Sunday, November 15, 2015

Just when I thought I was out....they rope me back in.

Well, I never said my blogging days were over entirely, and they're not. Drug Punk as such is done. It was part of an intensely nihilistic period for me that' I'm trying to walk away from. It served its purpose for awhile, in that some people heard about music, scenes, and experiences that they did not know of before. Or at least, I'd like to think so. For me, however, DrugPunk's originally joking but increasingly real ethos of being a fucked up, sneering loser was just getting too heavy, and it had to end.

Sometime in the next coupla months I'll be starting a new blog, untitled as yet. I'll still be doing reviews of current music, but will also write longer pieces on albums that, in my view, speak to the unstable crisis period we're living through globally and, I think, in our personal lives, some of us anyway. I might also do occasional pieces on books. Yes, books. Being a stoopid drunk ponx was a fun phase of my life at times but that pose has gotten real boring. So books.

Lots of you sent emails to me over the past year (2015) that have gone unanswered. I probably won't end up reading and replying to all of them, or even all of the personalized ones, but I'll try. I do apologize for abruptly pulling the plug on the project without replying to said emails or reviewing the music contained in them-at some point, the blog stopped being fun and became an unpaid job.

I had no interest in monetizing the blog and so I had to withdraw from it. A lot of the time in between has been devoted to cleaning the mirror and figuring out what I wanna do now that I've managed to make it to 30; writing about music's part of that, killing myself in the process, a la Lester Bangs, is definitely not (anymore).

One technical lesson I learned from the DrugPunk experience is to avoid doing reviews based on downloaded, or downloadable, files. Robert at Terminal Escape has an intelligent and clearly stated explanation that I'm happy to refer you to, regarding why zip files and such are a colossal pain in the ass from the reviewer's point of view. Furthermore, it makes it impossible to review a band's music if their zip files have expired or been removed; relying on mediafire or whateverthefuck to warehouse our music was a bad idea, as some of us found out care of "Lemaire", back in 2012.

So on the next project, I'll be referring largely to bandcamp pages or full albums posted on youtube. It's easier and more direct than fretting over whether a zip file loaded. Also, in a limited way, it doesn't contribute to the sort of academic, "my i-tunes library is bigger and more 'eclectic' [stupidest fucking word in American English at this point!] than yours" thinking that internet music culture breeds. I say that as someone who was sort of one of them until quite recently. In the future I wanna focus on the music and songs (and books)  and trying to make sense of where they fit with other stuff, not exhorting you to buy or download stuff.

Now, as John Lydon said, I'm getting rid of the albatross, and will be back, hopefully in a slightly more intelligent if not optimistic form, soon.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope that some of you will like what I produce in the future, assuming that project takes off. DrugPunk taught me a lot about "life", "the world" and all that jazz. It's been cool learning how many freaks, weirdos, dissidents, and subversives there are out there, all over the place.

Punk in its broadest sense has always been about refusing to do what your society, your elders and betters tell you to do, and I hope that, in a small way, I participated in knitting together some of these far-flung misfits. Yr great.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

For the record, ignorance and bigotry aren't cool, people

[wherein your humble narrator, having reached 30, does a late-period Lester Bangs move and contemplates his many sins done to the body politick by his youthful and spry self]

This blog's semi-moribund and I don't like getting involved in this sort of stuff usually, but, I thought I should say something about the whole Whirr transphobia thing, which I'm guessing most of you already know about; if not, the band Whirr tweeted stuff that seemed pretty transphobic re: a band called GLoss, which I've never heard and couldn't care less about.
What do I care about is stating clearly that acting and speaking like a bunch of ignorant bro dudes is not cool, it's not edgy, it's not offensive for the right reasons: it's simply fucking stupid. It's fine if you're "not into politics" and haven't read Judith Butler, it's not fine to be a chauvinistic shitbird. Whirr's a band I liked, and I've posted their stuff on this blog, so I had to take seriously peoples' demands that I stop listening to them, sabotage them any way possible, etc. (I've also never interacted with any members of the band in any way so none of this is based on firsthand experience, but info from people I trust). Public auto fa fes in which I demonstrate my punk orthodoxy aren't really my cup of tea, but after reading this post by a member of Des Ark, I figured I should say something since, in a minor way, this blog is what passes for my public presence in punk or indie or whateverthefuck.

What the Des Ark person identified is a real problem in any subculture claiming to exist as a egalitarian, accepting (different than simply tolerating) space for freaks and weirdoes of all kinds. Punk is that, and is not that, and the difference between espousing it and the reality is of course huge. That's an inherent part of the fact that we exist in a society that is structurally and systematically geared towards reproducing bigotry and puerile idiocy, and there's not much we can do about it, but we can do a few things, and they're mostly concerned with daily talk. Which I study professionally and lemme tell you, talking matters.

There's another important point at stake here: the difference between knowing that, say, the Rolling Stones are a bunch of misogynistic cock rockers and Whirr is, apparently, transphobic. That is, Jagger & the boys never for a moment were associated with or espoused any scene or movement standing for feminism and the insane idea that women, queer people, and all people etc. deserve to be treated equally. Whirr, while I know nothing, again, of their scene/personalities/whatever, at least has been associated with punk rock enough that I and a lot of my friends listened to them and promoted their music. There's a personal connection there that doesn't exist with Keith Richards et. al., and that connection brings responsibilities.

One thing I've learned over the past five years is that things you say can easily be misconstrued by other people, especially over social media, which largely is a game of posturing and appearance more than content. More importantly, comments you don't see as homophobic, racist, et. al. may in fact be so in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that you don't think they are. I've made many of these sorts of unintentionally boneheaded comments over the years, and I try not to; the difference I'm getting is between the theoretical anti[fillintheblank]ism that most of us unthinkingly subscribe to, versus the actual practice of everyday life, as Certeau said. Believing something like "transgendered people deserve respect" should be of significance in your speech and behavior in public, not a platitude you mouth 'cause Bernie Sanders said racism is bad or because Crass told you to.The persona I crafted in my reviews and rants was that of a nihilistic hedonist, but despite my generally irreverant attitude and a real disgust with the hidebound, doctrinaire quality of a lot of what passes as identity politics, this sort of thing matters: punk/indie/whateverthefuck was started by weirdoes for weirdoes, and bigotry shouldn't have any place in it.

I was talking with an old friend from Chicago awhile ago about the apolitical and rather passionately nihilistic bent of a lot of '00s hardcore, and how it was a reaction to the excessively PC and earnest straight edge/hardline days of the 1990s. We were positioned between these two dominant tendencies, and probably benefited from an unhealthy obsession with Crass Records & the undergrowth of British post-punk (that is, Gang of Four & the Mekons, not Death in June). Anyway, I usually take an irreverant leftism as a given when interacting with punks and most people, and it's taken me awhile to realize that you can't assume anything, especially given the breakdown of face-to-face interaction since we all (me too) live on our computers.

So the point, and i have one, is that things like rape, gender politics, etc. etc. may sound boring and mind-numbingly repetitive, if you grew up in the milieu I did and listened to too much Bikini Kill as a 13-year old, but these things must constantly be discussed if we're ever gonna do anything to end them. In the milieu I grew up in, we all took it as a given that everyone was a feminist/leftist/etc, and never really discussed personal or social politics in any considerable depth. Not only did this of course not stop us from probably being insufferable bourgeois pricks most of the time, but these sorts of tacit assumptions are dangerous precisely because it makes you less aware of the tremendous amount of unintentional-yet-real psychological and verbal violence is probably done to people you encounter every day with histories you don't know about, and this insensitivity is bad for everyone; this sort of focus on mundane decency was at the heart of George Orwell's best writing, his journalism. I guess what I mean is, if you can't clean the air around you of all the poison, at least try to not pollute it (much) yourself, if you can help it. It's like that paragon of righteousness Frank Underwood says in season 1 of House of Cards to the woman he'll later murder: "Words matter very much, Ms. Barnes...." Again, words and speech matter very much.

I know I sound like Ian MacKaye or a goddamn Gorilla Biscuits song here but I probably didn't do enough when this blog was current to make clear that my distaste with political earnestness was not the same as rejecting the positive aspects of punk, painfully self-earnest personal politics notwithstanding. I'm just as much of an asshole as everyone else and again, I'm surely guilty of the same sort of behavior that I'm condemning; the point from my perspective (different from that of bands like Des Ark that have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis) is not to say that I'm right or another person is wrong, but rather to try to remember that your thought-world isn't the same as that of other people, and if we want to live in anything worth calling a society, we have to start thinking about other peoples' backgrounds more, even if, like me, you mostly just wanna be left alone.

 Maybe it can all be boiled down to the simple fact that it's at least 50/50 odds that the people you interact with, in person or on social media, is probably having an even shittier day than you, and maybe some of the reasons for that have to do with massive, systematic structures of oppression and hatred.

So yeha, up with punk, down with bros, and just try not to be a jackass, folks.

-head jackass

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Jams I: Cold Forever

Well, I said I might be back at some point (like Jason Molina said before he checked out forever, for real, "I will be gone/but not forever"), so here's the first in a three-piece installment of tunes for getting drunk, getting high, fornicating, enjoying life, etc. True to my native perversity, this mix is mostly synth-pop and cold wave: not very summeresque, but don't worry. More summer-like mixes (each of which will become more and more unabashedly summer-esque until by August you're so fried on summertime sunshine that you could use some more of Ian Curtis' lyrics!) will follow in volumes one and two, for those of you who care. I'm including my always-brilliant, perpetually-effervescent commentary on the songs, 'cause whateverbigshitwhocaresletsgogetsunbuned!.

Get it here

Per usual, have fun (or not), kiddies. Blast some tunes, pop a beer, catch some sun, life ain't so bad:

1. T.V. Girl-I Don't Care (super nihilistic, super summer: "I smoke a pack of Reds and drink a six pack every day/I wanna stay sane and there ain't no other way!")
2. Keep Shelly in Athens-Cremona Memories (Syriza and the Greeks are in trouble now and have been for quite some time, but, as usual, they produce some great tunes anyway; requiescat in pace, Anestis Kostis!)
3. Blank Dogs-Another Language (I'm sure Blank Dogs ain't cool no more, but real drug punks disdain coolness and focus on whatever intoxicant is at hand. As some stupidhardcoreband said long ago, "charge ahead/charge ahead/we keep on fighting to the end!")
4. Naked on the Vague-Old Leader (Aussie synth savagery. Misery never sounded more relaxed.)
5. Dirty Beaches-Belgrade (unrelenting synth, an overpowering sense of anxiety, and Alex's haunted and haunting vocals, synth-driven, propulsive sadness hurtling towards the Danube)
6. Lust for Youth-Sickness (Scandinavian. Scandinavians, as far as I understand it, have a real health care system, so who the fuck knows what's going on with them.)
7. Thorir Georg-Skiptir Engu (Even more remote than the continental Scandi countries, Iceland not only has health care but ACTUALLY SENT BANKERS TO JAIL FOR THEIR CRIMES. Sounds like Mars? Yeah, 'cause it is, and their minimal synth is pretty rad, too!)
8. Rosenkopf-Troth (They're (are/were?) from New York or at least claim NYC status, so who knows what to make of them until they do something outrageous enough to have some dipshit from Village Voice do a feature on them [no, I didn't ask Google if there is an interview with the VV).
9. Carol-So Low (This very well might be the sound of austerity closing its warm, seductive, suffocating hand across your throat as the EU strangles the life outta ya-er, they're Belgian.)
10. Joy Division-Something Must Break (demo version)-(yeah JoyDiv bigdealsowhat. But how many of you fuckers would know about half of the music you pride yourselves on knowing about without having first discovered JD's Unknown Pleasures? That's right, none of you and me neither, so we could all use some more Joy Division!).
11. RZA-Ghost Dog Theme-(No comment, much respect. RZA matched or beat Jarmusch here. Brilliant soundtrack for a brilliant film.)
12. Fausto Amodei-Non 'e finita a Piazza Loreto (Because I have to include some sort of overtly commie propaganda here. It's also a pretty good minimal keyboard piece too, though....As a friend said a long, long time ago of The Majestic Arrows, "sit alone and cry to this raw shit".).
13. Makis Prekkas-Morocco (Minimal synth from before Greece was famous for debt instead of all the classical/philosophical/etc. stuff. Anxiety and dread seep through Prekkas' work, and those emotions are much more appropriate to the capitalist apocalypse that is Greece than pride, anyway)
14. Mushy-Kshetrajna (Italian-Ethiopian/Eritrean lady makes some dope minimal dronesynth. Dig it.)
15. Popol Vuh-Gemeinschaft (needs no introduction)

The attached picture was taken in Italy, "3 summers, .and a thousand years ago," as Peachy Carnahan says to Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would be King). Or, as Slim Charles says in The Wire (season 4), "Yeah, well, life's strange."

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"and I said 'hello Satan/I believe it's time to go.....'"-Robert Johnson, ca. 1937

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ciao, ragazzi!

After 3 years or so, I'm pulling the plug on this blog. 2014 was the year I realized I'd never really get caught up on all the stuff I'm supposed to review, and 2015 promises to have even less free time in store for yours truly to blather about music. I think I've had a good run, and it's over. Pink Reason and Dirty Beaches, two of my favorite recent bands, called it quits in 2013/2014 and I'll take that as an omen and get out while the going's good. I did three interviews (Kevin from Pink Reason, Matt from Kitchen's Floor, and The Wizard from Terminal Escape), reviewed a bunch of stuff-some good, some great, some decidedly less so-and in general I've hollered and whined in my online backalley long enuf.

I'll continue to occasionally re-up some of the music I've posted, and will respond to emails requesting that; same goes for the Alone & Forsaken mixtape series. I may at some future point get DrugPunk fired up again but for now I'm kidding myself to think I want to, or can, keep this thing going further.

I apologize to everyone to whom I gave assurances that I'd eventually review their music. I wanna thank all of youse guyse for reading this blog over the years, and especially those of you who I've exchanged commiserations, scene information, and other sundry bits of knowledge (y'all know who you are). Keep your heads up, and drink a beer for me.