Monday, April 11, 2005

H, II

Handsome: s/t

Some serious ex-members-of from the New York City hardcore scene swingin’ their weight around on this one. Maybe things have gotten a little bit more tolerant over the past few years, but it’s hard to imagine such a band ever really breaking through because of the relative narrow-mindedness of much of what must be targeted as their core audience. Straightedge hardcore kids being convinced to buy an album by ex-members of (insert Rev band here)? Man! These are a bunch of kids that will write angry songs and make murderous, threatening posts on messageboards if you happen to glance at a beer. Picture a silence so deafening in record stores across this fine land of ours when ex-straightedge heroes SIGN TO A MAJOR LABEL! The kids this sort of thing matters to are the same narrow-minded pinheads who majors probably refer to on dozens of colored projections as either ‘core group’ or ‘intended audience’- said demographic would rather wring their hands and talk about how so and so ‘stabbed the scene in the back’ then deign to pick up an album on Sony. I know, because I was like that ten years ago. Then I started a) getting laid, b) drinking, and c) not taking myself so fucking seriously. I probably missed out on any number of metal-y post-‘core records that were at least as good as this one during my fiery rebel-sans-clue phase, to say nothing of ass for days.

Hazel- Lucky Dog

Fagan warning.

I’m the new guy at work, which damns me to/ensures me of any number of Sunday night shifts. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a bit of a drag- prior to this new job I worked at the same place for four years and got the schedule that I wanted- Sundays were always good for seeing my 9-5, M-F friends.

So this one Sunday night a few weeks back found things pretty slow. This one couple came in towards the end of the evening and bells of recognition went off in my head- who the hell WAS that guy? A few minutes later, I got it, and told him so, at the table:

“I’ve been wracking the walnut-sized brain trying to figure out who you are, and I got it- you used to be in Trona.”

He (and his wife) both looked surprised and pleased at the turn of events. Trona was this local band that won the ‘BCN Rumble any number of years ago- slightly hick-tinged rock music with dueling guitars and male/female vocals. They got compared to X a little bit, the default namecheck critics will use when there are male/female vocal harmonies going down (even though, in 99% of the cases, said critics miss the point that it wasn’t so much the male/female thing that made X’s harmonies great as it was the fact that the shit was so atonal that it transcended Western sound and made sense. I digress, though.) Like X, Trona started down the country road, and unlike X, broke up after two records. I thought their (Trona’s) stuff was pretty good, enough so that I was able to identify a member of the band I never met close to ten years later.

I mention all this, of course, because the Hazel record went on tonight while I was putting away my laundry and I thought ‘Hmmmm, sounds like Trona.’ Except that Hazel’s female vocalists sounds even more like Exene than Mary Ellen from Trona did (though the harmonies still can’t hold a candle to John and Exene. But you knew that.)

Helium- The Magic City

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ has parted my friends like the Red Sea. I’m firmly in the ‘irritated’ camp myself, mostly because Mr. Dynamite reminds me a whole lot of this guy who I used to work with who was just a little too precious and had that same (in my co-worker’s case, affected) ‘whatever’ about him. Drove me fucking crazy.

Did I go to high school with people like Napoleon Dynamite? Oh, probably, but I was way too busy trying to learn like half-cab feeble fakie reverts to notice. It’s not that hard of a stretch, though, to imagine that I did. Once that supposition is made, the next leap is pretty small: said kids were (or, because of when the album was released, would have been) into Helium (the band, though if you wanna say that they’d be into the gas then I’d bite.) This is a band that wrote songs about castles and unicorns and shit- perfect back-of-the-notebook stuff. None of the metal that you might expect from such imagery- strict indie pop, making the band’s fans look even more wimpy, meaning they get beat up even more/faster.

(I just wanna mention this one 4th of July like eight or nine years ago when I went to some random party in Somerville. I was waiting in line for the bathroom, right, and there were these god-awful, amazingly disturbing noises coming from behind the closed door, like someone was shitting out their intestines, real nasty stuff that had everyone in line so uncomfortable that we were all looking down at our shoes, avoiding all eye contact. Finally, the noises stopped and the door opened- we were all bombarded with this stink like a battlefield that contained dozens of overflowing greasetraps. Then who walks out? Damn right- it was Mary Timony, the singer of Helium, who has got to be one of the most beautiful, adorable women I have seen in my life. Don’t take the back-of-the-notebook stuff lightly is all I’m sayin’- the shit has some bite.)

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