As Rusty Redenbacher said in the first verse, “one monkey don’t stop no show”, which can be flipped around a bit by saying “if no one is stopping you, why are you holding your own self back?” Oh, I need a psychiatrist for that one, but perhaps the answers are right in front of me/you, or as close as your speakers or headphones. The doctor is in and he’s getting fonkay, and he’s doing things himself, right down to the video which was shot using an iPhone. The next level is the now level.
NOTE: Some of the imagery in this video, which includes shots of a nude woman, may not be for all audiences, so to be safe, this is NSFW. They’re not allowing websites to embed it, so click the image below which will take you to the video at Vimeo.com.
Flaming Lips have a new collaboration album coming out called The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends (Warner Bros.), where they are joined with a number of different artists, including Ke$ha, Lightning Bolt, and Yoko Ono, but what has gained a lot of attention in the last few days is a video for their collaboration with Erykah Badu, a cover of Robert Flack‘s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. The song is Badu entering the Flaming Lips’ adventurous musical world, as if her natural and organic self decided to explore their acid and mushroom tinged soundscapes. But there has been a controversy not for the song, but for the video that was directed by Lips frontman Wayne Coyne.
If you have seen the videos Coyne has done in the last 20 years, you’ll know that he can be trippy. In this case, it seems that Badu agreed to do the video with him with a few ideas and expressed between her and Coyne. However, an alleged “rough” version of the video was placed on Pitchfork and Badu was livid about what she saw. She had claimed that she did not approve of this version of the video, even though it was presented as a “raw cut”. Badu accused Coyne of being “self serving”. You can see the views of both Badu and Coyne in an article written at Okayplayer. For a few hours, the video was removed from YouTube and Vimeo, but before it was, it lead to a lot of people discussing it in forums and in social media. It has also lead to countless videos on YouTube where people recorded their first viewing of the video, treating it as if if it was the music video equivalent of 2 Girls, 1 Cup. I initially missed it because I felt I would eventually see the video by the weekend, and when it was removed, I questioned “was it really that bad?”
I knew that what considered controversial was a nude woman that people assumed was Badu herself. Rather, it was Badu’s sister, Nayrok. As for the imagery… well take a look first if you haven’t seen it and then come back here.
Then there’s shots of Nayrok being covered in a white liquid. One might go “oh, yet more objectification of a black woman being fetishized by a white man”. In other words, “a sexual object”. It can be seen that way if you want to see it that way, and with some of this white liquid shown dripping slowly, you could see it as softcore porn, a twisted bukkake shot. Or you could see it in a humorous way and look at the white liquid as sugar frosting, the ingredients for a glazed doughnut. Sounds weird? By the time it reaches this point in the video, coming up with the idea of this representing the doughnut is probably the least weird thing you can visualize. Or if you twist its possible meaning again, you can see the white liquid as something sexual, if not sensual. First kiss, first touch, first smell, first… orgasm? The first time ever I saw your face post coitus? Pre-creation? Post-creation? Procreation?
Is this video controversial because it’s meant to be oppressive? Is it meant to be offensive? Or is it truly noting more than expression through abstract imagery that can mean anything that you want to see in it, but can also mean absolutely nothing. The video is not violent in anyway, but red liquid often brings visions of blood, or at least in a violent society that we tend to think is heavily promoted by news items of the day, we immediately see negativity. It could be positive. Then again, it can mean absolutely nothing.
Perhaps this dispute between Badu and Coyne is complete hype and another means of promotion, nothing more than a way to promote a unique Roberta Flack cover, and the Flaming Lips forthcoming album. There are going to be people who will see this video and go “wow, how can a song so beautiful get treated with a video that is shameful?” But is it really shameful, or shameless? Or is it just images? Beauty is just as mind in the mind of the beholder as is ugliness.
Perhaps this is the end result of what Badu mentioned a few years ago, the idea of “groupthink”. There is indeed other perspectives if you wish to look at other directions or paths, but if you are stuck in believing that this is video has one meaning, you’re going to discard other interpretations? Of course, that’s up for debate too.
I had posted a note to Coyne and Badu on Twitter that I didn’t expect a reply to, but I had basically said that if Badu did indeed object to it, why not have her create her own video, her own interpretation of the song. I ended by saying the video could be called “conflict of vision, unity in sound”, as a way to say that she objected to this edit of the video and the way it was presented, and since this was a collaborative song, one would be able to see her vision of their song.
Nonetheless, you can see it and think for yourself.
Having been a fan of hard rock and heavy metal since I was a kid, it was only a matter of time before I heard music that was harder, faster, louder. Bands like Accept and Judas Priest were playing songs like “Fast As A Shark” and “Freewheel Burnin’”, but Led Zeppelin did their share of speedy moments in live versions of “Dazed And Confused”, but as the story goes, once the 1980′s came, it would eventually lead to the creation of sub-genres that would become powerful in their own rights. When it came to thrash and speed metal, you had your “core four” bands but every band lead to more, and regions lead to other regions and countries. That journey would lead to (West) Germany, and when it came to thrash/speed metal, Kreator were easily one of the monarchs of the “good stuff” in the mid-80′s, and I was definitely a fan. The band have gone through different changes but have never stopped writing, recording, and performing, and now they are here with their 13th album, Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast).
Their sound today is just as solid as it was in the 80′s and the darker vibe of the 90′s, and their lyrics still feel as raw and angry as they’ve ever been. Their lyrics are sure to piss off parents who refuse to understand the real meaning behind their songs, and that’s sad because anytime something is evil or disgusting, people want to remove blame on themselves and place it on a man with horns who lives underground. Kreator show that the evil world is something we live in on a daily basis, and as with much of their catalog, their lyrics basically gives a bit of courage, strength, and support to stay strong despite the odds people tend to feel in times of uncertainty. The twin guitar work of vocalist Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö has the feel of some of the best hard rock and heavy metal of the last 40 years, and it will make you scream “the whole human race shall die” with power, as they do in “Death To The World”.
The band get a bit progressive in the awesome “Your Heaven, My Hell” as they cover a few different textures as they create a song that, in a way, is a metal version of John Lennon‘s “Imagine”, supporting a vision of the world with no borders, no religions, no cultures, a true “one world, one people” mentality that they feel may only come after an apocalypse, which they say would be welcome if it means for the world to change their sinister ways. Hearing music like this is sure to make people question their own beliefs and surroundings, and that’s the point. Why is it that the only time humans have a sense of feeling oneness when we’re close to complete misery. When one hears Petrozza sing the words “my eyes are open wide” in terms of looking for a better world through a global collapse, you can’t help but agree with his use of common sense in the form of brutal metaphors.
Phantom Antichrist sounds as angry as the world looks in the news, but the lyrics are actually positive, their way of saying “above the pile of shit we have created for ourselves, there’s a sense of much better if we’re really serious about making out of it, together”. A band who once lived in a country once separated by a wall are supporting the collapse of ignorance and misconceptions around the world, in the hopes we’ll be able to experience it in our lifetime.
A new video directed by Whitey McConnaughy has been made for the band OFF!, and it’s for the song “Cracked”. If you love their self-titled debut album as much as I do, you will like this video. If you like the album and video, you’ll be able to see them live when they open for Refused with a handful of shows in mid-July.
July 15… Atlanta, GA (Masquerade Music Park)
July 16… Silver Spring, MD (The Fillmore)
July 18… Brooklyn, NY (Williamsburg Summer Garden)
July 19… Philadelphia, PA (Penn’s Landing (Riot Fest))
July 20… Boston, MA (House of Blues)
July 21… Montreal, Quebec (Metropolis)
July 22… Toronto, Ontario (The Sound Academy)
July 23… Toronto, Ontario (The Sound Academy)
July 25… Royal Oak, MI (Royal Oak Music Theater)
July 26… Chicago, IL (Congress Theatre)
Now rock, gunfunnit.
It came as a shock but a welcome surprise when I saw that Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes had a new album out with a band under his own name, and one that might make some go “wow, so by calling themselves Chris Robinson Brotherhood, is he saying that the sense of brotherhood he has with his new band is a lot better than the band that had his own brother?” I don’t know, but I will say that as someone who has been a fan of Robinson’s voice since the first album, it’s great to hear him in a different context, even if that context is only in name. It’s my way of saying if you ever loved the work of the Black Crowes over the years, you will love his new venture on their debut album, Big Moon Ritual (Silver Arrow).
What I love about this album is that, if you ever preferred the Black Crowes in a live setting over the limitations of what they did in the studio, you will find this album to be incredible. Robinson is very much the stoner bluesman who loves live, love, music, and good times, and even those who celebrate the good times suffer with the blues. This has always been one of the reason I’ve enjoued hearing him, because with the voice he has comes lyrics which comes from experience or at least a curiosity about what the next man things. It’s very much a “brother man” mentality, and he does this with a band who truly love what they do. The opening track, “Tulsa Yesterday”, even gets into a nice jam that feels like it could go on for 15 to 20 minutes in a Grateful Dead fashion (and considering they’ve done many shows with Bob Weir, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has. I’ll have to check and see if any live shows are circulating.) It’s bluesy, they’re not afraid to incorporate some country, and what surprised me is that out of nowhere, here comes a Minimoog solo (or what sounds like a Minimood). It reminded me of 1975 era Pink Floyd, specifically the solo Richard Wright did at the end of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Part IX”, and it wouldn’t surprise me if keyboardist Adam MacDougall (or Robinson) had that vibe in mind.
Robinson has never been afraid to wear his freak flag high, and as high as he may be in a social setting, his music and lyrics have always been down to Earth, and Big Moon Ritual is an earthy album for those who love music with emotional impact, one that allows us to say “yes, we’re human, we deal with shit, but there’s also a good world out there. We have to live it and find it for ourselves.” He could easily get trippy and sing something like “I’m interplanetary, I’m going to reach for the universe and milk the way out of the constellations” but the album is called Big Moon Ritual. Life is about celebrating under the big moon, and our ritual is simply finding something we want to do on a routine. Joy in repetition, as Prince once said, and this ritual is mmm mmm good.
Normally, I’d get one every few weeks, but in less than a day I have posted four new installments of Covered. Big Brother & The Holding Company was the band that featured Janis Joplin as their vocalist, and when they released their second album (the last to feature Joplin), the album cover captured as much attention as the music itself. Cheap Trills featured cover art from Robert Crumb, whose love of 78rpm records made him create this “antique” looking design for a record that was originally going to be called Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills. Columbia Records had said no, although today it probably would not be an issue.
House Boat are a pop/punk band from New York who are about to release an EP called 21st Century Breakdown, and their cover is definitely homage to Cheap Thrills. It may not be the first time a band has honored the now-famous Crumb illustration, but it’s great to see it honored 45 years later.