Friday, January 28, 2005

Wanted: Sign of the Apocalypse, musical variety

The music world is currently faced with a void: no musician to serve as evidence that our society is headed directly to hell in a hand basket. After several years in that position, Eminem's shock value has worn off. Limp Bizkit were already washed up by the time Fred Durst threw a hissy fit in Chicago in 2003. Four years ago, The Onion was already joking "Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People." There's a limited shelf life for shock value, especially, in Manson's case, when your entire raison d'être is marketing yourself as a musician to piss off and horrify teenagers' parents. But we always need to have one, and no one new has emerged now that Eminem is a routine part of our cultural landscape, despite Janet Jackson's best efforts a year ago.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pop is the comedy of music. Because it's accessible, it is undervalued by "serious" fans. "Oh, you have to listen to this at least ten times before you really get it," is the kind of praise offered to esoteric rock albums, as if there's a something wrong with music that is instantly enjoyable. Sonic Youth are lauded for becoming intentionally more obscure.

Instead, let's give props to Junior Senior, the duo whose D-D-Don't Stop the Beat is astonishingly fun from the get-go. I love Daydream Nation as much as the next music snob, but I doubt Thurston, Kim, et al. could come up with anything as catchy as half the tracks on that CD, especially these days.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Concert Review:  Die Warzau and DJ? Acucrack, Metro, January 7

Holey and Stinky are back. Die Warzau duo Van Christie and Jim Marcus aren't widely known by that appellation, but that's what my editors and I dubbed them after smelling the former when he was setting up for their opening slot for Nine Inch Nails and learning about the latter's fondness for body piercing from their publicist. Big Electric Metal Bass Face was a tasty slice of industrial funk and "Strike to the Body" sounded like a Nitzer Ebb track, which isn't a bad thing. 1995's Engine was well-regarded, but I never heard about it at the time, perhaps because I had not yet moved to their home of Chicago.

So Die Warzau's first activity in a decade was worth investigating. Based on the facts and slogans projected on the screen before they started and on Marcus's exhortations for equal rights for gays and lesbians, their reunion may have been inspired more by recent political activities than by artistry. There are worse reasons to resurrect a band, like money, and the Metro was only moderately full, so we can rule out the cash incentive.

Their performance was likewise moderately successful: not outright bad, but nothing really clicked. Maybe it was the lack of a strong funk groove that drove me to see them several times in '91. Frontman Marcus is quite passionate in his political beliefs. He might be better served seeking another communications medium for his activism.

DJ? Acucrack: Thrashing at my PowerBook. The pair made a lot of sound, but none of it was a distinctive. They had some other equipment, but the most notable thing was that they really enjoyed cranking at their computers.