Friday, April 17, 2015

Green Day hits US Stage for first time since 2013 - performs with Tim Armstrong, John Kiffmeyer



You wouldn’t have known it if you weren’t among the one-thousand or so people present, but last night in downtown Cleveland the stars aligned and for about five minutes everything was right with the universe. 

In preparation/celebration of their impending Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Green Day settled into Cleveland’s House of Blues for a rare small-club gig.  Reuniting with original drummer John Kiffmeyer and performing under their original name Sweet Children, the band barreled through an incendiary “warm-up” set of their long-lost gems such as Dry Ice, At the Library, and Private Ale- tunes that haven’t been performed live in about two decades.  



At some point during the ensuing three-hour show, Billie Joe and company were joined by another surprising guest- none other than Tim Armstrong.  Tim or course was the frontman of Operation Ivy (and later Rancid), legends of the very same Bay-Area Gilman Street punk scene that provided Green Day’s original upbringing.  Despite having since been disowned by the Gilman Street community due to their commercial success, Green Day has consistently incorporated a cover the Op Ivy classic Knowledge into their setlists as a tribute to their early idols.  In a cathartic instance of things coming full circle, Tim burst onto the House of Blues stage- Gretsch semi-hollow slung down to his ankles as always- and together with Billie Joe launched into a scathing rendition of Knowledge, followed by the early Rancid song Radio (which the two had wrote together twenty-one years ago).  




This unexpected collaboration represents far more than just two living legends joining forces.  Although Green Day is still unwelcome in their old warehouse home at 924 Gilman St for being on a major record label, This display of awesomeness with a local king is another important stop on their long road to reconciliation with their own roots.


UPDATE:  Interestingly enough, some of the oldest readily available live footage of Green Day/Sweet Children is a concert performed at their Pinole Valley High School in 1990.  The show features very entertaining teenage versions of Billie and Mike playing many of the old songs that they resurrected last night.  For comparison sake, here is At the Library from that show:




UPDATE:  As of March 17th 2015, the inevitable finally came to fruition as 924 Gilman lifted it's fan on Green Day after 21 years.  The band performed a surprise concert at the venue (again joined by Tim Armstrong) to benefit DIY publisher AK Press, who recently lost their warehouse in a fire.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Throwback Track of the Week: New Found Glory - Understatement



Ahh the early 2000s, when “pop-punk” was still cool, and had yet to become the temporary Hot Topic marketing institution that it seems doomed to be remembered as.  Or maybe we were just the perfect age for it; choosing to remember it through a nostalgic lens?  Whatever the case, those post-Dookie, pre-sellout “punk” albums of the late 90s and very early 00s will forever hold a special place in the hearts of us pre-9/11 tweens.  

Sticks and Stones was a perfect album for its time, hitting right at the pop-punk peak while simultaneously hinting just enough at the oncoming heavy breakdowns and obnoxiously angsty lyrics of an over-commercialized subgenre.  This album, and it’s lead song in particular, represent that very nexus.  It’s on this track that the kenetic musical energy meets the contrived whiny-voiced angst; but because the songcraft is so authentic, the momentum so perpetual, it all just seems to work.  


It’s still impossible to determine whether this was the pinnacle of pop-punk, or the beginning of its end.  Perhaps it’s simply meant to exist in that subliminal crossroads, for better or worse.  


Friday, April 3, 2015

Throwback Track of the Week: The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner (1972)



The Modern Lovers are not a band that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the influential rock groups of the past.  Instead, history has confined them to a long list of proto-punk bands that despite not showing up on any VH1 specials, had a massive impact on modern music as we know it.  Born out of early 1970s Boston, The Modern Lovers owed a lot of their sound to NYC legends The Velvet Underground.  Taking the generally grimy and dark tone of the Velvets; the Lovers did something very special- they made it FUN.  




Nowhere is this on better display than their early 70s standout Roadrunner.  The Velvet-esque edginess is all here, via the organ drones, pounding noise, and overall detached cool.  Unlike their forefathers however, the pace is quick, the lyrics are positive and irreverent, and the song just has a way of embracing life in all of its recklessness and absurdity.  This culmination results in a song that aggressively foreshadowed the upcoming punk rock movement, and remains fresh and exciting to this day.  Rather than wallowing in hipster smugness, this thing groves and moves like rock and roll truly should.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Track of the Week: Steve Miller Band - The Joker



You know this song.  Even if you’d prefer not to admit it, you LOVE this song.  The Joker has held up for decades as a staple of classic rock radio as well as a counterculture anthem thanks to its not-so-subtle drug references, slinky bassline, slackerish lyrics, and hazy slide guitar solo.  Hell, how many songs could lay claim to the very invention of a word!? (Pompatus of love…your guess is as good as mine)


Steve Miller (who is originally from Milwaukee and attended UW-Madison) started his “Steve Miller Blues Band” upon moving to San Francisco in the late-60s.  Musically he was influenced by several very different genres; from doo-wop to old school blues to British Invasion- but had a knack for combining all of them through his own personal style instead of subscribing to any one in particular.  Add in his laid back and fun-loving approach to songwriting and it isn’t hard to see the Steve Miller Band fitting right in with today’s recklessly genuine garage rock scene.  


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

King Tuff Premiers Raucous New Video for "Madness"



In anticipation of their upcoming US/Canada tour, King Tuff has released a brand new video for "Madness"- one of many standout tracks from last years glammed-out album Black Moon Spell.  The video admirably encompasses everything that King Tuff is about- which is to say it involves gleefully trashy rock n' roll, riotous live footage, batshit crazy fans, cheap beer flowing indiscriminately, and plenty of far-out camera angles and cartoonish visual effects.  Oh, and gorillas.  Lots of gorillas.




King Tuff will be taking their incomparably fun brand of garage/glam rock on the road throughout the US (plus Toronto) from late-March to mid-June.  Tour dates include back-to-back SOLD OUT shows at Chicago's Vic Theatre and First Ave in Minneapolis on April 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The World is Gonna Roll Me: A Review of Neil Cicierega's Mouth Sounds





It has been a while - far too long - since I’ve made a post on here, much less an album review.  To put things simply, I got myself caught in some kind of musical funk and hadn’t found anything that truly grabbed me with inspiration.  That is, until I stumbled upon this somewhat viral video of a bizarre karaoke performance:




Intrigued, I looked up this guy Neil Cicierega to listen to the original mashup.  Now, I was in a state of mind at the time that lends itself well to this type of thing…and my mind, frankly, was blown.  I immediately began playing his mashup album Mouth Sounds from the beginning, and for all intents and purposes spent the next hour or two mentally stumbling through the 90s on acid.  Even after I emerged, I proceeded to spend the ensuing weeks with Neil C’s music on repeat.  I was unable to find (or even fathom) anything to listen to that is as creative and continuously satisfying.


There are plenty of mashup artists that have been around longer and have achieved a much higher profile than Neil Cicierega.  While acts like Girl Talk and The Hood Internet are great at what they do, Neil takes a different approach.  A comedian and video artist by trade, with original music under the name Lemon Demon, he blends together not only different songs, but radio broadcasts, news snippets, samples from tv shows and jingles, and whatever else he can get his hands on into a surreal collage of pop culture.  In order to make everything fit into place, many of the samples themselves are and manipulated, oftentimes with jarring effect. 


If this isn't the face of a madman, I don't know what is


Mouth Sounds begins with the first words of Smash Mouth’s All Star manipulated into a number of MIDI samples and presented as an entirely new melody.  As the album unfolds like a fever dream, All Star, and Smash Mouth in general, become recurring motifs.  Cicierega manages to blend All Star with Modest Mouse’s hit Float On without any noticeable alterations to either song through both of their entireties, and later he blasphemously does the same with John Lennon’s Imagine- as heard in the near-viral karaoke video. 


Alongside the more straightforward mashups are several entirely new songs made up of handfuls of existing ones.  The surrealism comes in when C incorporates samples from movies and TV shows.  Through most of D'oh there are three or four different songs playing simultaneously- in addition to the voices of Homer Simpson, Austin Powers, and the theme song from the 90s cartoon Doug.  As we trudge arm in arm with Steve Harwell though the twisted pile of nostalgic sludge we are joined by the likes of Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, Rob Thomas, and the Men in Black; among others- all in rapid-fire succession.  Meanwhile there are extended noisy interludes scattered throughout, one of which flowing into a dramatic rendition of the original viral joke Chocolate Rain (crossed with the “Tears in the Rain” speech from the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner).  At one point Mouth Sounds drops everything to play a sequence of seven or eight intro jingles from film production companies (Nickelodeon, 20th Century Fox, etc), for no apparent reason other than to further twist and skew our expectations of familiar sounds.  



All throughout the madness the album’s tracks refer back to each other, such as when the Full House theme song bursts in on You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette, a wink to the failed real-life relationship between Alanis and Dave Coulier (aka Uncle Joey) which inspired the song.  It’s this type of self-referential humor that gives the album a sense of cohesion and momentum beyond just being a bunch of bizarre concoctions.  


That said, abrasiveness is not something that Cicierega shies away from on Mouth Sounds.  Although in the end it is held up on the strength of it's execution and surprising catchiness, this is an album that gleefully offends and oftentimes revels in its own tastelessness.  You don't cross the undeniable artistic expression of Imagine with the comparatively vapid All Star without having a certain rogue sense of humor.   The genius lies in the way Cicierega finds to simply make it all work.  His fearless deconstruction of such classic works results in an entirely new creation- and dare I say an entirely new artistic statement?  


Take a listen below, or download the album for free via Neil's Website





Mouth Sounds Tracklist

01.  Promenade (Satellite Pictures at an Exhibition)
02.  Modest Mouth
03.  D'oh
04.  Vivid Memories Turn to Fantasies
05.  Bills Like Jean Spirit
06.  Full Mouth
07.  Alanis
08.  Imagine All Star People
09.  Imma Let it Be
10.  Daft Mouth
11.  Like Tears in Chocolate Rain
12.  No Credit Card
13.  Bega Interlude
14.  Melt Everyone
15.  The Sharpest Tool
16.  Mullet with Butterfly Wings
17.  Smooth Flow 




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Matt's Favorite Horror Flicks; Part I




In a peculiar kind of way, the horror genre is sort of like the punk-rock of the movie world.  It began vaguely, on the outside edge of the medium, before crystalizing itself in the late 1970s.  Since then it has become an ever-growing umbrella genre, with a seemingly infinite amount of available methods of execution and niches to satisfy (or exploit).  It is a genre where anything goes.  There are no rules, and sometimes the more recklessly made, potentially offensive, and against-the-grain; the better a resulting product is.  There is an inherent aura of danger involved, and that is what makes them so damn much fun to experience.  

On that note, I decided to make this year's "Noisepaper Halloween Special" a series on my favorite films of the horror genre.  Not a particularly original concept, I know; but every movie included will be one that I hold strong feelings about that I have been dying (horror-themed pun unintended) to put into writing one way or another.  

This first installment features a trio of relatively old gems that seem to be lesser known among todays audience.  They have all aged incredibly well however, perhaps even reaching "timeless" status.  While not usually mentioned among the classics, as far as I'm concerned they are important landmarks in horror cinema.    



Re-Animator



Re-Animator is a film based on an H.P. Lovecraft story originally written as a parody of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  If that doesn't set the stage for this gruesomely entertaining thrill-ride, the satirical take on Psycho's theme music that plays over the opening credits will. 



As noted by Robert Ebert, the film seems to thrive on the balance between director Stuart Gordon's desire to make a good film, and his simultaneous acknowledgement that a film about a mad scientist bringing back the dead is unlikely to be considered "good".  As the film builds momentum off of this tension, it finds its stylistic groove in comic book-esque, out-of-control sci-fi weirdness.  I like to describe this movie as either the scariest funny movie ever made, or the funniest scary movie ever made.  Although it maintains its horror spirt throughout- propelled by perpetually building intensity and gore, the whole story is shaded with a psychotically morbid, pitch-black sense of humor.  





Jacob's Ladder



I'm a sucker for movies dealing with dreams and delusions; where the story and images are presented through an unreliable lens in such a way that anything can happen and the viewer is left questioning whether anything is "real" or just imagined.  I have found very few films that succeed in creating such a palpable atmosphere of unease the way that Jacob's Ladder does.  



Jacob's Ladder places its protagonist (and in turn its audience) in a world shrouded in perpetual fog, where normal characters act vaguely "off" and fleeting glimpses of demonic creatures are made.  The plot navigates a disorienting network of flashbacks as our hero tries to make sense of it all, before all hell (quite literally) inevitably breaks loose.  For much of its runtime we are kept right at the brink of sanity, just as overcome by the unpredictable mystery as our main character is.  There are a few well-placed jump scares thrown in to keep the momentum, but the real terror lies in the constant feeling that something unspeakably scary is just about to happen.  When it finally does boil over with the infamous "hospital scene", the result is one of the most undeniably brilliant sequences in all of horror, and some of the most indelible nightmare fuel to be be found anywhere.  




 Suspiria



In the post-fascist Italy of the late 1970s, a subgenre of horror emerged that has come to be known as Giallo-Horror.  Such films traditionally focus on an outsider protagonist becoming witness to some type of gruesome crime, and as a result finding themselves involved in a story of delusion, diabolical authority figures, Hitchcockian suspense, and violent bloodletting.  Among the most highly regarded of such films is Dario Argento's 1977 classic Suspiria.



Much like Jacob's LadderSuspiria creates a surreal atmospheric setting; in this case experienced from the perspective of a young American ballerina attending a mysterious dance academy in Germany.  Unlike Jacob's Ladder, Suspiria relies not on shadows and glimpses of disturbing imagery, but bright, gory, in-your-face terror.  The death scenes play out like works of art, the disembowelment of the ballet students choreographed like a ballet itself, with the surrealistically vibrant blood serving as the main set piece.  Despite a lacking storyline, the film maintains tension not only via graphic kills, but the bizarre intricacies of the setting itself, and the disorienting camera angles in which it is seen.  Add in the terrifying soundtrack by Italian progressive rock band Goblin, and this film is a work of art unlike any other. 



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