Archive for the Music Category

My Bloody Valentine Reissues: A Closer Look

Posted in Music with tags on June 27, 2012 by roarvis

It’s easy to forget that there was a time in the early 90s when musicians competed with each other to blur the lines between melody and noise. Guitars got louder and weirder, while vocals became softer and more ambiguous. Grunge had yet to take over the cultural landscape, and the future stars of Britpop were still wearing short pants.

The music of this era became known as “shoegaze,” a term that just about everyone involved has tried to disown. There’s some dispute as to whether this was an actual genre or just a vaguely connected scene. Whatever it was, most will agree that My Bloody Valentine had the strongest impact.

They had unwittingly giving birth to the nascent sound by merging an English melodic sensibility to the guitar-fueled aggression of American bands like Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. Thus began a three-year period of experimentation leading to the release of their critical and commercial peak Loveless in 1991.

After touring behind their breakthrough album and attempting an aborted follow-up, My Bloody Valentine went on hiatus. Rumors of bankruptcy, drug abuse, and mad scientist-level obsession followed. Fickle audiences soon forgot the pedal-hopping craze in favor of the more direct approach of Nirvana and Oasis.

Luckily, the band left a string of brilliant records as their legacy. Their influence continued to grow, trickling down to younger generations and eventually seeping back into the mainstream.

In 2008 they reunited for a series of live dates. Once again, minds were blown as the group unleashed their strange, beautiful, and frequently loud music upon the world. There were talks of a reissue series to coincide with the reunion, but the project never materialized.

In May, after years of false starts, speculation, and allegations, Sony finally released new versions of Isn’t Anything (1988), Loveless (1991), and EPs 1988-1991, a two-disc set of (mostly) non-LP tracks. Each disc was carefully remastered by songwriter/guitarist/mastermind Kevin Shields.

No U.S. release date has been announced, and vinyl editions are promised “in a few months” (which in MBV-speak could mean a few years). Despite these significant drawbacks, the reissues look and sound fantastic. Hopefully U.S. audiences will soon be able to enjoy them without paying for overpriced imports.

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Medication

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by roarvis

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It’s been a great year for reissues so far. Captured Tracks did an amazing job on the first two Medicine albums, which I reviewed over at The Vinyl District. I also wrote about the recent My Bloody Valentine, Unrest, and Sentridoh reissues. Hopefully these reviews will each be bathed in the soft light of the Interwebs in coming weeks.

Show-wise, I experienced the mindblowing spectacle of Pulp and attended my fifth or sixth Spiritualized gig. Ol’ J. Spaceman’s still got it.

Pirate Planet is still tinkering away. Meanwhile, I launched a solo minimalist synth project called MATHESAR. Fans of John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and the Doctor Who theme will want to take note. Also recorded for the first time since 1994(?) with my first band, The Plague Dogs. Imagine the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar as performed by Sonic Youth and The Cure – or by a bunch of whiny emo/goth kids from Ohio.

We’ve lost some great character actors recently: William Finley, Susan Tyrell, and Richard Lynch, to name a few. I attended a screening of Phantom of the Paradise at the Million Dollar Theater the week Finley passed away. It’s probably time to revisit Forbidden Zone and God Told Me To.

In current B-movie news, I interviewed Piranha 3-DD director John Gulager for Planet Fury. Apparently I am the only person over the age 13 who liked that movie…

Whole Lotta Nothing

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by roarvis

It’s been awhile since I’ve graced the blogiverse with my succinct wisdom. What have I been doing besides watching old episodes of Hill Street Blues and Homicide: Life on the Streets, you ask?

Back in November I had the opportunity to interview one of my musical heroes, David J, for The Vinyl District. Check it out here.

I have two different film soundtrack projects scheduled for this year. One is a short horror film directed by Ryan Stockstad, and the other is a documentary by noted artist Alexandra Grant. I’ll presumably be scoring the horror film on my own. The documentary will be a collaboration between Caleb Seavey and myself.

Meanwhile, Caleb and I have almost finished our second album as Pirate Planet. It’s a collection of songs inspired by Krautrock, shoegaze, space rock, power pop, ghost stories, and family life. It will most likely be ready for prime time this summer.

through the past, darkly

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Music, Podcasts on October 29, 2011 by roarvis

Greetings, my children. Halloween is almost upon us, and I’m already knee deep in Gothic celebrations and lesbian vampires. Here’s a couple things to keep you moderately entertained:

I recently attended a Nilbog show at Cinefamily and wrote about it. Cecy was there to capture some photos of the band.

We also recorded our first podcast in almost two years. It’s a Halloween themed special in two parts. It’s actually just one constant flow of music, if you download the two parts and play them back to back.

Enjoy!

Posted in Film, Music, Television with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by roarvis

I’ve been enjoying the films of Sergio Corbucci, Enzo Castellari and Jean Rollin that are available on Netflix streaming. Also watching a lot of British TV shows old and new: George Gently, The Omega Factor, Doc Martin, etc.

Sloan and Swervedriver were both great as usual. I think I’ve seen enough of the old favorites lately; time for some new bands to step up to the plate.

Speaking of which, I interviewed my friend Steve’s band The Library is on Fire and my friend Tim’s band The Archive. Friday night I’m going to see Magic Mirror, Exploding Flowers and DJ Tami at Casey’s Irish Pub. It’s gonna be a beer-soaked evening of psychedelic madness, if I have anything to say about it!

Not Now, Silent Singer!

Posted in Comedy, Film, Music, Rants, Religion, Television with tags , , , on May 20, 2011 by roarvis

“Here is a list of incorrect things” – M.E. Smith

I’ve managed to see some really great shows lately. Urge Overkill was last week. Sloan and Swervedriver each play in June, so I couldn’t be happier.

I’m obsessed with Psychoville, the new show from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton of League of Gentlemen. Why isn’t this available legally in the U.S.? Stupid Limeys. Just kidding!

Film-wise, I’ve been enjoying the work of Enzo G. Castellari. His films are laughably bad at times and quite brilliant at others. At his best, he is a master of combining striking visuals with dissonant music. He’s directed films in several classic genres including spaghetti western, giallo, Italian crime or “Poliziotteschi”, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and even Jaws rip-offs. I love how he uses the same character actors in many of his films. His most famous work is probably Inglorious Bastards, due to the remake. I haven’t watched that one yet, because frankly I’m tired of World War II. I finally watched Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, so I’m done.

A chance trip to the liquor store yielded the latest issue of Horror Hound, which is all about the greatest year in horror films, 1981. Totally worth the newsstand price.

Well, today is The Rapture. I’m off to crack open a beer and watch the ascension! Catch you heathens later.

Posted in Music with tags , on April 29, 2011 by roarvis

I am now doing a column on reissues for The Vinyl District. Check it out here.