An Introduction to Man Man.

Man Man is an incredible band, hatched from the mind of Honus Honus, right around the time we all expected the world to end in fire and computer failure, the year of our lord 2000. They are a glorious mixture of chaotic sound experiments mixed with incredibly insightful and provocative lyrics.

According to their Facebook page, all was a chaos, unimaginably limitless and without shape or form. Eon followed eon, particle became mass: then, lo! out of this boundless, shapeless mass something light and transparent rose up and formed the heavens. And from the heavens fell five shapes, loud and heavy and jumbled, and from these rough forms were shaped and sculpted the first firsts: Honus Honus (the High-August-First-Voice), Sergei Sogay (the Divine-Center-of-Four-Strings), Pow Pow (the August-Beat-Divinity), Critter Crat (the Divine-Twang-and-Everything-Else) and Chang Wang (the Other-Twang-and-Wondrous-Everything-Else).

Their live shows seem to be loose free-form jams, including the audience as much as possible to create a unique experience each night. They like to warm up by walking up and down the streets of whatever town they have landed in, performing live, using the world around them as percussion instruments.


There is so much lovely commotion to be made, Man Man famously does not break between songs during their live shows, but rather moves, revolving-door fashion, from one song to another, commandeering and discarding any of number of the instruments lying at their feet as the mood strikes and the music dictates.

Comparisons to the usual avant-garde forefathers – Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits – persist, but Man Man are decidedly not identity thieving or even overtly referencing these spiritual godfathers in their music, but rather are acting as torchbearers of the unusual, the spontaneous and the plainly fucking funny in an increasingly homogenized world. “I’m just making the songs I know how to write,” says Honus. “The one thing I want to clarify is that this is an organic project — who we are, the kind of lives we lived before we met each other, and the lives we have together. [That’s] what makes this band and this music what it is. I would say being broke is one of my biggest influences. That and being in and out of relationships. Those are bigger influences than listening to a Beefheart record.”

They claim their major influences to be Baseball, Basketball, and Beyonce.

It would truly be a mistake to write off Man Man as simply “experimental,” “psychedelic” or even “jokesy,” for they are some, but mostly none, of that. Their music is clearly rooted in rock, blues and pop, and they can really play all those instruments.

Their honest influences include, but are not limited to:

Lord of the Flies. Boar Hunting Expeditions. Aztec Pajama Rituals. Kilgore Trout. Real Genius. Phillies. Sun Ra. Mind Stickers. Vietnamese Hoagies. Purple Bottomous. Yeti Mating Rituals. Tragedy. Allen Iverson. Holy Mountain. Nina Simone. Dock Ellis. Piston Honda. Avocado Bros. Mr. Jarry. Mr. Hojjy. WHISKEY TROUBLE. Watermelon Sugar. Girls Girls Girls. Darth Mii. Doctor Bogs. Bobby McFerrin. Kung Fu. Log Flumes. Soda Popinski. Turkeymoth. Sex. Mistakes. Broken Hearts. Green Mango Mayhem.

Their music speaks for itself, in such fantastic songs as “Pirhanas Club”,

“The Ballad of Butterbeans”,

“Spider Cider”,

and so many more.
“Engwish Bwudd” is a stand-out song, if only for the grinning gimmick of the Jack and the Beanstalk refrain.

“Poor Jackie” starts off innocuously enough, but transforms into a dirge of pure desperation that would probably make Frank Zappa do cartwheels in his grave.

“Rabbit Habits” is about as honest a song as has ever been written, with a great video included.

“Whalebones” is a song of such startling depth and raw emotional power that I can hardly stand to listen to it without losing some much-needed eyeball moisture.

The new album “Life Fantasic” is out now on ANTI records.
Well worth a purchase or legal download.

Check it out, students, and don’t forget to check back here often for more cool music suggestions.
Thank me laters.
Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


Rob Zombie can direct a decent horror remake. There, I said it.

By Merkin Muffley—HorrorHomework Instructor

 

We’ve all heard it before:

“How many horrible fucking remakes is Hollywood going to fucking make?”

And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably even said something like that before. I hate Hollywood remakes, and I think filmmakers should abandon the practice.

In fact, there are MANY regurgitated stories that Hollywood has vomited up and onto the big screen that very few of us are able to stomach. It’s HIGHLY frustrating. Why fix something that was never broke? Why pervert a film classic for the new generation? Are there really no new ideas coming from the writers in Hollywoodland?

But, I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where credit is due. There are SOME remakes which I believe were wrought with a considerable degree of skill and competence.

The Carpenter constructed Zombie

For the sake of brevity, I am going to argue that the first remake of Halloween is one such example.

Am I saying that the new version compares to its predecessor? No. I am simply saying that it is a decent film, which relates the original story adequately, and it happens to be a remake.

Many diehard horror fanatics (like me) will even assert that the original 1978 production of Halloween was a classic, while dismissing the 2007 version as a sophomoric attempt to retell the story in a more testosterone-driven and profitable way.

Sure, it was directed by Rob Zombie. Not John Carpenter. But it was with the go ahead from John Carpenter on the advisement that he make it “his film”.

However I must submit to the class that in the scope of recent Hollywood remakes, Zombie’s take on the story of Michael Myers is a cut above the rest when considering content, direction and editing.

Let me put it to you this way:

Would you rather the new generation of movie goers be subjected to subpar remakes like 2009’s The Stepfather, which had so many holes in continuity or logic that you could play Wack-A-Mole out of them? That movie fucking sucked, and now most youngsters who think of that story won’t know of the grim original from 1987, which starred Lost’s Terry O’Quinn.

Zombie’s version of the film obviously deviates from the original in many ways, but it could have gotten MUCH worse direction.

There is no mystery. The characters are by no means allergic to vulgarity. More emphasis is placed on Myers’ childhood and his obviously dysfunctional family. There is less of an element of ‘evil’ and more of an element of ‘psychological disorder’, and it’s just simply not what most of us grew up watching.

Let’s get one thing on the table.

All of the characters are, quite simply, unlikeable. They are made out to be monsters. Everyone from Myers’ principal, his sister, school mates and even Dr. Loomis. To help get that ball rolling, Zombie has pretty much all of them spitting out profanity while exhibiting some sort of immoral behavior.

Anybody can do that! Woopty fucking doo.. doo.

Doo doo. Haha, anyways.

I can’t stress enough that Zombie makes the audience question ‘how the world can create such monsters?’ rather than, ‘who in the world could be one?’.

Zombie is using the remake to ask a similar question posed by the original: Who among us could be wearing a mask to hide from a brutal world, and was it the world that drove them to that point?

I think that Carpenter revealed the grim origins of Myers in a more profound way. He didn’t spell out a troubled and sadistic past the way Zombie did, and any violence in the remake by no means comes as a surprise to the audience because of this.

But it wasn’t Zombie’s intention to do so, nor was it his intention to replicate the tone or pace of the movie. Zombie is telling the story of a broken child at odds with a broken world, where sanctuary is found only behind a mask.

If you would class, please refer to any moment in the film where a character ISN’T hiding their true nature. Notice how Michael, a person who attempts to conceal his true self, reacts to the rest of the frankly vile world.

He pretty much kills or maims them in true Myers fashion.

Through this viewpoint, one might consider the moral service Myers seems to be doing the audience. The towering shots of Myers even as an adolescent suggest a coup de gras for his victims later on in the film. What irony might you find in that as a viewer?

As early as ten minutes into the film, we can watch Myers bludgeon an easily unlikeable bully with a tree limb after school. After begging for mercy, our antagonist puts his mask back on and finishes his attack. The bully, who just minutes before was dishonoring his sister, is then dispatched viciously.

The product of Zombie’s storytelling is no different from Carpenter’s in this sense. Every kill is not without extreme prejudice.

But Zombie retains some of the indiscriminate evil that Myers has always been known for. Through betrayal.

As Ismael Cruz (played by Danny Trejo), the loveable janitor who gives Myers wise advice about life behind bars, is later killed by an older and hulking Myers. By going against his early depiction of Myers, Zombie paints a picture of a more traditional Michael Myers.

It should be noted class, that when Cruz tells Myers that “learning to live inside” his head would keep him sane, the very Manson-esque rationale was then readily accepted by the mask wearing youth. This can be seen by the subsequent obsession with masks, which I found quite original.

The viewpoint of the film tends to get pretty personal. While we are watching a story about a giant peoplestabber, Zombie also has us peering in over the shoulder of many a character in the middle of every conversation.

When actors are in field, the viewpoint tends to be at a low, down to earth level with the characters. Often a character is directly in the middle of a shot. An up close and personal kind of thing. Again, this is a more human approach to Michael Myers, which helps drive the kinds of questions Zombie poses about our culture.

What is seen and heard in the film:

Zombie’s use of rapid editing during action sequences, albeit a mainstay in modern cinema, was used with tact in many areas of the film. These are coupled with free-roaming or “shaky” cinematography to give the film a human feeling, while side scrolling shots push along exposition.

In short, it’s a simple formula and it works for Zombie’s intent.

Another intent of his is to show off his hot wife, Sherri Moon Zombie.

We are all very aware of Zombie’s propensity to put her in his films, and while that may be very easy to dump on, I would like to note the nice strip tease performed by her in the film. This kind of sexual content, albeit more jacked up, was present in the original Halloween. And such would be evident to any ten year old boy in the seventies.

It’s also eye candy, which I won’t dispute is something most filmmakers are going for nowadays.

We can often hear dialogue among characters which are out of the shot, while abstract objects float around in the foreground. This is often used as a device to inhibit the measure of a character. And we certainly don’t get a good look at Myers when he is being verbally abused by his mom’s boyfriend. The imposing voice of Ronnie White (played by William Forsythe) referring to Myers as a ‘faggot’ seems larger than Myers himself, along with the blurry jack-0-lantern.

What is our antagonist thinking?

Is there anyone among the class who would say Zombie didn’t get it right when Myers gets his revenge by slitting White’s throat? The inverted shots, high pitched tones and suddenness wasn’t without favor for the audience? It encapsulated the spirit of a slasher in scenes such as this, and without replicating Carpenter, who executed similarly, yet with less for the viewer to go on.

Again, it is easy to slam remakes for their incongruity to the originals. And while I can get drunk on nostalgia as much as the next horror fan, I also can see the more polished turds from the least—a sobering thing when faced with such horrible remakes as I am Legend or Friday the 13th.

Just don’t get me started on Zombie’s choice for Malcolm McDowell to play Dr. Loomis.

 

 


Primus – Green Naugahyde (2011)

Green Naugahyde, by Primus (2011)

Green Naugahyde is the first release from Primus in 12 years, but in no way does that mean anyone should consider these guys to be slackers.
Les Claypool formed this incredible band in 1986, after auditioning to be the new bass player for Metallica, following the tragic death of Cliff Burton.  Thankfully, he did not get hired by them and went on become one of the most innovative musicians in modern music. James Hetfield is quoted as saying “he was too good” and “should do his own thing”. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that! Can you imagine the train-wreck that likely would have ensued if Claypool started playing with those guys, especially in their later years when they got all self-important and emo and annoying?

Anyway, Primus has come and gone over the decades, even rotating band-members in and out. The one thing that has always remained consistent has been Claypool and his unique ability to craft distinctive and original music. If you hear a Primus song, you know it. And that is not to say in any way that they all sound the same, quite the opposite. But it is that distinct heavy slap-bass presence that always dominates their style, in a good way. There is a reason that their old slogan was “If you didn’t like Primus before…you probably still wont like them!”
Although Primus has vanished and re-appeared consistently over the years, Les Claypool as always continued working and innovating. He has collaborated with artists as diverse as Henry Rollins, Tom Waits, Hank Williams III, Limp Bizkit (WTF?) and Gov’t Mule. He formed the short-lived band Sausage in 1994 at the height of Primus’ “popularity”.  In the early 2000’s he formed the incredible group of musicians known as Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. They released two live albums (one of which was a recording of them covering Pink Floyd’s classic album Animals from start to finish) before releasing Purple Onion in 2002.


Fuck, I forgot one! In 2001 he formed Oysterhead with Trey Anastasio (of Phish) and Stewart Copeland (of The Police). They recorded one outstanding album and did one tour before disbanding later that year.


Ok, back to Purple Onion. It is an amazing album, possibly my favorite of all Claypool’s work. It has some of the most interesting sounds combined with lyrical gems sharp with social commentary. “Cosmic Highway” and “Up on the roof” are particular tracks that stand out, but the album as a whole is great. Maybe the most interesting track from this album is “Whamola Jam”, a nearly lyric-free dirge that Claypool plays on the instrument he invented, named the Whamola. It is essentially a one-string bass with a whammy-bar that he plays with a violin bow, piece of wood, sword, or any other thing with in reach. It is a really fascinating piece of music, and pretty incredible the range of sounds he can get from this seemingly simple construction.


The first concert I ever took my son to was the Frog Brigade tour in support of this album. He was about 8 or 9, and I know that this experience forever changed his way of looking at music, and possibly everything else.
Then, later in 2002 Claypool collaborated with virtuoso guitarist Buckethead, Parliament-Funkadelic/Talking Heads keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and former Primus drummer Bryan Mantia under the name Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. Their concerts pushed the improvisational envelope by preparing no material and not rehearsing beforehand. At one of their shows they prepared sandwiches onstage for the audience to eat.
He continued to tour and make music with his various side projects, releasing 2 solo albums and guest appearing all over the place. His bass-playing on my favorite Tom Waits album “Real Gone” really darkens the tone, and surprisingly fits seamlessly with Waits’ trademark gritty style. In 2006 he wrote a great book called “South Of The Pumphouse” and directed a not-so-great movie “Electric Apricot”. To quote the title of the Primus greatest hits collection that was also released in 2006, “They can’t all be zingers.”
Which brings us to Green Naugahyde, the first full-length studio album from Primus since 1999’s under-rated “Antipop”. It starts off in classic slow-burn Primus fashion with “Prelude To A Crawl”, which quickly moves on to the next track “Hennepin Crawler” a flat out jam with one of the greasiest bass-lines ever. Highlights of the album to me are “Eyes Of The Squirrel”, a creepy blast of insanity where he asks,”Who is gonna be the next Octo-mom?”, and “HOINFODAMAN” where the refrain is “I used to be a pimp, but now I’m hoin’ for the man.” Tunes like “Eternal Consumption Engine” and “Moron TV” combine incredibly intricate musical arrangements with sharp social commentary. My favorite track on the album has to be “Extinction Burst”, because it is completely out of control and somehow totally refined at the same time.

So, I hope you all learned something today about good music, and go out and buy/legally download this work of art as soon as you can. At the very least, now you know that Primus has done more in their career than just the South Park theme…
They also did the Robot Chicken theme song.
Dismissed.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits


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