees won't have this gazing down upon them.*
On a far, far, far less frightening, though sad, note, this development.
I think hiring the TSA would've made a sexier evening for everyone, don't you?
*whatever happened to the Velvet Elvis? No one has any standards anymore.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
One ought to take time digging through these aural works & find the goodness that lies not only on the obvious surface, but below. Allegorical? Hidden meanings that aren't there? Pshaw & harrumph, respectively. Oregon's finest -- sorry, Ducks -- gift another masterwork with Marrow of the Spirit where it's nigh pointless separating track from track as each is a vital part of the whole, a biosphere of which the listener is also a part.
Neither the percussive, acoustic coil of The Mantle nor the immediate riff cascade of Ashes Against the Grain are what commences album number four, but a short, subdued almost-field recording of nature, They Escaped the Weight of Darkness, punctuated with somber cello measures.
I took this photo last week of the moon through the trees (aside: hey, for once, the graininess works), stepping into our backyard & onto a bed of leaves (aside deux: suburbanites, please don't rake; you lose a little ambient something) that crackled & dispersed with each movement of my feet, the insect world in counterpoint before the mechanical rudely intruded with the hum of a passing car. Even then, such transient sounds fold themselves into this construct misleadingly named silence. This tableau, found in the introductory track, transfers its analog, granular quality into the blasting blackness of Into the Painted Grey & her turns of quiet, despairing phrase, taxonomies of melancholy found in John Haughm's harsh vocals & in clean, labyrinthine grime, 'I can feel the era slipping into oblivion/no longer grasping the texture.'
Plucked from the maze of trees, the spaces between sound crash & recede with the breeze, as rising & falling feet in hill & ravine, crumbling sidewalk & concrete road, The Watcher's Monolith. Go on, take a break from plastic hurly-burly & walk through a forest. It speaks. Watch the sky on a violent autumn evening, find some place outside of the day-to-day. No musical Luddite manifesto, no call for stark devolution but songs for those who still dig the earth & the green things, the white of winter, the black of a storm. Romanticism with a capital R, a bridge spanning ten, twelve, seventeen minutes, you'll find no apologies here.
Guitars gurgle in an underwater reverberation before piercing the drawn-out glass of Black Lake Nidstång, strings shudder, anguished vocal, eerie bass echo, fretwork & chimes entwine in a darker mirror image of all things, the midsection of Mott the Hoople's Half Moon Bay, floating over the drifting leitmotif of the song & the album itself, the centrality of the journey. Forget Joseph Campbell, for this isn't heroic, isn't redemption, but losing yourself in the moment, drinking it all in. Sadly, a lost art.
Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires holds the essence, the ghost if you will *groan* of the band's debut closer, with a wink & a nod to the triumph latent within conscious disconnection, the song mirroring how effortlessly such a world comes into being out of such disparate musical elements. Again, that moment, that healthy, renewing separation from the manufactured. The slow motion instrumental echo of past sense, of memory crossing the liminal a shade before the seven-minute mark to participate in the marche funebrè of To Drown, a denouement that's almost a bit anti-climatic, especially with, ironically, the memory of the powerful catharsis of the last album's Bloodbirds still fresh.
Yes, new skinsman & rarities god Aesop Dekker's work is the most energetic heard on an Agalloch LP to date. The production's of a rawer air, no six bill Fostex four-track basement job, but organic, roots, the dirt, mud, experience, existence. The peaks aren't as immediately discernible as on past works (Limbs, You Were But A Ghost In My Arms, Pantheist) but the visceral, unifying thread is present. Tune in, turn on, drop out.