Thursday, February 23, 2017

Video Of The Week: Rage Against The Machine

It may have been too long since I last featured Rage Against The Machine, so I thought I could show them from yet another single from their 1999 masterpiece The Battle Of Los Angeles, this time with Guerilla Radio, directed by Honey (the husband-and-wife directing duo of Laura Kelly and Nicholas Brooks:

It's a parody of the early-to-mid 1990s Gap ads directed by Pedro Romhanyi where people would dance around in the brand's clothing in a white backdrop while the "hip" music of the day (among which punk band Rancid) ran in the background. Instead, RATM use the video to criticize the garment industry.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tales Of Minor-League Hockey Quaintness

The ECHL is North America's Tier 3 echelon of pro hockey, after the NHL and its development league, the AHL. Minor-league pro hockey is often seen as quaint and folkloric, with a hint of tackiness and a long list of failures to exude professionalism.

It's, essentially, the small-town charm of Big Dreams mixed with the reality of very low budgets.

That being said, there is no excuse for botching a jersey number retirement ceremony the way the Fort Wayne Komets did for Colin Chaulk, by acknowledging the banner was put upside down, yet still going away with raising it to the rafters:
Hopefully, everyone has learned from this experience and will have incorporated having a checklist when they are tasked with doing something important... in their next job. Most people involved should not put this event on their resumes...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Video Of The Week: Dead Messenger

There's this erroneous idea that tense, rigid and far-right-leaning political times makes for better arts in general - and music and film in particular. People point to the presidencies of Richard Nixon (1969-1974) and Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) as proof of this, and I want to make a counter-point.

It's harder for the Nixon years because the utter crap that existed back then didn't make it all the way until my time, but I vividly recall the 1980s, and such bands as Squeeze, Hall & Oates, Flock Of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, and so forth - thousands of acts that saw Miami Vice as a way of life.

For every U2 there were dozens of Duran Duran; for every R.E.M., there were a hundred boy bands like Color Me Badd; for every Guns N' Roses, there were thousands of Poison, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Great White and W.A.S.P.-like shitty hair metal bands. And Bon Jovi existed pre- and post-New Jersey, which seems more and more like an accident every time they release anything, including Greatest Hits packages.

Which is to say that, yeah, Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy are great vessels of thoughts of equality. But Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen would exist under any administration. And sure, some already-recognized acts are spurting out some nice art in opposition to what is happening right now in the U.S., but that art would likely have been great even without the added political message.

Take Dead Messenger, for instance. I've been telling the whole world that they're Montréal's best live band for years (nearly a decade, actually), and they likely still are even though the competition is stiffening. Their new single absolutely rocks, and it's the best, most condensed riff they've put out in perhaps five years, but they likely still would have come up with it without the election of Donald Trump and, let's face it, the U.S. has done enough damage internationally that the track may still very well have been called Hyper USA with a similar video directed by lead singer Roger White, shock-full of news footage of rights being trampled, flags and stock footage of go-go dancing, and 1950s fun times:

My point being that chaos does not just breed talent. Talent exists, and sometimes chaos focuses it for a bit, but it always surfaces by itself. Keep in mind all three of RATM's albums came out during the Bill Clinton era, as did Radiohead's OK Computer - a British piece, sure, but one nonetheless marked by a general feeling of unease, with a song called Electioneering smack-dab in the middle of it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Video Of The Week: The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins' 1998 release, Adore, was the band's ode to dark New Wave music, where electronic beats (and Joey Waronker) took over for departed drummer Jimmy Chamberlin; it was also the last to feature any member of the classic line-up save for leader Billy Corgan, as guitarist James Iha left for A Perfect Circle and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky had just had enough (of everything, Corgan in particular).

A lot of people loved the song Perfect - I didn't, feeling that it was an easier-to-listen-to rehash of 1979 - and almost no one understood the The Cure reference of 17; Ava Adore, however, was liked by almost all fans, in the same vein as Eye from the Lost Highway soundtrack, but more radio-friendly and with its own themes and structure. Its video, directed by Dom & Nic (a.k.a. Nic Goffey and Dominic Hawley), was heavy on the "heroin chic" visual theme, one the Pumpkins had been flirting with since 1995 (Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Zero) but hadn't fully embraced yet:

With Adore considered a flop, Corgan followed it with the extremely hard rocking two-part release Machina: The Machines Of God and Machina II: The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music, thought at the time to be the band's curtain call.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Video Of The Week: Paul Cargnello

Sometimes it pays to keep an eye on an artist for a while. I wrote a semi-mean/brutally honest post on Paul Cargnello a year and a half ago and with the political unrest that culminated in Donald Trump's election and inauguration, he may have written his best song yet:

The video was directed by Blue Hour Endeavours, who are mostly known for their parodies and twisting of celebrities' words using real audio. They're also behind the video for Cargnello's rehash and revisiting of the Rock Et Belles Oreilles classic Bonjour La Police, taking a satirical track and rendering it menacingly real with the help of Charlie Foxtrot and Webster.