The Importance of Being Metal: Motley Crue-Too Fast For Love

1981; Hit City West, Los Angeles; Leathur Records

1. Is It Any Good?

I'm not going to lie to you: I've been putting off this entry of The Importance of Being Metal for a reason. Here's a quote from the very first installment of this series:

"...[Motley Crue is] sort of like a parallel-version of Guns 'n Roses, in that instead of being the kind of trashy guys that pee off the roof, punch cops and basically make kickass parties, they're the sort of dudes who'll fuck the drunk girl on the couch when she's passed out. And then puke on her."

Do you know the significance of that quote? The significance is that it shows that I think that Motley Crue sucks, in a big way. For the most part, I still do.

Fuckin' A, man, did you read that last bit? "For the most part". What does that mean? Yeah, you know what that means, don't pretend you don't. Here's the worst thing ever, and I'm about to type it:

Too Fast For Love, an album by Motley Crue, is not actually that bad. It's sort of good.

Wow, I think I just disowned myself.

Here are the bullet points:

  • The bass is really consistent throughout, giving most of the songs a nice stomp.
  • The lyrics are ridiculous a lot of the time, but honestly? They're no more ridiculous than a lot of Rolling Stones lyrics a lot of the time, also.
  • "Live Wire" fucking rips.
  • "Merry-Go-Round" is catchy.
  • "Come On and Dance" is an awesome strip-club song.
  • "On With the Show" is just cheesy enough to work.
  • Vince Neil's voice is endearing, if not actually good.
Here's the crux of the matter, I think: This album was completely self-financed. While later albums had a completely obvious, repulsively superficial sheen to them that rocked about as hard as a cat with osteoporosis, this one was made by a bunch of young, sleezy assholes who quite honestly didn't have a Goddamn clue about what they were doing. While every other album they made could be described the same way, this is the only one that really keeps that spirit of authenticity, that swagger that says "I'm drunk, I'm horny, let's fuck and can I sleep at your place, I left my keys in Tyler's car". It's as far from necessary as you can imagine and it has close to no staying power, but it's more than possible to squeeze some fun out of Too Fast For Love.

I should qualify by saying that this is still not really a "good" album, per se. Most of the album drags along, and even the stuff that doesn't is offensively stupid. When you've got lyrics like "When she laughs, she's got the power of a child in her eyes/And when you cry, now/She'll hold you like a man's supposed to be held", well...a good bassline doesn't really help that. See the cover? This album sounds like that cover. That's the problem of the whole thing, is that you're never unaware of what you're listening to, and it makes you feel like a jackass. In a very real way you do kind of get stupider listening to this music, and I'm not sure if that's worth a few good anthems.

If there was ever an album that needed a "proceed with caution" label attached to it, it's this one. Like the cheap sex and cocaine that it talks about, Too Fast For Love's pleasures are fleeting, and like the above mentioned vices as well, when it's over you might either feel like you have a disease or like you need to get your stomach pumped. That said, it's not a completely unrewarding venture, and if you're feeling brave it might be worth checking out just to add a few songs to your workout playlist.

2. Is It "Influential"?

I think it was one of the albums that spearheaded the glam metal movement. So in that regard, fuck this album completely, and forever.

3. Is It A Good Entry Point For Beginners?

That's tough to say, because even though it's definitely accessible, it's also extremely grating at points, and as you may have been able to figure out, it's completely retarded in every way. Vince Neil also sounds like a baby sometimes, and that'll probably piss you off no matter how entrenched in the genre you are. Best to help a newbie sidestep this one, just to be sure.



My Top 50 Songs of the ‘00s

Short intro: Name’s Stephen, aspiring music columnist, lapsed political scientist and cynical young space cadet, A.K.A. The Artist Also Known As The Shotgun Rhetoric and also the asshole that drunkenly punted your garden gnome through your car’s window last night.

Smug little bitch had it coming.

Yeah, yeah, I know this list is at least a couple of months overdue. Chalk it up to either a) perfectionism or b) total fucking sloth on my part. Either way, I’ve longed to come up with yet another big, unwieldy list of hyperbolic raving that I will probably disagree with in two months*, and figure this would be a fine debut on this here page.

*The first list was rumination on Rolling Stone’s truly fuckawful Top 100 Best Albums list on another forum that took two years for me to complete, so be lucky you’re getting the Cliff Notes version this time.

These selections are purely stream of consciousness order. Links included where available (some are lame fan videos so be warned):

1. At The Drive-In- “Enfilade” (Relationship of Command, 2000)


Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez would later start discovering their stacks of Dadaist poetry and unlistenable ‘70s Miles records and turn into rambling douchenozzles, but in At The Drive-In existed perhaps the best heirs to Fugazi’s post-hardcore legacy. Hard-hitting, obscure, dynamic, experimental, and yes, catchy as hell (“FRIEGHT TRAIN COMING!”), “Enfilade” takes its kidnapping narrative and laces it with dissonant guitar squall, a charging rhythm and eerie, evocative lines like “In basements we will hide, amnesia in our alibis.” ATDI reunion now, plz.

2. Clutch- “The Mob Goes Wild” (Blast Tyrant, 2004)


It takes a mighty feat to make that most annoyingly trendy staple of protest music (i.e. anti-Bush song circa 2004) tolerable to my ears. Neil Fallon’s thunderous pipes work wonders, as do lines like “Condoleezza Rice is nice but I prefer a-Roni.” No one has perfected blues boogie and electrified it the way Clutch has, tailor made for producing big shit-eating grins while running out of body parts to shake, bang or tap. This one song is worth more than a stack of NOFX, Anti Flag and Green Day albums combined.

3. Mastodon- “Blood & Thunder” (Leviathan, 2003)


Speaking of Neil Fallon… his cameo on this raging Mastodon anthem is an easy album highlight (“BREAK YOUR BACKS AND CRACK YOUR OARS MEN”). But that doesn’t take away from the rest of this storming opener, with that iconic, snaking riff and Brann Dailor utterly destroying his drumkit for four minutes. Hearing this song pretty much obliterates any doubts you may have about metalizing Moby Dick.

4. The Flaming Lips- “One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21” (Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, 2003)


A quiet and evocative meditation on robots becoming self-aware, Wayne Coyne’s Oklahoma twang floats effortlessly over a musical backdrop that builds on the band’s previous work The Soft Bulletin, with a steady electronic pulse and drone dissolving into fragile beauty. The anthemic “Fight Test” lured me into the bizarre concept of this ‘Lips opus; this song got me for good.

5. Godspeed You! Black Emperor- “Sleep” (Shake Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, 2000)



There’s something about the way that old man’s voice breaks when he says “They don’t sleep anymore on the beach” that is just heartbreaking. I know. I’m a sap. The rest of the track (seems kinda hard to call something that runs 23 minutes with no vocals a “song”) is the most emotional thing they’ve done since “The Dead Flag Blues” from F#A(infinity). The movement starting at around 6:45 and culminating in a torrent of weeping guitars and strings makes this double album worth the price of admission all by itself.

6. Boris- “Woman on The Screen” (Pink, 2005)


If obnoxious Naruto-watching weeaboos had discovered Boris, the world would be a better place. This song, and album, fuses doom metal, shoegaze, punk and good ol’ fashioned RAWK with so much colon-stomping win that even asshole ironic t-shirt sporting Williamsburg hipsters had to pay respect. And to state the obvious, I want Wata to bear my children.

7. McLusky- “To Hell With Good Intentions” (McLusky Do Dallas, 2001)


Okay, forget my rambling for a second and just watch that video. Snarky Welsh motherfuckers? Check. Ear-bleeding Albini-influenced noise rock blasted at 747-flyover volume? Check. And an audience of screaming teenage girls? Check. If the world needed proof that Britain has better taste than we do, this pretty much seals the deal.

8. Portishead- “The Rip” (Third, 2008)


Seeing as trip-hop has largely been a dead scene since the early ‘00s, you wouldn’t be all too surprised that Portishead would sound different after ten years of separation. What you didn’t expect was for it to be this good. Abandoning the urban noir of Dummy for an even darker and lusher trip into hypnotic guitar, cascading acoustic drums and thick analog synth enveloping Beth Gibbons’ ghostly wail, Portishead have basically gone Kid A. And it works, dammit. It really works.

9. Tool- “Lateralus” (Lateralus, 2001)


Yeah, yeah, Fibonacci Sequences and whatever. You can have your Fibonacci Sequences, you pseudointellectual windbags. All I care about is how this nine-minute epic ROCKS in an exotic, progtastic way that no Dream Theater wankfest of the same (or any) length would dream of approaching. This also has some of the best usage of bass in a metal song. It’s so entrancing that you almost forget about Adam Jones’ guitar, Danny Carey’s drumming or whatever the hell Maynard’s singing about. Well, at least the last one.

10. Tom Waits- “Hoist That Rag” (Real Gone, 2004)


A big rebound after the lame Island years pastiche Tom closed out the ‘90s with (Mule Variations). Take note, Dylan and Springsteen—this is how artists should approach their 60s, breaking fresh ground instead of boring retreads and stagnation. Hell, this album even has fucking turntables (!) and beatboxing (!!), and yet the flavor is still unmistakably Waits. However “Hoist That Rag” takes the Latin stylings of past Waits classics like “Tango ‘til They’re Sore” and adds a few new layers of grit. Imagine the voice of Howlin’ Wolf in the middle of a Cuban street band and you have some idea of what you’re in for.

11. Fantomas- “The Godfather” (Director’s Cut, 2001)


This cover is definitive proof that the inclusion of Mike Patton, King Buzzo, and Dave Lombardo make awesome things about ten times moreso.

12. The Black Keys- “When The Lights Go Out” (Rubber Factory, 2004)


Why this duo continues to live in the shade of the good, but VASTLY overrated White Stripes boggles my mind to no end. Nevermind the two-piece gimmick, Auerbach and Carney play down ‘n’ dirty, smoky blues rawk the way it was meant to be played. That guitar sound is straight off the Mississippi delta circa 1953. Sublime.

13. Meshuggah- “I” (-I- EP, 2004) [no good video out there for this one]

Yes, this EP is just one 21-minute track, and if a better assertion of this Swedish band’s utter supremacy exists it hasn’t been released yet. This isn’t so much a technical death metal album as it is a trip into mechanized Hell, a brutal Terminator death march razing the face of the Earth, with Jens Kidman’s intimidating roar leading the ranks. Tomas Haake drums in time signatures so alien you’d think we haven’t evolved enough limbs to play them yet.

14. Modest Mouse- “Life Like Weeds” (The Moon & Antarctica, 2000)


Elegiac ruminations on death and mortality come naturally to Isaac Brock, and I think that this is one of his best. Nothing overwrought, nothing maudlin or bogged in angst, just a simple and haunting examination of life’s regrets and our last moments on Earth before “all this talkin’ all the time until the air fills up, up, up until there’s nothing left to breathe, up until there’s nothing left to speak, up until the better parts of space.”

15. Melvins- “Civilized Worm” ((A) Senile Animal, 2006)


After screwing around for the better part of a decade or so, the Melvins’ 1999 “trilogy” of records on Ipecac (Maggot/Bootlicker/Crybaby) showed signs of promise. Well, that promise was fulfilled after a few MORE years of fucking about, when Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover replaced Eric Rutmanis (this band has gone through bassists like Spinal Tap has drummers) and simply absorbed fellow Pacific Northwest compatriots Big Business to unleash a long-awaited followup to their much-beloved ‘90s Atlantic albums. “Civilized Worm” is like nothing else they’ve put out to date, a downright melodic midtempo stomper with the indomitable Buzzo and new bassist Jared Warren harmonizing (!) over a killer twin drumming attack. It could even be played on “classic rock” stations a decade or so down the road without making waves, but it’s still unmistakably Melvins. And completely awesome.

16. Cannibal Ox- “A B-Boy’s Alpha” (The Cold Vein, 2002)


The music being put out this decade from the Def Jux roster has really made the vast majority of commercial hip-hop sound like wet shit, and this song is no exception. El-P pushes the art of hip-hop production to its ragged edge with backdrops that sound like space stations exploding yet rooted to terra firma with unmistakably massive hip-hop beats, over which Vast Aire and Vordul Megalla drop rugged and autobiographical rhymes. “My mother said you sucked my pussy when you came out/ Don't ever talk back, I handled your life and I'll snatch it back/ I'm just a latch key kid wit a snotty nose/ High school drop out, space I'm around need white-out.”

17. Burial- “Archangel” (Untrue, 2007)


Take Massive Attack’s chilled beats, soulful singing hooks, and dark moodiness circa Mezzanine and distill it down to its core essence, and you have this song. The perfect selection for cruising down faintly lit and empty New York streets alone at 3 AM, the disembodied voice of an R&B singer asking over and over “Can I trust you?” a fitting statement of cold isolation.

18. Electric Wizard- “We Hate You” (Dopethrone, 2000)


Heavier and more plodding than African elephants carrying grand pianos filled with cement, this monolithic track doesn’t so much come out of your speakers as it slowly pounds your sound system with roaring subsonic frequencies to a bloody freaking pulp, leaving your eardrums shattered and your room filled with a dense fog of cannabis smoke. The Holy Grail of stoner metal? Fuck. Yes.

19. MGMT- “Kids” (Oracular Spectacular, 2009)


After a dismal decade of endless media saturation, wars on TV and crashing economies, even my curmudgeonly self will take perfectly formed expressions of joy wherever I can find them, and this fits the bill to a T. That gloriously simple synth line and overall infectiousness makes “Kids” the musical equivalent of crack rock cured in nicotine and soaked in opium.

20. Madvillain- “Figaro” (Madvillainy, 2003)


Though producer Madlib does drop a most excellent smoky beat on this (and through the rest of the album), this song is solely noteworthy for having one of the sickest flows of any rap song dropped in the ‘00s this side of Ghostface, courtesy of the Masked Villain himself. Listen to the latter half of that verse and try to dispute MF DOOM’s claim that he’s “the best MC with no chain you ever heard.” Grimy as hell.

21. Battles- “Tonto” (Mirrored, 2007)


Math rock this well executed and catchy only comes along every once in a while, and while prog nerds may immediately peg this as sounding very ‘80s King Crimson, how is that in any way, shape or form a bad thing? From the (thankfully spare) processed chipmunk vocals to the holistic approach to groove and intertwined melodies, this is truly progressive art rock without most of the obnoxious cliches associated with the form. Plus I wholeheartedly endorse anything to do with ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier.

22. Wilco- “Jesus etc.” (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002)


One hears the line about “Tall buildings shake, voices escape singing sad sad songs” and can’t help but think of 9/11, but this sublimely beautiful song is a lot more universal than that. The elegant plucked and sweeping strings, gently melancholic steel guitars and Jeff Tweedy’s assuring voice lend this a bittersweet and graceful, not maudlin air that will stand the test of time.

23. Baroness- “The Sweetest Curse” (Blue Album, 2009)


Often unfairly dismissed as Mastodon’s little brother, fellow Georgia metalheads Baroness frankly deserve far more acclaim as I think the Blue Album cleanly blows anything Mastodon has done since Leviathan out of the water (lol ocean pun). This song is the perfect fusion of glorious Thin Lizzy-esque guitar harmonies, thundering sludgy intensity and majestic gravelly pipes. If these guys don’t get famous I will cry manly tears.

24. Johnny Cash- “I Hung My Head” (American IV, 2003)


Yes, “Hurt” is amazing and was a fine note for The Man In Black to go out on, but this cut from the very same album is a real revelation—few artists embody the themes of death, judgment and repentance like Cash did in his withered but still sturdy baritone, and his ownership of “I Hung My Head” is so complete it took me YEARS to even believe that this was a fucking Sting cover of all things.

25. Converge- “Last Light” (You Fail Me, 2004)


Perfectly obliterating the raw, creepy atmosphere established by the one-minute solo guitar of “First Light,” this song is three minutes of pure rushing adrenaline lead by Jacob Bannon’s unrivaled feral scream, and a live staple for good reason. If Bannon’s proclamation of “This is for the hearts still beating” isn’t fucking riveting, check your pulse. Converge wrote the book on American metalcore, and after four masterful albums in one decade, all full of songs like this, they are the uncontested kings.

26. The Avalanches- “Frontier Psychiatrist” (Since I Left You, 2000)


I haven’t heard so many awesomely utilized samples since… well, no, not even DJ Shadow’s Entroducing used this many. If you’re a turntablist, you’ve probably given up somewhere around the fourth minute. Fucking brilliant.

27. Immortal Technique- “Obnoxious” (Vol 2, 2003)


Yeah, Immortal Tech probably has better, more politically relevant songs, but I can’t find a more characteristically brutal, ruthlessly offensive and darkly hilarious one than “Obnoxious.” Say what you will about the man’s openly Communist politics, but the line “Run through Little Havana yelling ‘VIVA FIDEL!’” is hands down the most awesome punchline ever, and his panning of today’s lame hip-hop scene hasn’t lost an ounce of truth in the age of ringtone homunculi like Soulja Boy.

28. Radiohead- “Reckoner” (In Rainbows, 2007)


It took forever for me to really listen to post-Kid A Radiohead, I thought that OK Computer (overrated though it is) was pretty much as good as it got for them and Kid A and later albums were just a half-assed Eno/Aphex Twin pastiche about as lively as wallpaper. I expected to say the same things of In Rainbows, but “Reckoner” basically took all my preconceptions and tossed them out the window. Sure, it’s languorous, it’s slow, it does not rock—but for once there is a spark of life, in the form of that great crashing drumline and even Thom’s voice no longer sounds half asleep. The single bent-note guitar, the gentle washes of strings… goddamn beautiful this is, I don’t care.

29. Agalloch- “…And the Great Cold Death of the Earth” (The Mantle, 2002)


Agalloch is often referred to as a metal band, but that’s only true in a very nominal sense of the term. Yes, there are distorted guitars, and vocalist Haughm sometimes sings in a snakelike rasp, but the delicacy and epic arrangements of their songs, along with the extensive use of acoustic guitar, orchestral instruments like bells and kettle drums, and bowed upright bass are more like prog or post-rock than anything else. Exquisitely paced, atmospheric and evocative of the mountainous, cold and desolate Pacific Northwest landscape the band hails from.

30. Coalesce- “Wild Ox Moan” (OX, 2009)


Yes, that is twangy country stomp directly juxtaposed with the most vicious, rhythmically challenging hardcore you’ve ever heard. This band took over eight years to get back in a recording studio, they only recorded about 50 minutes of new material, and yet I could not be fucking happier. Sean Ingram’s voice hasn’t lost an ounce of venom, and after the first 50 seconds the guitars cut flesh with the best of them. This mashes Hatebreed and other unimaginative girl pants-wearing hXc bands to a fine paste and pisses on the remains.

31. Hot Snakes- “If Credit’s What Matters I’ll Take Credit” (Automatic Midnight, 2000) [no video]

Anyone lamenting the breakup of unsung yet excellent ’90 post-hardcore band Drive Like Jehu but thought they were missing a little of related outfit Rocket From the Crypt’s swagger will surely find this song, featuring John Reis on guitar from the latter band, to be about seven shades of fucking awesome. All the necessary elements—paint-peeling ferocity, fist-tight rhythms, and Rick Froeberg—wrapped up in two and a half minutes of jagged greatness. It’s a shame they broke up a few albums later.

32. Today Is The Day- “Butterflies” (Sadness Will Prevail, 2002)


Whoa. Whoooaaaaaa. I… I… this is terrifying as all shit. Imagine the soundtrack of Charles Manson’s head on some serious drugs and you have some concept of how Steve Austin’s brainchild operates, but this is pretty out there even by his twisted standards. One part metal, three parts noise, and all of it just fucking insane. Think Wolf Eyes is extreme? “Butterflies” will haunt you for life, and I mean that in the best way possible.

33. Murder By Death- “Theme for Ennio Morricone” (Red of Tooth & Claw, 2008)


I have a huge soft spot for Spaghetti Western auteur Sergio Leone and Morricone’s amazing scores, and apparently so do Murder By Death---this great instrumental from the Indiana band could not be a better thank you note to the famous Italian composer. “Epic” is not enough of an adjective to describe how grandiose this song is. I feel like Clint Eastwood every time I put this on, and needless to say that is a big fucking endorsement.

34. Pelican- “Lost In The Headlights” (City of Echoes, 2007)


Sometimes you just feel like “fuck lyrics.” This is what you put on. There are plenty of post-metal bands that are good at their craft, but most of them don’t make the very existence of a vocalist superfluous. Pelican does.

35. Khanate- “Commuted” (Things Viral, 2003)



I made the mistake of putting this on my iPod for work one day. In the middle of yet another dreary afternoon of data entry, all of a sudden “Commuted” comes on. Typing halts, time comes to a standstill, the room gets colder, the lights dim and from the moment Alan Dubin’s utterly evil shrieks and the endlessly droning bass start, I have no memory of anything else. 20 minutes later, I claw my way out of the Abyss to find my iPod’s batteries dead. True story.

36. Beirut- “Nantes” (The Flying Club Cup, 2007)


There’s something romantic and elegant about Zach Condon’s take on modern Old World fusion/gyspy/indie/whatever that makes it a lot more appealing to me than say, Gogol Bordello or Devotchka (those bands are good, don’t get me wrong, but the Borat Sings! novelty can be a little grating after a while). “Nantes” is no exception. The classic organ, the clever use of brass and percussion, and Condon’s world-weary voice all make for an exceptional brew that I will gladly drink in all day long.

37. Lovage- “Stroker Ace” (Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By, 2001)


Jennifer Charles is as fucking hot as her voice is. Yes, it’s possible. Watch that vid. Patton or no Patton, this track is pimp beyond words.

38. Candiria- “Without Water” (300 Percent Density, 2001)


To say Candiria are rap-metal would be greatly oversimplifying, as they took that most hated of genres and reinvented it in their own image with a big infusion of NYC-style hardcore and jazz fusion and not an ounce of “nu” in evidence. “Without Water” combines Carley Coma’s genuinely skilled rapping and a series of twisted rhythms and bull-in-a-china-shop riffs with a natural ease that makes Limp Bizkit and Korn look like the talentless pieces of shit that they are. Fellow NYC crossover pioneers Biohazard would be proud.

39. Bat for Lashes- “Glass” (Two Suns, 2009)


Okay, I for one fucking hate “freak folk,” and I don’t hear any of that here, so I’m not sure how the label got affixed to one Natasha Khan. All I can say is that this is exquisite crystalline pop of the highest order, with juxtaposition between angelic, graceful vocals and a driving, percussive and exotic beat that makes me melt in a way that no one else has accomplished since Bjork’s Homogenic.

40. Squarepusher- “Tetra-Sync” (Ultravisitor, 2004)


Tom Jenkinson is an electronic musician that places heavy emphasis on the “musician” part, and evidence of that can be found all over this juicy nine-minute showcase, loaded to the gills with manic snares (both live and programmed), superhuman bass guitar riffs and icy, melodic synths. “Intelligent dance music” is an awfully self-indulgent moniker, but Squarepusher embodies prog-electronica without pretense.

41. Nick Cave- “O Children” (Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, 2004)


Incorporating full gospel choirs in rock music is usually the province of pompous, hyperearnest assclowns like Bono and Sting, but damn if Nick Cave doesn’t pull it off perfectly here with this truly haunting song about children headed to the gulags, of all things. Normally Nick delves into the macabre and grim with relish, but here there are hints of remorse and fear in his sinuous croon. Such a sincere, heavy approach to the topic shouldn’t work with Cave. It does.

42. Antlers- “Wake” (Hospice, 2009)


Yes, everyone likes “Two” and for good reason, but I cannot resist a good dirge, and fuck me if this isn’t the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long time. When Peter Silberman, in the voice of the grieving protagonist, exhorts “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you deserve that” over and over and the somber ghostly choir and choked sobs fall away to a huge wave of angelic sound backed by martial drums, resistance is completely futile.

43. Isis- “So Did We” (Panopticon, 2004)


While Oceanic is a better album as a whole than Panopticon, “So Did We” takes the peaks of that entire album and expertly jams them into the space of seven and a half minutes that just fly by, from a opening best described as being suspended within the eye of a hurricane transitioning to an expanse of reverb-drenched ambience that slowly culminates in an absolutely devastating climax; all the while staying thoroughly metal. Aaron Turner’s vocals, where present, are a force of nature, another instrument in the onslaught whether screamed or sung. Look up “epic post-metal” and you won’t find a better definition than “So Did We.”

44. Death From Above 1979- “Black History Month” (You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, 2004)


Do I really have to explain the appeal of this most excellent slab of dance punk? It’s such an infectious guilty pleasure, thumping bass, effortlessly cool vocal, cowbell and all. DANCE MOTHERFUCKERS!

45. High On Fire- “The Face of Oblivion” (Blessed Black Wings, 2005)


Out of the recent spawn of retro-styled metal bands, there are some truly excellent entries—The Sword injects Sabbath with a big dose of creatine, Lair of the Minotaur takes Remission-era Mastodon and cranks the Slayer knob to 11, and Skeletonwitch channels Bay Area-era thrash with a dash of black metal necrosis. High On Fire however might even surpass this esteemed company, their Celtic Frost/Sabbath/Motorhead worship combined with some fantastic songwriting (seriously, listen to that clean break around the four-minute mark) and the kind of genuine, dirtied-up brutal riffage and vocals courtesy of Sleep alumni Matt Pike that would do their primordial ancestors proud.

46. El-P- “Up All Night” (I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, 2007)


This is punk rap in trademark El-P fashion—caustic, assaultive, witheringly sarcastic, delivered under three minutes and aimed squarely at the powers that be (Bush, pop radio, what have you). Proof that you can be hard as fuck without mentioning your Glock. If Jello Biafra wrote rap songs, they’d prolly sound like this.

47. Einsturzende Neubaten- “Ich Gehe Jetzt” (Perpetuum Mobile, 2004)


These German mavens of high-art industrial music led by eccentric frontman and former Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld have certainly come a long way from their noise terrorist period of the ‘80s. This is downright soothing and melodic, with Blixa’s voice never rising above a rich, regal baritone. But those organ-like sounds providing “Ich Gehe Jetzt’s” languid pulse are really long hydraulic tubes of compressed air, proving that this band’s methods will never be completely orthodox, and good on them.

48. The Mountain Goats- “No Children” (Tallahassee, 2002)


Yes, I know this song’s been mentioned countless times already, but I would be a goddamn fool to not include it. A more bitingly perfect and utterly blistering expression of desperation and hate has yet to be written. This is the anthem for all the bad relationships you somehow can’t quit, for all the hangovers that don’t wear off until you go back to the bottle, for the fucking unfulfilling 9-to-5 job and the fucking car that won’t start and the fucking pathetic hangers-on that just won’t go away. This is real.

49. Immortal- “Beyond The North Waves” (Sons of Northern Darkness, 2002)


Immortal are probably the most ridiculous-looking band on Earth this side of a Kiss concert, but their irony-free music is the product of stone-faced Viking rage. Fusing the best qualities of traditional heavy metal in the Iron Maiden vein with the grim blasting fury of their Norwegian black metal peers and bolstered by thick, bass-enriched production (proving that metal doesn’t have to be recorded in a fucking cave to be authentic or “kVLT”), it’s impossible to listen to all eight minutes of “Beyond The North Waves” without longing for warpaint and a battleaxe. And if the majestic guitars and thunderous double bass don’t boil your blood, Abbath’s proud declaration of “I will fight until the day I die” will. PURE FUCKING \m/

50. The Lonely Island- “I’m On a Boat” (Incredibad, 2009)


Novelty act? Sure, but parodies of commercial rap excess this good don’t come along very often, and to rescue SNL from the throes of terminal suckitude no less. Flight of The Conchords might be worth a dry chuckle or two, but The Lonely Island are flat-out fucking HILARIOUS, and unlike Weird Al the shtick has yet to get stale. It’s also just about the only context where I find T-Pain’s Roger Troutman impersonation enjoyable, and that’s no small feat.


Dancing Choose

We don't really know how to dance in America anymore. Growing up at the peak of middle school awkwardness and the plato of gangster rap, the only true dance we ever learned was the obnoxious and creepy freak dance. So placed at a dancable concert, our generation of rock, metal, experimental, and electronic fans really don't know what to do with ourselves. We have no idea how to dance.

But thats ok.

The biggest complaint I hear about any concerts is that the crowd stood still. I can't tell you how many times I've herd that phrase groaned from the mouths of friends and people next to me at shows. My advice to you? Shut the fuck up. Its true that an upbeat concert with no one moving is a terrible thing, but don't pretend your not part of that, don't think your the only person there who wants to dance. You just stand there awkwardly waiting for someone else to be brave enough to start dancing, and thus give you the ok to do the same without having to be brave yourself. So push to the front, close your eyes, fell the music, start moving, freak out. No one knows how to dance, and dancing terribly is much more fun anyway. Pretend no one is watching, the band will thank you. So will everyone else when they start picking up your grove.

The other thing I find to be more or less a capital offence at concerts occurs only when the audience does actually start moving with some intensity. You find certain people who are annoyed if not actually pissed off at this movement. People who start shouting for the crowd to "just listen to the music." Or people stuck at the front of the mosh pit being crushed against the stage, who begin yelling and pushing back against the dancers. My advice to you? Trust me, the crowd will always win. No matter how hard you push the crowd will push back harder. No matter how loud you shout the crowd will shout louder. Give up. Move to the back if you want to stand still.

These people mainly justify their behavior by claiming they're just there to hear the music. And alright thats legitimate. But its not true. A concert is an occasion with generally poor mixing, and a loud environment, in all there tends to be less audio fidelity then just sticking on a cd. On top of that, you only want to be in the front in the first place so you can see. Everyone knows that if your stuck behind someone tall you're not going to enjoy yourself nearly as much. So that suggests concerts are to a good extent visual experiences. To me though, besides for the audio aspect, what I'm there for is the physical. The motion of the air when the drummer strikes his set. How you can feel the crisp reverb on the guitar in the soles of your shoes. How the singers voice rattles your head. On top of that theres the community. A room packed specifically full of people excited about one band, people willing to spend time and money because they love this music so much. Its the closest thing to utopia I can imagine.

So, once again, deep breath, close your eyes, get inside the music, and fuck all else and dance.

you got to give it up


Surfer Blood-Astro Coast

2010; Kanine Records

It's official: I am concerned.

You must not go into Astro Coast expecting to have your mind blown. If you do this, you will be disappointed. This is somewhat par for the course. What you should expect are some interesting guitar riffs and pleasant harmonies, and occasionally a clever lyric or two.

In other words, what you need to expect while listening to this album is nothing more and nothing less than something that is precisely run of the mill.

We have reached the point of indie saturation where things like this don't exactly cut it. Remember, it didn't take even a solid year for people to get sick of Vampire Weekend, and while they were cribbing a lot from smaller bands, their debut was considered somewhat fresh and unique when it came out. Having a nice melody is one better than a trip to the grocery store in this day and age.

And when something like this comes out, something that is constructed entirely on nice melodies, with a defecit of substance underneath...you feel like you wasted your money. You look to indie music for something that'll either make you think or lift your spirit, and when it sounds like it's doing that, but it's not doing that, one is apt to be mildly frustrated.

And I specifically mean "frustrated", because listening to the album as I write this, I really want to say that you should run out and buy this album. I feel like I'm picking on Surfer Blood and truth be told, I'm sort of hating writing this review because yes, this album is making me sort of happy while I'm listening to it, and I can appreciate some of the interesting guitar tones that they get. And I don't want it to seem like Astro Coast is completely devoid of quality, because it absolutely is not. The first three tracks are delightful, the single "Swim" in particular, and "Fast Jabroni"/"Slow Jabroni" is an interesting exercise. And it must be said that "Catholic Pagans" never fails to make me laugh each time I hear it.

But the simple fact is, you've heard this album before. This pleasant, poppy, cheerily disaffected tone? It's old hat. If you've heard Los Campesinos!, if you've heard Vampire Weekend, if you've heard Young Knives or Arctic Monkeys or the Velvet Teen or Wolf Parade, you've heard bits and pieces of this album already, just done slightly better. And while it's somewhat different to hear indie pop synthesized with bratty alternative rock, you can still pick out exactly where everything in this album comes from.

To a certain extent this album is worth hearing, if only because of the level of craft put in to making it. And for the record, I'll probably be willing to buy their second album whenever it comes out. But if Surfer Blood wants to stay relevant in the musical landscape, they're going to need to expand their sound significantly with coming albums and do something that really makes them stand out from the bloated, self-mining indie pack. To quote one of their own lyrics, "Take some time to figure it out/'Cause if you don't, you're gonna do without."



Four Tet - There Is Love In You

2010; Domino; London, England

Its a weird thing to try to compare one medium to another - they are all basicly in-compatible. There is a reason the writer chose books instead of film, he felt what he had to say could only be said with words. Theres a reason the director doesn't paint, what he has to say needs movment. This of course presents a real problem to us critics: how can we hope to get across the feelings present in this music using words? If they could be presented in type then the music would be unnecessary. Its to be noted of course that the writers here at Styrofoam Boots fucking hate critics, but we do still have to try to push these words.

Nonetheless, above all Four Tet reminds me of visual design. Sharp lines, primary colors. White background, pearl finish. Sleak, fresh, crisp, bold. Gives you the sence of sheer forward motion even thought as you stare at it you know its standing still. Do you know what I mean? Unfortunately when it comes down to that print design never ends up quite like that, though we can see what they aim for, but perhaps these artists were working in the wrong medium all along. Because Four Tet hits it right on the head.

A patchwork of mostly electric and some acoustic elements, it feels like the rain would slide right off it, like if hanging in a gallery it would be the only thing anyone would look at. And at the same time it is so... modest. So space and quiet, it keeps its head down and underplays your compliments. Opener Angel Echoes features a slight four on beat and some ambient with a light crescendo of cut up vocals repeating, it takes you quite a wile before you realize they're chanting the album's title. Circling gives little more than a layered arpeggio, Plastic People hands you a looped chime with a light beat pattern. It seems that if you held these compositions up to the sun you could see right through them, with all the light shining through.

In all you find the perfect example of ambient electronic, repetitive without ever being boring, cerebral with out being overthought, makes you fall into a trance without losing your mind, easy to listen to without loosing its force, its urgency. The music is so slight that listening to it starts to feel like breathing air. That you could play the album trough and not know what happened, not realize how the time passed, felt like you just stuck the album on, and all you want to do is play it again.

And if you let it you'll sink in, you'll become this music. Lost in it's stream. Awash in the joy and angst. But perhaps the album's title says it best - this is an album for love. For calm laughing dancing angsty energetic passionate momentous serene exhausting love.

1. Angel Echoes
2. Love Cry
3. Circling
4. Pablo's Heart
5. Sing
6. This Unfolds
7. Reversing
8. Plastic People
9. She Just Likes To Fight

happy valentines day

A Valentine's Day Playlist

Are you tired of people talking about how happy they are with their significant other? So am I. Tune those clowns out and listen to this instead(click Pop-Out Player for easier use):

Standalone player


Things I Have Noticed

  • If you sit in one place for long enough, you will eventually start playing a Ramones album.
  • Black Sabbath wrote a lot of songs about individuality, but then again, most bands did. It would be difficult to find a group that really supports group consciousness.
  • The female member of The Knife seems like she should be really attractive. She is not.
  • Chuck D doesn't have much in the way of flow.
  • If you're feeling heartbroken and desperate, listening to Nick Drake won't make you feel better, but it will fill you with a sense of accomplishment that you thought to put on a Nick Drake album.
  • Pink Floyd wouldn't be remembered at all if it wasn't for Roger Waters' songwriting.
  • At first it seems surprising that nobody could figure out that Rob Halford was gay, but you've got to remember that the late '70s and most of the '80s were an incredibly faggy period of United States history. He basically just seemed like an average man.
  • Parliament/Funkadelic wouldn't be able to rise above the status of "cult act" if they founded any later than they did.
  • James Brown was actually an incredibly handsome man. It seems like an obvious statement, but it's something a lot of people seem to forget.
  • The Smiths would improve exponentially if they thought to include a decent bassline in any of their songs.
  • A smiling white man on the cover of a blues album is something that should stay in a courtroom.
  • There is no correct food to eat while listening to Bob Dylan.
  • The level of unfounded rage at Bruce Springsteen probably mostly comes from people who didn't love their grandparents.
  • There's not really a decent reason to listen to Built To Spill in this day and age.
  • There's a time and a place for black metal drumming, and it could work in more songs than you might think. Insert some blast beats into "Gimme Shelter" and marvel at the results!
  • "We Will Fall" by The Stooges is probably the worst song ever recorded.
  • Pay attention while you're listening to a Slayer album. You'll notice that nothing really impressive is happening.
  • It seems unlikely that math rock will ever get it's day in the sun.
  • Jeff Magnum has one of the worst singing voices in rock history and that's what makes most of his songs work.
  • Everyone seems to like the Melvins, but nobody seems to have anything by them.
  • Many Japanophiles, if not most, have never heard of Boris.
  • All of the Beatles' later work is constructed on the pop foundations that they laid down early in their career, so if you're one of those people who hates the "pop shit" that the Beatles did early on, you are, at best, a slut.
  • There are few metal songs about relationships, but there's a surprising amount of relationship songs about metal.
  • Hospice by The Antlers doesn't get completely incredible until the last third of the album, and it makes the previous two thirds seem sort of shitty by comparison.
  • The Specials are almost too jazzed about their own music to come off as being angry about much of anything.
  • It's pretty hard to make friends when you're the kind of person who spends Superbowl Sunday making a list of pithy music observations.


Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

2010; Arts & Crafts; Cardiff, Wales

What the fuck does a "more mature" album mean? Do you mean to say the band is aging? Outgrowing there youthful sentiments? Are they calming down? Getting ready to be played on AOR radio? Or are they going the opposite direction? Getting old and bitter a-la Bob Dylan or Lou Reed? Does there music slow down or speed up? Does this mean less sex jokes? Talk of kids? Is it a good thing, or one to be avoided at all costs?

Fuck you.

This is Los Campesinos!'s least mature album.

Hold On Now, Youngers was, in a word, happy. We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed followed six months after and was not. Infact it was unapologetically universe hating depressed, "shout at the world because the world doesn't love you", reminiscent of, well, you and me circa seventh and eighth grade. It was earnest and brave. It is true that we are over saturated with obnoxious pre-teen self indulgent ennui these days - see Twilight and My Chemical Romance - but in backlash every serious person walks around afraid to feel angst at all lest they be pigeon-holed in with the emo crowd. We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed was refreshing and powerful and catchy and life changing in all the right embarrassing ways. I am embarrassed to call an album life changing in the first place, the words reserved for girls talking about Bell & Sebastian or the Desemberists and the like, but there it is.

But really, why is angst and ennui considered so pubescent? Because you can't sustain it. I held out for three or four years I guess, but you cannot continue to live like that. Adrian recently said to me "the only way to live by Nihilism is to commit suicide." And no one wants to die. So what to do? You could grow up I suppose, be like the Pixies in their reunion (as documented in the flick loudQuietloud). Forget your rage. Be your idles. Live the world get a job toughen up get over it. Or you could come with me and become obsessed with girls (or boys if you prefer to have sex with those). It gives you a nice out, don't you see. It allows you to stay angry and give up hope. It allows you to fall into worries and darkness and hedonism, wile also making you forget about the rest of the world, and not have to kill yourself. When the concept of love and sex is not life-affirming, it helps you forget you exist.

Los Campesinos is with me and don't let the album title fool you. This is all about girls. And though still miserable its not in the Miserabilia choosing hopelessness kind of way. "Lets talk about you for a minute, with the vomit at your gullet, from a half bottle of vodka that we'd stolen from the optic" kicks off album opener In Medias Res (meaning "into the middle of affairs") and continues from there, bitter, fucked up, drunk, angry, horny.

To appropriate this self-destruction the band have added a few more aggressive layers to their trademarked hyper layered sound. At some points it begins to approach unrelenting noise rock in the vain of The Velvet Teen or Xiu Xiu (who makes an appearance on this album). Electronics, two overhauled guitars, violin, keyboard, drums, bass, shouts, and sometimes horns, there is always ten things going on at once always motion always passion in Tom's jaw dropingly complex arrangements (the glockenspiel still has one or two parts. bitches.). Gareth still mixes his combination of pop and pretension and passion, throwing in his trademarked music nerd and soccer worshiping lines now and then with stunning results. "I think we need more post coital and less post-rock, feels like the build up takes for ever but you never get me off" he murmurs on Straight In At 101. And they keep going, a deal longer than their previous efforts.

Not to say the album is perfect, its a bit to much at times, a bit exhausting to listen to in one sitting. And the harshness of the sound leaves the songs themselves a bit less memorable. Still, Los Campesinos! are a band always teetering on the edge, they are the most beautiful most doomed band alive, and we are all predicting from day one their demise. They cannot go on forever like this, soon they will have to explode. Thank god today is not the day.

01. In Medias Res
02. There Are Listed Buildings
03. Romance Is Boring
04. We've Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2)
05. Plan A
06. 200-102
07. Straight in at 101
08. Who Fell Asleep In
09. I Warned You: Do Not Make an Enemy of Me
10. Heart Swells/100-1
11. I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know
12. A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; or, Letters From Me to Charlotte
13. The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future
14. This Is a Flag. There Is No Wind.
15. Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State

thought. you. should. know.