Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 draws to an end...

and with it, I hope so will the silence of this blog...
I always intend to write more here than I do. I hope that I am able to get more posted here in 2014... that's the plan... so if you are still reading, thanks....

I'll see you all on the flip...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Calling it Quits.... on the unseen horror project of 2013

I started this blog over a decade ago and in that time it's waxed and wained I don't know if any one still comes here to look at it. .. and that's on me cause I stopped feeding it. I let it fall fallow... I got restless and moved on...

Which is what I am doing with some other things in my life.. I am calling it a day on my weekly OTC podcast segment after 2 years... it's just not as fun as it had been and it's just become a grind for me...

in a smaller move I am calling off the October unseen horror film watching... why? because I am not having fun with it. It has been a while since I have really really liked horror films and while I get a kick out of a few here and there over all I have been left cold by far to many. Been there, done that, it's old hat, it's stale and I am just not into it..

I am sure there are a couple of horror flicks that I will check out during the rest of the month, but for now it's not going to be something that I am going to make sure to get to each day of this month....

I can't get off the ground and it's got me down...

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 13

Newer slasher flick, well made and OK, but over all maybe I have simply aged out of the watcher/ fan base of these films... for what ever reason I find that crime and noir films engage me more than the slasher film....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 12

Killer Pad...
dumb dumb fun. It moves along quickly and I did laugh at some of the jokes....
Looking for silly fun, you could do a lot worse...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 11

Big Bug film-- fun romp and worth a look if you dig this kinda thing..

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 10

Cold Prey
A slasher from Norway... it's cold, it's snowy and in an abandoned ski resort 5 friends stop for the night after one of them is injured. It's spam in a can for the most part and while it looks good, the cast is solid, I am not seeing anything that elevates it from being a average slasher...  aside from the fact
 that it's Norway and it moves along nicely. So maybe solid B territory for this...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 9

Solid 50s proto slasher.... moved along nicely and while I figured out who the Bat was early on, it's still worth a look..

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 8

yeah... I missed day 7... but maybe I'll do 2 in one day at some point..

anyway, tonight was the much talked about

Frankenstein's Army..

a WWII USSR found footage film, the title pretty much says all you need to know...

It was ok... a little limited and a little light in giving a set up, but overall it's worth a look

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 6

High Tension.... home invasion, capture, escape, psycho flick from France... looks great, made well, but the story??? not something that I loved, and not really anything new. I have to say that I feel I have made my peace with oblivion and so the theme of death, destruction and annihilation don't cut me as deep as others... after all freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose... and I might be the mot free MF on the planet..

Ok not really, but I am closer that so many others....

over all, B- for High Tension...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 5

Remake of  The Wizard of Gore.... I have never seen the original but picked this up for a couple of bucks at big lots... so we shall see if it was worth the time or the money...
Weird, strange, Noirish,
It's a bit dark in places (I am talking photo wise here) and there is a William S. Burroughs feel to the film... not a great film, but worth a look.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 4

Rob Zombie as a film maker had been hit and miss for me. I have seen all of his films and until now the only one that I ever felt the need to revisit was The Devils Rejects (but I will admit that I know I need to check out House of 1000 Corpses again).... but now Zombie has given us a film that is worthy a follow up to The Devils Rejects...

The Lords of Salem is a creepy 70s devil worship tale set in present day.  It's an ambitious film that references cult and classic films, but also high brow fair. Kubrick's DNA is in this film, as is the Devils Rain and Altered States. It looks great not only in photography but also the set design and lighting. The sound is creepy and restrained, and while the film drags just a bit the pace is fine.

Sheri Moon Zombie is very effective as the star of the film, she is restrained in ways we have not seen from her before, and I would love to see her in another role like this. The music is solid and appropriate for what the film is evoking. 

I am going to have to check this out again, if you liked House of the Devil, check this out.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 3

Some trash called Decadent Evil it's from Echo Bridge set that I picked up cheap cheap cheap...

Honestly is trash and sleaze this hard to get right?

Oh well, it's just over an hour long so why not...

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 2

last night watched Critters 3 for my 2nd film for Oct... it was... well ok, very early 90s and sill... which is what I expected...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oct 2013: 31 Unseen Horror Flicks day 1

Starting off with some groovie 70s Hammer Horror...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Oct 2013: Horror Films

The Plan: 
Try and watch 31 horror films that I have yet to see....

I am not going to be writing big long blog posts... but there will be something... this is my Horror/ Cult TBW pile...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Podcasting A go go

The September 2013 podcasting blitz marches on...

this month has become the guest spot/ host month for podcasts.

I started off with co-hosting The Gentlemens Guide To Midnite Cinema Episode #252: Astronaut Highway

where my buddy Tim and I talked about 2 music related films Human Highway (1982) directed by Dean Stockwell and Neil Young and The American Astronaut (2001) directed by Cory McAbee..

I have also recorded guest spots on The List Music Podcast and Monster Kid Radio…. I am scheduled to appear on Love that Album ep 50 and the 2nd installment of the Cannon Films series from the Film Podcast.

Links will follow as episodes become available…

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Old Rock Fiend stuff...

so this is really old stuff from the early 2000's days... I think I might have posted some of it previously, but hey here it is again... I wish I had the dates these were written and I am still missing my first Rockfiend column where I talked about greatest hits albums and a moment when I really should have kissed the nice Swedish girl in Norway.... but alas here is what remains...

BTW: the column was called Don't Get Me Started and was pretty much me screaming look at this stuff....

Welcome back for another installment of Don’t get Me Started. I started this column as a place to organize my ranting on the music industry and related topics. This time around I am taking a break with ranting about what’s wrong with the music industry, and giving you a quick run down of what I am enjoying in the music world at the moment. Here are my five current heavy-rotation CD's/ bands, in no particular order:

1.Thee ULTRA BIMBOOS: Bimboo Wizard. You know, there is often a moment when you hear an album and it either steals a little piece of your soul, or it adds magic to your life and soul. These Helsinki Hellcats have added to my soul with this record. It just might be the best new record of the year so far. There should be a review of it some where around this site, so check that out for more info. If you are at all into girl garage/ power rock, then I suggest tracking down a copy of this album. Also I love the album art, which is the best faux 70’s looking cover art I have seen in a long time.
2.GROOVIE GHOULIES: Freaks on Parade. This 6 song EP came out a while ago, and it might be the best release of the Ghoulies career. It’s short, kind of silly, kind of serious, and all rock. It’s filled with the fun sci-fi / monster songs and a couple of better than standard power pop super rock songs that the Ghoulies are experts in creating. There is so much love, joy, fun and positive rock energy in these songs I find it amazing that this CD isn’t being talked about more. It did take me a while to really sit down and hear the record. Its’ one of those play it a few time and it's ok, play it a dozen times, and it's the best thing the band ever released records.
3.DIY-Teenage Kicks-UK Pop 1. A decade a go, Rhino records seemingly miss stepped when it released its D.I.Y. series. Despite good press, they didn’t sell well, and quickly went out of print. Just a few years back you could find copies in the discount bins. Here 10 years later they have become much sought after and CD's, I wish I had bought all of them at $8 a pop. I used to see all of them all over the place, even K Mart!!! I don't recall when or why I started picking them up, my brother has the 2 UK punk volumes, but it was only a couple of years ago that I really started to listen to the CD’s that I had. I have gone though phases where one or the other has been my favorite, but right now UK pop I is constantly blowing me away. The 19 songs on this CD cover the more power pop side of punk from the UK 1976-79. There is an amazing array of great tunes on this disc. My current favorites are : 'Another girl, Another Planet', 'Mary Provost', and 'Ghosts of Princes in The Towers'. They each ring though my mind often enough to be described as ‘obsessively haunting’.
4.RAMONES: Mania. I'm picking this one cause; it's as close to a Best of as you can get.[1] I admit that I am a late comer to the Ramones, party but better late than never. I had of course heard their stuff off and on over the years. I picked up Ramones Mania CD a couple of years back, listened to it a couple of times, and filed it away. I'm not sure why but lately I have been listening to a lot of Ramones. I bought several of the re- issue CD’s but it's still Ramones Mania that I listen too most often. It has a good selection of tracks, and is very listenable. For my money right now, ‘Bonzo goes to Bitberg’ might be the best tune that they ever wrote. Closely followed by just about every other track from their first 4 albums. Today their may sound fairly tame next to modern mall punks however, they are still THE Punk band with a capital 'P'.
5.Electro A-Pop-E-lypse CD-R. This disc is a comp of Electro pop weirdness I put together. Most of the music comes from the late 70’s and early 80’s. Ok, there is a current band on the end of the disc. The bands on the disc are: Kraftwerk, The, Devo, Buggles , Wall of Voodoo, Stiffs Inc and The Faint. All of these bands have worthy CD’s that are worth checking out. If your reading this I expect that you have some idea of what Kraftwerk and Devo were about. I never knew that the end of the world could be so cheery, and shimmering. Of all of these bands the one I recommend checking out the most is the Buggles. Their ‘Living in the Age of Plastic’ is a great Electro pop album, that has not only stood the test of time, but might be more relevant today than when it was released. If you want the full track list, e-mail me.

What 5 albums are you currently addicted to?

-Eric Reanimator


I feel guilty for not having written a column in a while. The truth is that I haven't figured out how to say what's on my mind about the music industry in the last couple of months. So here is a semi-experimental column that I hope will suffice until my brain starts working again. Blame the summertime heat and what not...

Nothing Don't Mean Nothing Anymore: Mall punk, the good the bad and the ugly.
The good: That kids are hearing something that approximates punk, or at least punk lite. Think of it as a gate way drug. First they hear Blink 182, and then Op Ivy, and maybe if they are lucky that will lead to the Clash, Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys and then The MC5. As rock and roll addicts we have to be patient and be there to help and advise when these kids are ready to hear "Kick Out the Jams". Pushing and making fun of the punk lite stuff will only alienate the younger generation. We also have to face the fact that most of these kids are just following the crowd. As one kid told me, 'I listen to what every everyone else is'
The Bad: Mall punk is the worst, most cliched elements of buzz saw power pop and too often it's too clean sounding.
The ugly: Tattoos and piercing used to define you as someone that was willing to risk ridicule for changing your body in ways that most didn't. Today it's a way of showing that you are just like everyone else. Putting a new hole in your head or ink under your skin doesn’t make you a punk, except in the prison sense.
Next Topic: Hot Topic
Mall punk central. Filled with Tee shirts and over priced retro-items. On the one hand it gives the Goth chick and punk guy in every suburb a place to work where they don't have to wear a visor and a polyester uniform. On the other hand it's a loud environment that seems to cater to punk as a fashion or image and down plays the music. I wonder how many classic punk and rock albums they sell as compared to the tee shirts for those bands. I am sure that there are more Modern Lovers tee's sold at HT than copies of the CD, if they even carry it. It's a trend. I don't know that it will last unless they can find a way to keep their old customers and draw new ones. Also I hear that they have a policy of not consigning local bands CD's or allowing flyers for local shows. Lame.
The state of music criticism / music reporting:
Too many people in this gig are looking or access, or hip points. Too many want the free CD's and the back stage passes. Not enough listen to the music and follow the basic rules of any type of review: what is it? what do you like? what do you not like? recommendation or not?
Stores offering to order music:
Hey, I have the net, my column here is on the net, I can order what I am looking for off of the net. On the up side, I don't have to deal with lame record shops, and stupid customers and clerks, and lack of stock. I can find the item cheaper often. On the other hand, I don't get to hold the item in my hand before handing over the cash. I have to wait (not really a big deal, but...) and mostly I have to deal with the mail. If you live in a house in a ok place it's not really all that big of a deal, but if you are like me and live in a shady apartment complex you worry about the Ragga barn (trash kids) stealing stuff, and you worry about the semi illiterates working in the rental office not letting you know that your order is there.
Radio, radio:
I really wish that there was more to listen to on the radio. I wish that commercial stations would have the ability and guts to give specialty programs the life they deserve. I would listen in every time that I could (i.e. not at work, or the movies, or what ever) to a show that featured new releases this week, and an second listen portion with a second look at last weeks releases. And then a 'last months' gems deal. We're talking rock and roll here.
If you put out samples, so people can get an idea of what you are putting out, unless of course you just want the money and don't want people to know that you are in fact pimping complete crap. I don't know, low sound quality 'hey it sounds better on the album' or even a random stream of stuff over the net so people can hear and know what you have to offer. Maybe a wake up with next weeks new releases or something. Create some fucking excitement about your new records.
launch dot com:
Like it, get on it, hope that they find a way to get more underground stuff into their system. If I had a better computer set up at home and I lived by myself I’d have it on all the time.
Pretty good resource for basic info on a whole lot of stuff. You want to know about Crass, or Jimmie Rodgers, maybe you've heard the Danzig cover of Albert King's the Hunter, read about King there.
Open your mind, and LISTEN:
Someone likes a band that you think you hate, or know you hate. Ask them to play it for you and tell you what they like. Listen, think and then say what's on your mind. Talk about how it made you feel, and why you didn't care for it. I.E. Good Charlotte, it was too slick, and the songs reminded me of the Buzzcocks with out the whit, charm or energy. That's when you pull out the Buzzcocks and say 'just listen with me for a moment. Do you hear it?' Remember the best scene in "High Fidelity" that isn't abut love, is when Dick plays the Stiff Little Fingers record and people are digging it. One wonders if that scene sold any copies of SLF's first album.
the Essential Damned:
Hello Record industry, get off your asses and start pimping the Damned like they deserve. You have already beat The Ramones, The Clash, and The Pistols' drum. It's time to give Vanian and his crew their due. At the very least let's get an essential CD that provides a clear and deserving overview of the band and its history. Of course I am available to help with track selection, call me write me, e-mail me.
Ok, go read some more Rock Fiend, buy some records that you are unsure of, and go see some bands. When you are at shows, talk to strangers, talk to bands, and more importantly be a part of the solution.
call me, write, threaten me, react to my writing at
web sites to check out:
-Eric Reanimator

‘This is the story of a transition period in American Rock and roll, of a changeling era which dashed by so fast that nobody knew much of what to make if it while it was around, only noticeable in retrospect by the vast series of innovations it would eventually spawn, both in the way that music would be listened to and the way it was constructed.’
Original Nuggets Liner Notes, Lenny Kaye Fall 1972

This is a history of an era of rock and roll that seems to have been forgotten. It has become the victim of a campaign of miss information and denial. The common consensus these days seems to be that the Grunge/ Alternative ‘movement’ was merely a marketing scheme to boost corporate record sales and revenue. I for one don’t buy that theory, as the true genesis of the so called ‘Alternative Revolution’. In fact I would say that in until the majors managed to find a way to control the sales of ‘alternative’ records that the revolution was exactly that. It was a period of time when the bean counters had no idea what was goin g to sell and what wasn’t, in commercial terms it was a revolt.

I have a personal stake in this story, because it’s about my history, and that of my generation. It’s about the mass culture of the period of time I was a young man. So for me this is all personal. I was the right age at the right time and in the right place to have a front row seat for most of it. It seemed to really be something that my peers seemed care about and could rally around. I should have known that they were mostly a bunch of bandwagoneers just like their parents. The moment they figured out how to make millions from the internet they were all buying expensive toys, and blowing cash like crazy, and forgot about all the things that I thought we were gonna change when we started to exert out control of the world. it’s like most of us forgot about the very real issues that the music was talking about.

Grunge, has become a dirty word (sorry the pun was too good to pass up), it’s the disco of our 2003, un-hip, un-cool and all but forgotten. As with punk, it’s blast of rock’n’social commentary has been watered down and tamed until the leading bands of the movement are all but forgotten, and all that remains is Modern Rock radio telling us that Creed has got something of note to say. Luckily Creed and their fourth generation afterbirths of Alternative Nation seems to be dying out. Today the top of the Alt rock heap is being challenged with the next underground sensation ‘Garage Rock’ (don’t get me started on that one).

The 'grunge' backlash got me to thinking and I felt it was about time to go back and take a look at Grunge/ Alternative music, circa 1994 or so. So I scoured my CD collection to see what I had held on to from the early days. I wanted to see what still mattered to me, and what held up musically. I was a surprised what I found. Several of the bands and their discs held up quite well, and what surprised me were the ones that didn’t.

So what was it about grunge and alternative anyway? It seems the current thinking on the grunge era is that people were just going along with the masses, just like their baby doomer parents did in the ’60 (Don’t get me started on that one either). It sounds like people have forgotten what their lives were like and what they cared about, or what they pretended to care about. Denial and discarding of ones past is the worst kind of revisionist history.

I always try to challenge my assumptions and beliefs about everything. In my life I have rarely just gone along with the masses, and I wasn’t just going along when it in the case of Grunge/Alt music. Unlike a lot of people I will publicly state that I still Like the first Pearl Jam album. I find that it was accessible and lyrically it was talking about things that I saw going on around me everyday. It was a lot more real than the party metal and teen pop that was being peddled to my generation only a few years earlier.

My musical interests have evolved and matured since the heyday of grunge/alt’s chart reign. I don’t listen to my old CD’s from that era too much these days. There are a few favorites that find their way into my CD player on a regular basis, but for the most part I do not play them. Pulling them out, I wondered how many were really worth having held onto, and how many were really worth remembering. I also found myself slotting some surprising bands into the category of Grunge and Alternative.

In looking back at the era, I remembered how blurred the lines between genres became in the days of grunge. I recall once the Legendary LA punk group X saying on MTV that they were an Alternative band, because the Alternative tag would sell more records. That’s a crass statement, but it also highlights the fact that alternative was less a sound, and more of an understanding that the music wasn’t commercially conceived. I think it’s important to note that most of the bands really were not looking to sell a million records, most just wanted to be able to play music and pay their bills. I can’t see that any of these bands were trying to jump on the bandwagon and follow the hip trends of the day. If that had been the case they all would have been trying to be the next Warrant or the next Poison.

A little Background
I started seriously listening to music in the late 80's. My friends and I went to Punk Rock high school USA. I walked among the Misfits devil locked cult daily, they exposed me to Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers almost 5 years before either would break through and become popular mainstream bands. I saw that Pubic image Limited P.I.L. tee shirt in the halls, and cluelessly had no idea what it was. Black Flag played their second to last show 4 blocks away from my high school in 1986. I didn’t know it at the time but; Iggy Pop (and the Stooges), The MC5, the Rationals, and Radio Birdman’s Dez Tek (none of whom I heard till a decade later) had lived in my hometown, Ann Arbor Michigan. While I was in high s chool; GG Allin and Dee Dee Ramone both lived in town, I must have passed them countless times around town not having a clue who they were.

The first music that I heard that really ‘changed my life’ was from the soundtrack to the film Dudes. The soundtrack was a combination of Punk and Metal and even a track by Jane’s Addiction before they became an early alternative staple. It was a interesting mix of tracks. Bands on their way up, bands on their way down, and bands that would never make it anywhere (of course the bands that went no where provided some of my favorite tracks on the album). Only 2 bands on that album would later be of note to the main stream during the Grunge/Alternative era, the aforementioned Jane’s Addiction and Megadeath (who had a mainstream hit in the fall of 1992). It was from thi s album that I became aware of the fact that there was music out there that wasn’t on the radio.

It’s interesting to note that at this time (the late ‘80’s) three big bands that were making inroads in the mainstream and becoming popular were R.E.M., U2 and INXS. All were what was labeled as post punk/pop/rock bands. They weren’t traditional pop bands, and at the same time they weren’t really rock or heavy metal acts. They stood out in a top 40 world that was filled with slick pop-Synth-New Wave and hair metal. Both of which really descended from edgier Punk and Metal respectively. Those two styles would be heralded as the main ingredients in Grunge. Only U2 and R.E.M. were able to hold on and capture the alternative revolution pay off and continue to this day.

For me the alternative revolutions started with that Dudes soundtrack, but what really kicked it into high gear for me were three bands that opened my ears and really made music matter to me. Before I head these bands pop music was something that I just didn’t undersand and didn’t get. We didn’t listen to Rock and Roll or Pop music in my house. These three bands let me know that music could and would connect with me, say something challenging or interesting, tell a story or just be fun.

Those three bands were
1 King’s X
2 Drivin’n’Cryin
3 Queensryche

They all had several things in common. All were bands that were; skilled players, wrote ‘Smart’ songs, sang about subjects of real substance, and all were underground bands that were just about to break on a national level. I like to think of all three as ‘proto-alternative’ bands. They were able to provide a bridge between the then currently popular hard rock and grunge/alt.

Queensryche and King’s X definitely came to my attention via MTV, not the radio, Sometime around 1990. I don’t recall if I first heard Drivin'n'Cryin on radio or MTV, but one or the other was the source. They all did receive some radio airplay, but it was MTV that gave me the most memorable exposure to all three. The video’s for ‘It’s love’, ‘Silent Lucidity’ and ‘Fly me Courageous’ were all distinctive, in that they were a change from the majority of video’s that were played at the time. There was a sense of something else in them. Either it was style, or zanyness or just a different vision.

They were all on major labels, and they all had ‘hit’ song(s) at this time. All three have faded from the minds of most people, but each have retained a loyal and thriving cult following. Both King’s X and Queensryche fans were early users of the Internet mailing list to contact each other. It was down right exciting to open my e-mail box each week knowing that I would be able to read the thought and information written by other fans. In those days it seemed like there was more content than Spam on those mailing lists.

All three bands came to the attention of the masses (for a short time at least) with solid albums, it was the album that came just before their ‘commercial break though’ album that is considered their best, and that they are most likely to be remembered for. In the case of King’s X it was ‘Gretchen goes to Nebraska’, Drivin’n’Cryin ‘Mystery Road’, and Queensryche ‘Operation: Mindcrime’

 (even though for my money Rage for Order was the best thing that they ever released).

Anyway, it was 1990-1991, and the radio airwaves were ruled by the likes of NKOTB, Warrant and 3-year-old replays of U2's ‘Joshua Tree’ and INSX's ‘Kick’ album. R.E.M. were making inroads into the Top 40 world with their early hits. For the most part the popular albums of the time seemed to be easily marketed and easily categorized. Looking back it’s kind of surprising that these three bands were able to slip onto the charts. All three were pushed onto the Hair metal/ Blues metal set, even though Queensryche obviously belonged there, you can make a strong case for King’s X and Drivin'n'Cryin status as being rock bands not metal bands. However like Enuff'z'Nuff's (with their power pop gem ‘Fly High Michele’) th e industry felt it was easier to shove them in the hair metal category, and make a few dollars for the quarter.

I started adding Cassette tapes of the three bands to my small collection in 1990 and 1991. Cassette was the format of the time. CD's and CD players were expensive and the Walkman and Boom Box were the most accessible music players for a lot of people (me included). Most cars featured tape decks, and you could make comp tapes easily to share with friends. I didn’t have a lot of money and so I was only able to buy a few tapes.

I went to my college orientation in the summer of 1991. The guys staying across the hall from me spent all night blasting 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' by Warrant. That was the big hit of the moment. Looking back it really is hard to believe that six months later, everyone came back from Christmas break with ‘Smells Like teen Spirit’ as the song of the time and everything changed.

October of 1992, the Seattle 4 ruled the charts. The United States was under full the Alternative Nation assault and it would take a few years to be truly tamed and neutered to what we have today.

The Seattle four were of course: Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. Each played a mix of Black Sabbath, Black Flag and Big Black, in their own concentration of elements. In other words a bit of Metal, a bit of Punk and a bit of noise rock.

Today only Pearl Jam remains, however the music that they are creating is so far from where they started that you would never recognize them as the same band. Drugs killed Nirvana and Alice in Chains, and who knows what ended Soundgarden? Maybe is has something to do with Chris Cornell being the most commercially successful post Soundgarden, but Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd might be the most successful artistically? I really don’t know, but that last album was a real mess. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about the big four. I am sure that there are plenty of others that wish to tell you that story.

Hot on the heels of the arrival of the Seattle 4 'Modern Rock radio’ was born. It was the format that they were channeled into. In the early days of the Nirvana explosion the music was known under several names some old some new. I recall hearing: Grunge, Alternative, Hard rock, college rock, Subpop, punk metal, sludge metal, and sometimes just Seattle Rock. Modern Rock was and is what the industry has decided to call it. I look at it as being the for the same marketing purposes that punk became New Wave.

Early on the format seemed really open, as there was only a limited number of times that tracks by the big four could be played, in a day or in an hour. As we all found out that overplaying a song can kill it just as quickly as underplaying it. The number of other bands that were becoming popular, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and Live[1] just to name three, tracks you could also play by alternative hit makers were limited by old rules, record company pressure (can’t have more than one single at a time can you?) and fear. The remaining airtime was filled with older underground stuff that had cracked the pop market, U2, R.E.M., the B-52's etc. sometimes older punk: the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and Post Punk: Killing Joke, Love and Rockets, and XTC. Sometimes if you were lucky you might even get some proto punk ala’ The Stooges and MC5, it’s just too bad that the industry didn’t have the foresight to let the DJ’s run wild and play what ever they wanted.

All kinds of stuff initially slipped onto the airwaves, there were a lot of over hypes and quickly bombing one hit wonders. Every few superstars emerged from the era. For a moment, for the first time in many years it was a lot more likely that a small band that had been snatched up my a major label would get a shot at radio play. It was also a lot more likely that a band would have the opportunity to sink or swim on the merits of their MUSIC and not the record company pimping (which there was plenty of). Looking for this New Big Thing, the majors were also doing their best to raid the rosters of a number of smaller labels. Sometimes just buying little labels out right and using them as their minor leagues.

More important than radio was MTV, who had already changed the pop music landscape by pimping pretty boy New Wave (Duran Duran) and Hair Metal (Slaughter). Arguably the two most important shows on MTV at that time were the weekend graveyard shifts occupied by: 120 Minutes (the ‘alternative’ show) and The Headbangers Ball (The ‘Metal’ show). With the arrival of Nirvana and the rest there was some question as to which show they belonged on.

Watching the Headbangers Ball especially, you could feel that as time went on there seemed to be more and more dissatisfaction behind the scenes of both scenes. More conflict between he host and the producers. Dave Kendall who had shepherded 120 Minutes for many years vanished to be replaced by a revolving set of guest hosts, before a new host was set for the show. I don’t think that 120 Minutes was ever as good as it had been with Kendall. I don’t know if it was because of his input or that he was given more power because, ‘who cares about 2 hours late on a Sunday night?’ I stopped watching the show at some point, most likely in ‘96 and I hear that it is no longer around.

Without any warning or comment the Headbangers Ball vanished from MTV, along with Rikki Rackman[2]. Some might be surprised that I would tag the Headbangers Ball as a forum for alternative music. It s hould be remembered that many alternative bands debut on The Headbangers Ball, before making their appearance on 120 Minutes and then finding rotation on MTV during the day and evening hours. At the same time there were more than a few bands that first appeared on 120 Minutes that were definitely more hard, heavy and metal oriented. These blurred lines caused bands that had been originally pitched as Heavy metal, finding a themselves with a non-metal fan base. The most famous of these was of course Nirvana, who first appeared on the Headbanger Ball before becoming the 3 kings of the Alternative nation. Nirvana was as clueless about why they were on the ball as anyone, which was bore out by Kobain’s snotty attitude towards the whole enterprise. This was of course before anyone knew anything about his hostility towards the corporate rock machine, he came off as being an asshole to those of us who were just music fans and had not yet been exp osed to the punk anti-corporate ethic.

The changes in the hosts and/or content (and control) of both shows I would think was precipitated by the sudden interest of the ‘Bosses’ in these ‘established’ forums for alternative music. Undoubtedly the record companies exuded their pressure tactics on both shows as well. As is often the case, when the artist is allowed to follow their own muse their art grows, the instant that the bean counters get involved it all turns to more noise than signal. As with alternative music it’s self, both shows seem lost their way and fell apart before being cancelled. They may be gone, but it is still important to remember that it was out of these forums that many of the biggest names in the alternative revolution were ab le to become mainstream bands.

My defection from the Alternative Nation came around 1995, and continued into 1996. Two things happened, 1) I was caught up in the re-birth of the Misfits and was becoming a fully fledged Horror Punk fan. That sent me off onto a musical road on a sub-sub-genre hunt, that I followed for the next 5 years. 2) Concurrent with that was the discovery of the Scandinavian Hi Energy Rock and Roll scene. That scene in turn was responsible for education me about the proto punk scene that had occurred in Ann Arbor Michigan in the late 1960’. That’s a whole story in and of it’s own, that I hope to tell someday.

What I want to talk about here are those that didn’t make it to the big big show, and a few of the bands that did, and couldn’t hold on to that attention and seem to have faded from memory. What I am interested in is the bands that seem to have come to the attention of the public in the wake of the big names. In their wake is the wrong phrase. Those that got a shot due to the interest in underground music created by the big four is more accurate. I think of them often as the forgotten bands. I see them as the splinters of the Alternative Nation, or what ever.

There is no good reason that a few of the bands I an going to write about never made it big. Mostly it’s all about timing, and energy and appearing to get there first. There are a few bands on my list that were there first, first being too early. For the most part they just never seemed to catch as many breaks as the big names, or have the backing that the others did at their label or what ever. Some might have called them the second stringers, and the could-have-beens, in my mind they are the lost bands the deserved rediscovery. Just as there are plenty 1960’s era garage bands that have been rediscovered and archived in the last dozen years, many of these bands are awaiting rescue from the cheap bins.

Of the bands that I am going to write about some had their moments of glory, but most just faded into the discount bin. There are also a few one-off bands or side projects that have landed on my list; I just felt that they had something to add to the map of the first wave of alternative music history. I also found as I was researching this essay that I felt compelled to include a band that went on to become huge later on, that would be the Goo Goo Dolls.

White Zombie was also a pretty major band, but they couldn’t hold it together, and imploded. I fear that they would have suffered the same fate as many of their contemporaries if they had stayed together, so I do not mourn their passing. Rob Zombie had emerged as the new Alice Cooper Guru of Horror, and he's into his own deal, which is much less alternative and more dance oriented

industrial metal. Other than that most of these groups are pretty much forgotten by the masses. If they were known at all, they will be the ‘Hey, that sounds familiar’ band that someone plays at a party and the next couple of minutes will be spent trying to recall who they are.

Before we get started with the music, a few pieces of business that I need to deal with. First accompany this essay is a list of 27 bands/ songs that I think have held up in quality and stayed with me all these years. All of these bands were on major labels or major Indies at the time that I am writing about. I have limited my self to major label stuff, because these were the ones that we able to get at least an airing on MTV and radio. Most were also covered in the main stream corporate rock magazines, as well as the major indie ‘zines. There were more than a few bands that I dropped off this list due to their indie status. I feel the need to stress up front that these are MY picks as the best overlooked stuff from the 'splinters' era[3].

My second order of biz, is to answer the inevitable question as to why I have chosen 1990 to 1996 as the time span I am covering here. The answer is quite simple. That was the time period that I really got into the then CURRENT music. After ’96 I was really starting to look into the past and listen to old stuff from the Metal, punk, Rockabilly and garage rock era. 1996 was also the last time I truly recall being excited by NEW music. 1996 was also the year that President Clinton signed Rock and Rolls death warrant, the Telecom act of 1996. The Telecom act changed radio in such a way that fewer and fewer bands even had a chance to get air play than in the years leadi ng up the the Telecom Act. It affected Rock'n'Roll, as much as the advent of MTV changed the marketing of music in the early 80’s.

Now on to the music.

What I have done is group the bands into sets. I intend to have a new set added to this piece every so often (like when I am done writing it), but until then, here are the sets and the bands I plan to cover.

We did it first, Proto Alternatives:
1 King’s X
2 Drivin’n’Cryin
3 Queensryche
4 Mother Love Bone

Hey We're From Seattle too!
5 Screaming Trees
6 Mudhoney

We got cash, time for the Side Projects
7 Brad
8 Hater
9 Temple of the Dog

Follow for Now, Princes of X:
10 Galactic Cowboys
11 Atomic Opera

The Others!
12 4 Non Blondes
13 Dead Can Dance

Punky, Noisy Power Pop For Alternatives:
14 Goo Goo Dolls
15 Psyclone Rangers
16 Jellyfish

Lost in Middle America?
17 PAW
18 Season to Risk
19 Sponge
20 Animal bag

From the Heavy Legions:
21 Danzig
22 Monster Magnet
23 Helmet
24 Life of Agony
25 Type O Negative
26 White Zombie
27 Dream Theater

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On my mind...

Restless ones, this week it's been..

Frances Ha...
Delightful and great looking film from 

Rochester NY Noir... yep sign me up

from Down & Out books  and Amazon of course (here)

and I was just on the new episode of The Film Podcast where  Ricardo Ulteraras, Brain Saur and I talked about the 1st four Cannon Films ....

Listen Here

lastly the AADL (Ann Arbor District Library) launched it's 2013 Summer Game... I'm a fan and a player..

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Thinkin about.... orange juice... I've always been more of a Grapefruit fan...

TCM Noir Fridays... all month, last night was the work of  Dashiell Hammett...

Jackson Phibes - Creep Skin and Vampire Blood

video here  (for some reason I can't seem to get it to embed)

Monster Kid Radio podcast.... new and worth checking out here

Friday, May 31, 2013

Restless in the heat of the summer...

Hope everyone is keeping cool... I am trying to keep the man off my back with...

watching some Glades season 2... it's fun...
and of course drinking plenty of..

keep it cool....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On my mind this evening?

took a long weekend, with 2 days off of work. Mostly to see Drivin N Cryin live in Detroit.

working my way though the 2nd season of Game of Thrones on Bluray

reading a Hard Case Crime

and it's hot, way to hot out.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness!

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Caught a afternoon showing the new Star Trek film, and I liked it but I didn't love it. It's what I have come to expect from Star Trek, an epic sweeping adventure film with universe wide stakes. Solid acting, great looking production values and an energy to the pacing all make for a fun ride....

... only, the story jumps through the expected hoops and never really captures the fun, pulpy fun of the prelude that we see at the start of the film. I know that there is an expectation for a film this big that the story has to be more than a series of adventures-- but this is Star Trek, a five year mission to have little adventures-- that said this was also the set up to that type of adventure and it ends with the start of that 5 year mission.

So here we are, 2 films in. The first was introduce this Star Trek world, this one was the next step in the set up for the main adventure of a mission to explore the universe... so I for one hope the next one is able to take that next step and show us the adventured of the Enterprise and it's crew...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

Roman Coppla’s follow up to CQ, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a film that has been wrongly vilified. It’s not perfect, but it’s nowhere near as horrible and unwatchable as some would have you believe.

What’s it about? Read the title, it’s about the mind and anxieties of Charles Swan III as he processes his most recent break up.  Charlie Sheen plays Swan and he is hit and miss and might be the weakest link in the film. There are moments when he’s clicking and moments when he’s not.  The rest of the cast was solid to great.  Props to Jason SchwartzmanBill MurrayKatheryn WinnickPatricia ArquetteAubrey Plaza for their supporting roles.

I loved the dream/fantasy sequences that’s where the film shines, Coppola has a great kinetic eye for moving the camera through great artful sets. The lighting is a little off here and there, but that’s not a huge problem for me.  I did dig the art, the music and the feel of the film.

Overall I give it a solid B- and I know that I will likely pick up a copy on Bluray for my collection. All that said, it seems like each year there is one film that everyone hates that I like, last year it was Ironsky.. this year, Charles Swan III is it for me...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The dystopic future of The Breakfast Club

The dystopic future of The Breakfast Club (1985)

I was one of those teens who saw the Breakfast Club as a film about the teen experience in the 1980s for the longest time, until I was given a chance to reconsider the film and it’s message.

Set in the Midwest suburban wasteland of the 1980s it’s the story of five teen criminals who are sentenced to be locked together in a high school/ prison and engage in a kind of lord of the flies (metaphorically) encounter group that is meant to show that they are all human.

Instead what happens is that the division of labor, love and class is redirected, restructured and each of the criminals find that as long as they fulfill their role they can continue to be a cog in the machine. They also find that if they change... their pairings they can be fixed and their rough edges can be sanded down….

Our prisoners are:

Judd Nelson as John Bender The Thug
The bad boy thug, the kind of guy that’s headed for a high security prison, the kind where bad things happen in the shower.. the kind of things that are worse that what happen in the showers in high school. And the shower antics at this high school are nothing to sneeze as, as the jock describes in vivid detail the quasi-homophobic physical assault that landed him in Saturday detention as being something akin to horseplay. Would our thug have gotten detention for committing the same act? I think not the bitter aging baby boomer fascist running to the detention would have surely sent the thug to jail.

Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish
The 1%er who couldn’t buy her way out of what ever her crime was.  She’s clearly so obsessed with her status that she has lost the ability to see or empathies with those around her who lack her money, her looks and her access to the “Good Life”. She’s the kind who can’t see she’s part of a group and refuses to care about others.

Emilio Estevez as Andrew "Andy" Clark
The Jock is the kind of mindless muscle head that he makes clear is following he example of his father.  He’s the kind of guy who bullies people and rapes people without any consequences. He’s the elite hero type who can get away with his crimes with just a slap on the wrist as long and he can physically dominate his peers.  He finds himself up against the arty/freak girl and the implication is that they domesticate each other.

Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds
The smart funny arty basketcase who is only there to give voice to an ‘Outsider”, she’d a danger to everyone and herself. She’s got issues and she’s headed for the grave… that is until she meets the Jock, who inspires her to pretty herself up and change for the acceptance of the fascist status conscious jock. Her salvation is by getting the approval of a member of the status quo (just like Annie Potts in Pretty in Pink who goes from punk doll to a yuppie, re enforcing the notion that selling out will make you happy). She’s the artist who needs a conventional man to save her… and yet she’s isn’t the most problematic of the character types.

Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson
The brain, the geek, the smartest of the group. He’s the one that no one expects to be there as he cares too much about his future and doing the right thing… only he’s been so dehumanized by the system that his failure in a shop class has caused him to contemplate killing himself.  He’s not a real person to everyone else. There is a whole discussion in the film about who would talk to him in the hallways—and it’s made clear that he has something the others want, his work… and maybe he’s gonna get to be treated like a real person if he just completes their work. This is a theme that reoccurs in other films including Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. It’s a lame role, one that actor Anthony Michael Hall disliked so much that his next notable film role (discounting Weird Science which came out of the same year) was in Tim Burton’s Edward Sissorhands where he played the… Jock Thug…

Lastly we have the warden, Paul Gleason as Richard "Dick" Vernon, the school assistant principal, a typical Baby Boomer Thug who uses tactics on the Gen Xers under his control in ways that his generation never stood for. He’s angry, aging and taking out his frustrations on the charges he’s tasked with monitoring… only he takes off, accesses personnel files of co-workers and generally avoids doing his job. He’s unethical; he’s a psycho who is no educator. He’s the like so many of his generation… he couldn’t care less about the kids he’s in charge of after all, they are not his and they are a challenge to his youth. I get the impression that he would have been happy set them loose in the school Battle Royal style…

All of which is to say…. The Breakfast Club is a rotting pile of 80s groupthink that wallows in the belief that it is positive,  that it humanizes teen archetypes,  that it treats teens like people and that it’s thee reflection of an time long gone.

Friday, May 3, 2013

On my mind this week...

On my mind this week?

The Eric Burdon album 'Til Your River Runs Dry... folk, blues and soul from one of the greats of the British Invasion...

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis... can old man Ellis pull off a NYC police pulp with cyberpunk and Native American themes? I am about half way though I will know soon enough.

The Breakfast Club... dystopia 1985! (more to come on this one)

it's hot out side... bring back the snow...

more to come.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Dir: Jeff Nichols

Mud tells several stories at the same time, but at it's core it is about family, friends, love, trust and loyality. The outline is pretty basic two boys who are just starting their teen years encounter a man named Mud who is living on a island in a river. The boys were looking for a boat stuck in a tree when they encounter him, and from there events spin out.

Anchored by stand out performances by the whole cast and a dreamy magical haze Mud is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Often times that approach is too much and things get lost or unresolved, but that's life.

I don't want to say too much because I am still unpacking the film and I really really hope that people get a chance to check it out. I will say that there are elements of adventure, noir, regional life, crime, action and coming of age wrapped up in the film. At different points I was thinking Stand by Me,  Wes Anderson, Herzog, and Malick.

Matthew McConaughey is on a roll, having seemingly left behind the the lazy rom coms of his past and give us yet another solid, truthful character piece that one would not expect.  LIke wise Reese Witherspoon is stunning as she inhabits a compromised woman who very well could be her character from Freeway down the road. The rest of the cast, from the bit roles to the two boys are great…. and the two boys, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland are some of the best young actors I have seen in a long time. I especially want to single out Jacob Lofland who mutt me in mind of a young River PhoenixMichael Shannon, who has done the heavy lifting in Nichols previous films (Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter) gives a fun, note perfect performance providing a balance to the character of Mud as Lofland's uncle who is doing the best he can. 

Mud is a film about life, living and growing. It's about the confusion, loss of focus, conflict, and the joy of love. 

It's safe to say that of the films I have seen in the theater this year, without a doubt it's the best on so far. I give it a 8.75/ 10.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Goodnight Mr. Ebert

Roger Ebert has passed away marking the true end of the era of the mass media film critic. Starting in the 1970s he and fellow critic Gene Siskel were a part of my youth, looking forward to their show each week I started my true film education.

I didn't always agree with Ebert, on a lot of things, but I respected him for being honest about a lot things in his life beyond his work. He talked opening about his weight issues, about his health, his politics and his religious views. 

I was a fan, and when he responded to my comment on his blog, it was a big deal to me. He recommended the film Black Narcissus in response to my comment I made sure to check it out. thumbs up to you sir.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Podcasting: The Film Podcast

Recording tonight for the film podcast, we're gonna be talking about the best of 2012....

one of my honorable mentions will be Iron Sky!

more to come>

Friday, January 25, 2013

Parker (2013)

... first off let me get this out there... I liked the film over all, Statham was good as Parker, I would put him behind Lee Marvin and Robert Duvall but ahead of the rest of the pack.... the over all cast was solid to excellent with Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Daniel Bernhardt, Bobby Cannavale and Emma Booth in fine supporting roles. 

The weak link? Jlo... it was like she was in a Dortmunder film rather than a Parker flick... it's not that she's bad on screen, it's that she's too light and comedic in her presence. She has done gritty before, but here she just can't carry it off. I would have loved to see an Elizabeth Perkins or a Dina Myers in her role... that said I wonder what it would have been like if she had played Claire? 

Solid plot, that I was with when it was driving forward like in the books, it was only when it got into J lo feeling sorry for herself and quipping that things started to drag. One interesting thought that came to me was, what if J Lo played Claire (as I already mentioned) or what if Chicklis was Parker? 

final grade? C+/ 7.00 I will check it out again on blu/DVD and want to hear a commentary track. I hope there is enough interest in the film to green light a follow up, maybe one where the film makers are able to take a stronger hand and play Parker with more grit.

(my car when I came out of seeing Parker)

Of course for all your Parker needs check:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

film discoveries of 2012...

 my top 5 film discoveries of 2012....

more to come....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 .... go !

Happy New Year.  I know that the restless kind has been the sleeping kind most of the last year, but my aim for 2013 is to post here more this year. 

To that end... looking forward to 2013 I am looking forward to the following films:

56 Up

Gangster Squad
ParkerA Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan IIIPacific Rim 

More to come...