Daydream Nation and the Speculative Music of Sonic Youth

In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.

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Misfits – The Devil’s Rain (Misfits Records, 2011)

Over the past several years, Jerry Only has been both lauded for keeping the Misfits alive and demonized for continuing to milk the Crimson Ghost cash-cow.  To say that I’ve been skeptical of the Jerryfits would be an understatement; aside from the Project: 1950 covers album, I hadn’t checked any of the band’s post-Michale Graves discography until this year.  Sure, Project: 1950 was a fun little experiment, but there was just something about Only continuing to front the band that didn’t sit well with me.

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25 Years of Danzig III: How the Gods Kill

All of these album anniversaries are starting to make me feel old.  But with that said, I can think of few better to celebrate than the silver anniversary of what is arguably Danzig’s masterpiece, How The Gods Kill.  I can’t remember exactly what year I bought the album, but I do remember picking it up at one of the three record stores that populated the local shopping mall (ah, the good ol’ days), bringing it home and subsequently being blown away.  It immediately struck me as one of the deepest, darkest albums I’d ever heard up to that point in my life, and given that I was still an impressionable teenager, I’d like to think it was one of the key albums that helped to propel me down the path of heavy music.

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Misfits – Wasp Queens (Sonic Boom, 2017)

Given how revered the Glenn Danzig-lead incarnation of the Misfits is and how few people had the opportunity to see them in concert during their heyday, it seems more than a bit unusual that there is only one official live album from that era, the rough and ragged Evilive.  Thankfully, there are a ton of unofficial releases floating around out there, the latest of which is Wasp Queens, a full 1982 live set from NYC’s Irving Plaza with a radio interview from 1981 tacked on for good measure.

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Doyle – II: As We Die (EMP / Monsterman Records, 2017)

Back in 2017, ex-Misfits (Current?  What exactly is the status of the Misfits following the Riot Fest reunions?) guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein released one of the year’s best under-the-radar metal albums in the form of Abominator, a groovy, crushing disc that came off like the bastard child of Danzig and Pantera.  Collaborating with Cancerslug frontman Alex Story, Doyle was finally able to fully step into the spotlight and out of the respective shadows of Glenn Danzig and his brother Jerry Only.

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Kane Roberts Attacks!

The early eighties was a rough time for Alice Cooper.  After releasing a string of commercially unsuccessful albums that he to this day can’t recall making due to heavy substance abuse (Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin and DaDa), the shock rockin’ son of a preacher opted to take a three year break from writing and recording music.

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Body Count – Bloodlust (Century Media, 2017)

Back in 2014, Body Count emerged from eight years in the shadows with all guns blazing in the form of Manslaughter; one of the year’s best metal albums, not to mention one of the year’s biggest surprises.  It was a bludgeoning yet precise aural assault that deftly mixed mosh-ready riffage with lyrics that were by turns over-the-top violent, darkly humorous and delightfully un-PC.

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