Thursday, November 21, 2013

MUSIC REVIEW: Cave, "Threace"

Threace [Drag City

Let's just call Threace what it is. It's Jazz Fusion. That tag may have bad connotations in some people's little minds and maybe it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth, but this is the heavy kind of funk and jazz meld that you used to hear drifting out of that dorm room at the end of hall (all mixed in with pot smoke filtered through a rolled up towel which smelled like bong water anyway.)

Like I said, Threace joins, or fuses, elements of rock, jazz and funk to create the five songs on this album. Now that we're all past that, let me tell you that I am no spelunker, but my past experience tells me that this is a much tighter and focused record for CAVE. They seem to have drifted further away from the drone and the psychedelic aspects of their earlier output. Maybe that has to do with the departure of their keyboard player and the addition of a second guitarist, or maybe it has to do with natural progression, or maybe both.

"Sweaty Fingers" is an extended opening exercise that kicks up and breaks down and kicks off again. "Arrow's Myth" is a bitch's brew of that funky stuff I was just talking about back a minute ago. "Shikaakwa" is just a bad-ass track with hypno-tizmic flute and funky repetition. "Silver Headband," is CAVE doing the kind of music that earned them all the CAN and Krautrock nods scant weeks and months ago. It has the drone, the unrelenting rhythm and the crunch of distorted guitars that break things up when things need to get heavy in the middle.

Listen to this just a little too loud. That's it. Review over. Thanks—Chris Auman

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: God is Disappointed in You

Written by Mark Russell
Cartoons by Shannon Wheeler

I have finally read the bible. Praise, Jesus! My first attempt at reading this book was abandoned pretty early—like midway through Genesis early. I quickly became hopelessly bored after the 200th "begat". A few years ago, thanks to R. Crumb, I did make it through Genesis, but even that was no walk in the garden, so to speak. It is probably not surprising either, that after roughly 15 years of forced church going, I was pretty close to being totally ignorant of just what the heck went on in this book. (Some pretty crazy shit is what the heck.) Now before you get too proud of me, let me just say that I didn't actually read the whole unabridged version of the Bible, but I did read the pithy 200 plus pages of Mark Russell's God is Disappointed in You and that counts. While this Mark Russell is certainly a satirist, he is not the piano playing political comedian, Mark Russell, you may be thinking of. No, this Mark Russell is actually funny (sorry other Mark Russell).

God is Disappointed in You boils down the essence of each and every book of the Bible, Old and New, into small digestible morsels. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, and yes, by the very fact that it exists, it is irreverent, but it's the good kind of irreverence, not the sacrilegious, blasphemous variety. It's more like a gentle, good-natured ribbing to remind us what ridiculousness appears in these allegorical tales. It doesn't read like an atheist's jab at the Christian tenets of faith. The Richard Dawkins version would be very different, and humorless. This is just a lighthearted romp through hundreds of years of blood, gore, enslavement and miscellaneous human suffering. Whether you’re a fan of religion (this one or that one), a skeptical atheist or a wishywashy agnostic, whether you are Pat Robertson or  Bill Maher,  this is simply a hilarious book that keeps the morality intact. (More so the New Testament, the O.T. is just bananas, quite frankly.)

The cartoon illustrations were provided by Shannon Wheeler, whose work you may recognize from the New Yorker and his long running Too Much Coffee Man series.

Chris Auman

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