Friday, October 31, 2014

WATCH: Go Down the Rabbit Hole with Rabbit on Acid

A Rabbit On Acid have released a video that, well, completely lives up to the band's name. Following the release of "Brohemian Rap City" earlier this month, the group (or person) is back with the above video, which features a family on what seems to be a nice afternoon walk along old over and underpasses, until they see a dead bird and a dead rabbit. Then it gets real. Or the acid kicks in, which seems to be the point here. Giant rabbits and bird/fairie people. Check. Flower child. Literally. This is like Woodstock as filtered through Lewis Carroll, with a lo-fi electronica score replete with dub overtones. Seems perfect for Halloween, or at least the fall season.

And FYE: the score to this is titled "Rabbit Bird Flower," because three word names are apparently pretty radical. Or so I'm told. I'm impressionable enough to accept this without question though. Why not, you know?

LISTEN: Touch AC - Satan's on His Way and He Wants His Hugs : Remixes for a Better Tomorrow

I wrote the other day that there was a new Touch AC remix album coming and true to my word it is. I write that sentence that way, as if to imply that I had anything to do with it, and while I absolutely didn't, you're welcome all the same. I guess you could say that I'm an American Hero like that, although I'm definitely not a G.I. Joe, because military stuff isn't really my scene. Unless we're talking Star Wars, then get my lightsaber shined up and my X-Wing ready to bounce, because I'm all in.

What is a remix album all about? Well, in my experience it's a mild restructuring of some aspect of the song; maybe it's a different bassline, maybe there is an emphasis on a different element of the track. With "Satan's on His Way and He Wants His Hugs : Remixes for a Better Tomorrow," the remix renders the track wholly fresh, a reconstruction with only the barest of the original's DNA still intact. Every participant in this remix puts their stamp on it. The opening Karass track is just that: a Karass track made to incorporate AC's rhymes. Every track manages a marriage between some component of Touch AC's raps and occasionally some of the original production, but in every case the end result is wildly different.

One last note here: it's wildly appropriate that this album dropped the day before Halloween. There is some especially dark material here, from the subject material to the production, with the only lighter moment really coming in the way of the "Poster of a Cat" remix by Cut Family Foundation, which to be fair, I'm not really sure you could make a track with that name either hard or in any way heavy sounding. The rest of the album though, veers towards minor tones and chopped and screwed vocals. And it's worth your time.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

REVIEW: The Tamerlane Trio - Be It Ever So Humble

Tamerlane Trio has been performing annually sold out shows at the Frazier History Museum for several years. You already know that because we wrote about it the other day. The trio's debut, Be it Ever So Humble, harnesses the best abilities of Mick Sullivan (Fire the Saddle, Squeeze-Bot), Amber Estes Thieneman (Sandpaper Dolls), and Rob Collier (Fire the Saddle, Century of Aeroplanes). Sullivan and Collier have been playing together for years, and it shows in the way they complement each other. The music never feels rushed, even during jauntier numbers like Little Sadie (although their take is considerably slower than Doc Watson's).

Sullivan and Thieneman's harmonies blend in a relaxing way that begs for a front porch performance. (Collier's voice has its own Tom Petty-esque charm that comes through most clearly on Frankie and Johnny. I'm sure he's heard that before.) Those harmonies inject an Appalachian flavor that make the recordings feel fresh even though the songs are well over 100 years old.

The arrangements also reveal aspects of these long-cherished songs that rarely reach the ears of modern listeners. Collier instinctively knows when to take a bow to his upright bass. Sullivan picks up a banjo or mandolin at times when you didn't know you wanted to hear those instruments. Showing great musical maturity, Thieneman, who has the most accomplished voice among the group, has no problem stepping aside when a deeper tone suits the song.

Fans of folk music have likely heard these songs before, but the performances bear little resemblance to the recordings that poured from Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Not to belittle early recordings from prominent folk revivalists (what's the point in trying to belittle someone like Bob Dylan, anyway. When he's great, he's great. When he's not, he doesn't give a shit what you think) but Tamerlane's recordings somehow manage to feel more heartfelt and precise than many of those acts without teetering into excessive sentimentality.

It's difficult to write about these songs without referencing earlier artists. They are all unfair comparisons. Tamerlane Trio has made each song their own by choosing, and deviating from,
their influences wisely. 50 years ago, an album like Be it Ever So Humble would have had Tamerlane Trio opening for The Kingston Trio. A bold statement? Absolutely. But if these fine musicians want to stay humble, someone else will have to trumpet their successes.

Stand out moments:
Written by Special Guest Correspondent Matthew Thompson, who makes bold statements all over the Internet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We're Talkin' Horror Movie Soundtracks with the Dudes from!

Halloween is right around the corner...waiting to murder you. That’s why we here at Never Nervous decided to team up with our friends from House By The Video Store to tell you about our favorite Horror soundtracks. We’re not talking about Dracula’s Pajama Party. This is full on spine-tingling, butt-clinching, terrifyingly ominous tracks that are worthy of your time. Read your own risk.

I’ll go first...

Jake Hellman (Never Nervous)
For me, no horror movie soundtrack hits the mark the way An American Werewolf in London does. It hammers home how important the “Moon” is to a werewolf. Three versions of “Blue Moon” (all amazing), Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” and “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater are all highlights of this album. If you want to see how appropriate and perfectly ironic this soundtrack is, just watch the transformation scene:

It also features, maybe most appropriately, “Cold Sweat” by James Brown. After a long night of wolfing, you always wake up in a cold sweat.

I wanted to talk about Goblin’s work on Suspiria here, but since I knew everyone else contributing to this article, I knew it was going to be addressed later. So I had to go with my biggest guilty pleasure. Judge me all you want, but I have a weird love for Rob Zombie. I say weird because he’s just not the type of thing I’m usually into. That being said, I genuinely enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses and it’s soundtrack. My favorite track is “Pussy Liqour,” mainly because the name is so clever. This album also features great tracks from Buck Owens and The Ramones. Furthermore, Rob Zombie never got enough credit for bringing Lionel Richie and Trina together for the first AND last time on a shitty cover of “Brickhouse.”

Corey Higdon (House By The Video Store)
I have two personal favorites, although I could easily give you ten. The first one is the soundtrack to Creepshow by John Harrison. Creepshow is easily one of my favorite movies of all time, so listening to the soundtrack has been something I’ve loved doing just as much as watching the movie.

Its basically what it would sound like if you could hear an old EC Comic book. Makes me feel like I'm sitting in an old dilapidated haunted house with lots...and lots of lightning.

The second one is the soundtrack to Zombi 2 (or Zombie in the U.S.) by Fabio Frizzi. This was during a very unique time for Italian Horror movies, and to this day there isn't a horror soundtrack that can match anything from that era (The Beyond, Cannibal Holocaust, Deep Red, etc.) Their sounds painted a picture that matched its movies to a "T.”

Phillip Olympia (Never Nervous)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch never got the recognition it deserved, and probably never will. Why? Because it has nothing to do with its genre-defining predecessor that introduced us to the greatest horror villain we’ve ever seen: Michael Myers. Yeah, that guy is awesome, and I understand that the whole chronological order of films is confusing, but a lot of people never gave Halloween III a chance, mainly because Michael Myers was absent from the film. That’s a fucking tragedy, because not only is Halloween III a fantastic horror flick, but it also boasts a truly terrifying soundtrack, composed by John Carpenter (just like the original Halloween). The noise heard in this movie is mostly derived from thick synthesizers, slow building, similar to what you’ve heard from other Carpenter compositions. Just like before, the atmospheric music works particularly well, as the symphonic noise never lets you relax. Absolutely chilling.  Just check out the opening credits for further evidence:

I also am a huge fan of John Harrison’s soundtrack behind George Romero’s Day of the Dead. While Goblin’s music from Dawn of the Dead is widely praised (as it should be), I feel that this piece of terrifying music isn’t noticed as much as it should be. It’s some of the most tense, pulsating horror noise I’ve ever heard. Yeah, it’s about as 80’s as it gets, but it still gets under my skin. Especially the introduction music heard behind the helicopter scene where they are looking for survivors of the zombie apocalypse, but only find thousands of walking corpses.

Wow, that shit still gets to me!

Sean Blevins (House By The Video Store)
The title track to Dario Argento’s Suspria (composed by Goblin) is THE horror track for me. Having completed the entire soundtrack for Suspiria before the film began shooting helps the track exist on it’s own, and when mixed into the film it creates a relentlessly nightmarish atmosphere. The prog rock band layered the track with ominous synth loops, whispering voices and an overall darkness that many horror soundtracks fail to achieve.

Few title tracks are as powerful as “Suspiria” but the fact that the music is mixed extremely loudly into the film makes it overwhelming at times, allowing the music to build tension and anxiety like no other piece I’ve heard. It’s rumored that Goblin was on painkillers while creating the soundtrack to ‘Suspiria’, whatever the case they were able to tap into something primordial that allows the music to fill your subconscious with terrifying imagery and a sense of place that doesn’t seem to exist in this world. Haunting.

Syd Bishop (Never Nervous)
The trick to any great score is setting the right tone. I'm not a fan of any score or soundtrack that automatically dates the movie, although the Goblin score to the original Dawn of the Dead is pretty fun. Still, I'm not really interested in "fun" in my horror movies, so for my money, the score is integral to a good horror movie.

The Shining makes for a great example. Imagine the same movie with contemporary music of the time, which I'm sad to report would be "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," by Billy Joel, or "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. It wouldn't be the same with the atmosphere provided by the Wendy Carlos score. Another movie that nailed it was the indie film Upstream Color. Like The Shining, the score to Upstream Color uses the score as a character in the movie, giving it an entirely new dimension.

Still, the two most effective soundtrack in any horror related entertainment is either the music in the original Silent Hill video game, or the score to the undeniably creepy Scarlet Johannson movie, Under the Skin. I would contest that the bulk majority of the Silent Hill score altered what would have otherwise been an exceptional Resident Evil clone into something far more psychologically terrifying, and one that certainly had an impact on my own music that lasts to this day. As for Under the Skin, the score is one of the most haunting and beguiling things I've heard in years, and one that won't leave you easily.

William Capps (House By The Video Store)
When I think of horror movie scores and their effect on the movies they’re in, I always come back to John Carpenter’s Halloween as my perfect example of what a horror movie score should be. It has an iconic theme song, a score that sets the tone and makes all the frightening scenes more effective. It even included music from the time it was released that didn’t date the movie, such as Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” [a classic]. The score heightens the scares throughout the movie and set up a template that imitators would copy for years.

It’s all the more impressive that John Carpenter, in addition to directing, was also credited with creating the score (even if he did bill himself as the “Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra”).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

LISTEN: Tamerlane Trio - "Be It Ever So Humble"

Tamerlane Trio performs at Frazier History Museum
Tamerlane Trio is a new traditional bluegrass collective that features Mick Sullivan (Fire The Saddle, Squeeze-Bot), Rob Collier (Fire The Saddle) and Amber Estes Thieneman (Sandpaper Dolls), and they are ready for you to hear their debut album Be It Ever So Humble.  It spans nine tracks and boasts original and modern interpretations of American traditional music.  It's damn good, too, as these folks ain't amateurs.  Check it out:

Also, Tamerlane Trio was recently featured on an episode of This Man Is Not Your Father, where the band plays a few songs and gets interviewed inside The Frazier History Museum. Watch it:

WATCH: Howell Dawdy - Scary (featuring Ultra Pulverize)

Howell Dawdy and guests/Laser Taggers/Mortal Kombat contestants Ultra Pulverize, are addressing an entirely new sort of horror this week, which at the moment is sensible. I mean, shit... it's Halloween on Friday, which I'm going to bet was not part of the agenda here with Mr. Dawdy. Like he probably hadn't put that together himself, that his video for "Scary" just so happens to drop the same week as everyone's favorite scary holiday. Unless you count Valentine's Day as scary. Some do.

That Alex Smith's comedy is so often rooted in some sort of real world issue is apparent here, this time a reflection of paranoia culture. I pride myself on my optimism, that the world is a place worth living in, and that the very idea that the world will end soon is an insane and moronic belief that every generation has held in perpetuity. So hearing some folks sarcastically rap-sing about that very fear and in the craziness inherent to the perpetrators of said paranoia, is satisfying. Also, you get to watch a bunch of shadowy dudes work out in a basement, inter-cut with all sorts of 80's VHS footage of guns and shit. Because that stuff is actually scary.

LISTEN: Anwar Sadat - Obedience

Are you ready for some Football! A Monday Night Par-Tay! Sing that in your head, but then imagine that Bocephus went that hard for Anwar Sadat and then you'll know how riled up we are to hear their newest single, "Obedience." Part of their upcoming EP, which is due out on December 2nd, this track is evidence that we're all going to have a very rowdy Christmas. Have you ever wanted to punch this shit out of a Christmas Tree? Well, put on this track and bring the goddamned thunder like that tree stole your lunch money in high school. Because it fucking did, and you know it.

Anyways, this track shows what to my ears sounds like a previous unheard restraint, with the band slowing it down -just a little mind you- and really digging into their groove. The pacing here is a bit less breakneck, although no less intense, calling to mind the best of The Jesus Lizard or Crain, visceral and muscular. So get stoked to go hard at Christmas and do it now. Boss Hog style. 
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