Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hank III - Live in Brooklyn

Hank III

There are many artists clamoring for the now-vacant title of Hardest Working Man in Show Business, but my vote goes unquestionably to Hank Williams III. The reason is simple: I've never seen another performer play three completely different (yet equally raucous) sets without taking a break in between. So when his tour pulled in to Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg on the eve of my birthday, I knew I had to be there.

Williams has always been a creative soul with an identity crisis, balancing his love of heavy metal and punk rock with his country pedigree. His approach to expressing these genres is a methodic one: tackle each style, one at a time. Starting off with a tradition country set and a band that included fiddle, banjo, stand-up bass and steel guitar players, Williams took the audience on a musical tour of the American South, churning out both original and classic yarns based on tales from West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee. The most rancor was reserved for the latter, particularly Nashville's Grand Ol' Opry for refusing to grant his grandfather, the country legend Hank Williams, a posthumous reinstatement. [For more info or to sign the online petition, click here.]

Hank III/Hellbilly set

From there, he ramped things up by changing hats (literally) and going into the Hellbilly part of the night with Assjack, bringing out singer Gary Lindsay to help belt out rockers like "Six-Pack of Beer," "Country Heroes" and "Life of Sin." Of note: after many years of circulating official bootlegs, Assjack will finally be releasing their official debut on Curb Records, due out on August 4.

Hank III's Metal/Punk set

It really wouldn't be a Hank III show without a final punk rock set, though at this point most of the crowd had cleared out. Paying particular homage to GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (GG's brother Merle and drummer Dino took the stage for a song), the band went through several hellacious, industrial-strength tracks and teased the audience with riffs on Slayer's "Reigning Blood" and Ministry's "Stigmata." After much sound and fury—not to mention equal parts spilled beer and blood—the show came to a frenzied, sweaty end.

Shades of GG Allin

For more photos, check out the gallery here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Let's Deport Speidi

As much as I loathe to devote any of my time, bandwidth or breathe on the gruesome twosome known as "Speidi," I found this post on E! Online interesting. Apparently, they've launched a poll to see if their viewers are indeed sick of these two walking organ donors.

Seriously, why do you need a poll? There's this thing I learned about in journalism school called "news value" and that the established media are "gatekeepers." So really? Do you have to ask? Just stop reporting on them.

The debate I'm really interested in is to see if maybe President Obama can write a bill to have them deported. I think they'd do really well in Germany.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shut Up And Listen To... Monster Magnet

During my college days, I spent many hours listening to New Jersey's Monster Magnet in altered states. There was just something about all their psychedelic influences, the power rock chords and singer Dave Wyndorf's constant references to Marvel Comics characters (in fact, he once told me during an interview that he strived to write lyrics the way Jack Kirby drew comics—all angular and greater than life) that ingratiated Monster Magnet to me, particularly their watershed 1995 album, Dopes To Infinity. To this day, it still feels like home.

Yet like so many other bands, Monster Magnet subsequently ran out of steam and released a series of sub-par records that sullied their otherwise stellar catalog.

Last month, I went to see Monster Magnet—now reunited with guitarist/Atomic Bitchwax founder Ed Mundell—on a whim, hoping they'd ignore their last few albums. Not only did they exceed my expectations, but they also played all their standards, starting with the opening track from Dopes, plus underground classics like "Zodiac Lung," "Tractor," "Spine of God," "Melt," and my favorite song by them, "Blow 'Em Off." The result? I fell into their vortex all over again and listened to them for the next three days.

So today, in concord with Music Monday on Twitter, I'm telling all you suckers, LISTEN TO MONSTER MAGNET.