I spent this Halloween with Alice Cooper . . . and, man, was it a good time!
Alice put on a really fun & fantastic show at The Montgomery Performing Arts Center here in Montgomery, AL. Not too long ago, I saw Alice open up for Iron Maiden in Atlanta, and, at the time, I was really surprised by his band and how well they played all his older material (which is my absolute favorite of his work). This same band backed him up here in Montgomery the other night, and the show was even better than what I’d seen previously. While I think his best material is on his first 7 albums with that singular “Billion Dollar Babies” lineup, I must admit that the show I saw this Halloween was a complete blast. Absolutely zero nonsense, with song after song played very well, and Alice’s voice in fine form. MPAC is a great venue to see Alice perform in, too. Not a bad seat in the house, great sound and a really professional staff. Such a good time! If he rolls back through here again, I will definitely be back. After all, it’s ALICE COOPER! Someone who has weathered every musical era from the ’60s to present day . . . shifting and changing, but always doing that unique thing that only Alice Cooper can do. Truly oft-imitated and really only poorly-duplicated, when it comes right down to it.
For listening of late, I’ve really been getting into a couple of noise releases.
The first is from Montgomery’s own Japanese Women. Quality Control is the name. Vicious, seething noise rock is the game. I listen to this release over and over, and my blood is always boiling by its end. Good stuff and a wild, quick 13-minute listen. Throw all the amps in a hay-baler along with the singer and tie it all together with a drummer blasting along beside the bloddy machinery! Great!
Give yr ears a good wringing out, get yr brains bashed in and check out all their releases on their Bandcamp page. You can also get Japanese Women cassettes direct from their label, the excellent Tapes Of A Neon God. Tons of well-done noise releases there.
Alongside Quality Control, I’ve really been enjoying a new collection of songs from Nashville, TN’s Pornography. Anderson from Pornography runs the aforementioned Tapes Of A Neon God, and the 5 songs assembled on this CD from Speed Ritual Records were all previously released on Pornography’s Bandcamp page. Walls of guitars, pounding programmed drums, howling distorted vocals . . . all unleashed with complete venom over crawling, dirgelike frameworks. If you appreciate the ugliness on early Swans recordings, Pornography will be your new best friend.
Check out both these bands, if you’re into this kind of noise damage. I think you will be thrilled and pummeled.
Right before my set with Baghouse a couple of weekends ago, I accidentally plugged my guitar into the LOW input on my amp. What this meant was that, for the rest of the evening, I would be cursed with trying to sort out what was causing my sound to appear (to my ears) anemic–AND to play and adapt the best I could to the improvisation. In short, a brain fart. Classic. Undeniably stupid. Confounding, even . . . at the time. On one hand, I feel as if I NEVER do that sort of thing. On the other . . . I always seem to.
Luckily, everything else worked that night. I recently listened back to a recording of the evening and, despite feeling that my levels on loops fluctuated as I attempted to adjust in the chaos of the moment, it’s pretty excellent, nicely tense and has lots of fantastic playing & dynamics. Things were solid. Whew. Give it a go here, if you wanna get an earful of the proceedings at The World Famous in Athens, GA that evening.
It’s happening again this Saturday night at Head On The Door in Montgomery, AL. We’re going to do a couple of sets, making music, conjuring textures, tones and irregularities, seeing where the sound takes us. This is a call to all the weirdos and wanderers looking and listening for something freakishly pure. Music pulled from the air, shaped and reshaped, then shoved into your earholes. It feels like magic. Automatic writing. Baghouse. Come hear something being tapped into.
Wear a gasmask in case of brain farts.
I wanted to do a proper review of The Hard Gospel’s The Commandments Of Morality, but, since I had the honor of getting to go in to do some guest vocals on a couple of the tracks during their recording sessions, I felt a little funny about that. So I scrapped it.
I do have to tell you that this is one of my favorite recordings this year, though. Not just from local/regional bands either. A favorite. Period. When I was at the session, I only got to hear the tracks that I was working on. None of the others. When I downloaded the full-length, I was floored by what I heard.
It’s a fantastic recording, rich with ideas, cross-breeding genres and shoving them right through the wall with punky/metalized/rocking intensity . . . with a thematic arc that pulls everything together. Artwork by the amazing Neal Williams of Epic Problems is truly integrated with the music and is a finely-detailed cherry on top of something that is already well beyond sweet and satisfying.
Give it a listen on The Hard Gospel’s Bandcamp page. It’s pay what you want, and you can certainly pay zero to download it . . . but I would encourage you to directly support artists who care enough to work this hard on something that is of such high quality. It truly rocks, and is riddled with fine ideas and great playing and singing. I find myself listening to it over and over again, each time a little bit happier and well-rocked than the last.