Darkthrone — Panzerfaust: While this one is not considered as much of a black metal classic (by hardcores at least) as A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Transylvanian Hunger, or Under a Funeral Moon, I always go back to this album for it’s over the top homage to Celtic Frost. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto shifted from being necro and underground to being just over the top heavy and aggressive. And you can still hear the huge influence this album, along with the previous three discs, had on Phil Anselmo’s Superjoint Ritual (which stole its name from “The Pagan Winter” on A Blaze in the Northern Sky).
Monty Python’s Flying Circus — Monty Python’s Previous Record: I’ve been on a bit of a Monty Python kick after watching the six episode “Almost the Truth” documentary and starting to read through Michael Palin’s diaries from the Python Years. I recently digitized all of my Monty Python vinyl and this one still stands out as my favorite. Mostly because the new material written for the record is so damn funny, including “Embarrassment” and “Australian Table Wines.” Also, this one is a nice improvement over the first album, released by the BBC (and the only record the Python’s don’t own the rights to), which was recorded live in front of a very lethargic audience.
Miles Davis — Miles Smiles: For some reason, I never quite ‘got’ the second Miles Davis quintet. Maybe it was because it lead into Miles fusion period which took me a while to get into as well. Or perhaps it was because the second quintet with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter stood in the shadow of the first great quintet with John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Cannonball Adderley. Regardless, at some point, this album finally clicked for me, and every once in a blue moon I go back to it, usually in winter for some reason — maybe it’s the complexity of the compositions. There is a great energy to this lineup, especially in Tony Williams drumming and Herbie Hancock’s fluid-yet-complex playing style which I grow more in awe of over the years. “Circle” still ranks up there with my favorite tracks by Miles.
Dishammer — Vintage Addiction: After hearing Dishammer’s split 7″ with the Warwolves, I scored this gem on vinyl from Hell’s Headbangers (via Parasitic Records mail order). So much heavy d-beat goodness here. Four Spaniards channeling all their love of Motörhead, Discharge, and Entombed into one stellar album. Most of the songs clock in at 2 minutes or less, with only a few stretching to what would be considered epic for Dishammer at 3-4 minutes. There’s no letup. Dishammer just pummels you with pure hypercharged energy one song after another.
Having been born and raised in New Jersey, I’m often asked by non-Jersians, “What was it like?” I usually get odd stares when I respond with, “Like the circus left town.”
There is a sadness to New Jersey. If you’ve lived there you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to see past the state borders. Things outside of New Jersey just don’t seem possible. Maybe that is why, too often, people never leave New Jersey. They usually wind up just staying put, residing two towns over from where they grew up, still hanging out with the same high school friends. As they get older, their worldview may expand, but often it’s too late. New Jersey has them. To leave it all behind would be to rip themselves from the womb. I was lucky enough to leave when I was 18. Looking back on those that didn’t, I realized that was the sadness of New Jersey: being trapped in place that never offered much promise to begin with. Seeing it now, it always feels like the circus just left town, a pale memory of it drifting down the turnpike.
That sense of sadness is all over Alex Austin’s The Red Album of Asbury Park. It is in the setting: Springsteen-land in the late 1960s, a once thriving seaside getaway, now a rundown hulk of decaying buildings, degenerates, dive bars, thieves, decrepit amusements, gangsters, and junkies. (Go there now and you’ll see not much has changed, except the amusements are gone). It is also in the main character. Vet Sam Nesbitt has just come back from Vietnam. He’s one of the lucky ones. The horrors of war have given him a worldview that goes beyond Ocean Avenue. He wants out. He wants to make something of himself, to escape the ghosts of days past, and not become another lost cause walking the streets of Asbury Park. That’s more than once can say of his binge-drinking mother, his deceased father (who had his own secrets), and his unmotivated brother (or perhaps just motivated in the wrong directions). Continue reading →
I have officially started on book #2. Without giving away any details, one of the main characters in the book is everyone’s favorite mischief maker and all around swinging guy, Satan. The idea for the book actually came to me one morning while listening to “Up Jumped the Devil” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Those pounding piano chords, Cave’s voice growling at that low register, the overall vibe of the dark one lurking mischievously up the street — the plot of the book laid itself out instantly in my head.
On the rare occasions when I do finally plop my ass in the chair to tap away at the keyboard, I always listen to music. Some folks find this odd as they usually require peace and quiet when writing. But I prefer to have music blaring, preferably something that gets me in the mood of the story. When I wrote The Love Book, I listened to really heavy Doom: Black Sabbath, Cathedral, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, St. Vitus, Grand Magus, Candlemass, Trouble. The music fit the dark stories I was firing out. Continue reading →